26 Aug Retaining Customers During COVID-19
Retaining customers during COVID-19 is no easy feat. While there’s nothing to be done about customers having less disposable income or needing to save more money due to financial uncertainty, there are things within your control.
Here are a few ideas about how you can keep customers around during (and after) COVID-19.
1. Ensure a good experience the first time around.
This is the most straightforward of the COVID to-do’s. However, it’s also the most important and the most under your control to ensure a good customer experience.
When customers don’t have a good experience with your company they’re not likely to come back, which effects your customer retention rate. When you make sure customers have a good experience, customer loyalty and retention increases, and this comes down to your processes. A standardized customer experience from onboarding through offboarding makes your life simpler, treats customers equally, and allows you to clearly see when things go wrong.
Your process doesn’t have to be a flowchart straight out of a Business 101 textbook. Try making a numbered list of everything that happens when customers interact with your business. From there, you’ll be able to adjust your processes over time to ensure good experiences and retain customers.
Here’s an example process:
- Customer learns about my e-commerce store from a friend and visits the site
- Customer clicks around my website, adds a few things to the cart, then exits without purchasing
- Customer sees an ad on Instagram with a discount code, clicks through to my website, and makes a purchase with the code
- Customer receives email with order confirmation
- Customer receives product
- Customer leaves negative review
Let’s say something happened in Step #4, where the customer receives an order confirmation. Maybe you don’t explain your processing time clearly or include an order tracking number. The customer gets frustrated and leaves a negative review (even if they loved the product itself!). If something like this happens, you can go back to Step #4 and adjust your process so that you don’t make the same mistake twice.
2. Evaluate product-market fit.
Product-market fit means looking at how whatever you sells fits with your ideal customer’s wants, needs, or concerns. Even if you had a perfect product-market fit pre-COVID-19, it’s worth double checking whether your ideal customer still needs your product or service. If not, it’s time to pivot.
For example, pre-COVID you had a service that connected parents (your ideal customers) with each other to coordinate carpooling to school. With many schools returning virtually this fall, parents no longer need to carpool, which makes your service a bad product-market fit. During COVID-19, parents now need help with homeschooling or tutoring resources. You can pivot your service to connect parents with tutors, which is a good product-market fit.
When you’re evaluating product-market fit, ask yourself these questions:
- Are recurring customers dropping off?
- Who keeps coming back? Are there any patterns with those customers or clients? (Ex. Industry, Geography, Demographics)
- Could there be another market out there that would be more receptive to your offering right now?
- What does your ideal customer need, and how can you pivot your business to meet those needs?
When you have a a good product-market fit, retaining customers is easy because people love your product or service and come back for more.
3. Invest in TOMA.
TOMA stands for “Top Of Mind Awareness” and refers to customers thinking about your business first when it comes to your industry. For example, when you think about home improvement stores, you probably think about Lowe’s or Home Depot first. That’s TOMA (and big advertising budgets) at work. Small and local businesses can increase customer retention through TOMA strategies too, and it doesn’t have to mean giant advertising budgets.
Top of mind awareness means retaining customers because when customers think of your brand first, they’re likely to come to you when they need what you offer. Content marketing and TOMA are heavily intertwined, but for the purposes of customer retention, think about where your customers spend most of their time online and market your business there. For example, do your customers spend their days answering emails or on Pinterest? Do your customers prefer Facebook or Instagram?
Ask yourself the following questions and think about which online channels you should be using to reach your ideal customers:
- What channels are you currently using? What’s working?
- What channels are you NOT using?
Not sure how you did or where to start with customer retention?
Send a survey to existing customers.
There are so many tools that automate sending post-purchase emails with a link to take a survey, often from within your content management system. Free email marketing software like MailChimp works great, too, and we have an email marketing e-course to help you get started.
A few survey tips:
- Keep it brief
- Use multiple choice or Yes/No questions
- Only add 1 or 2 text response sections (and make them optional!)