Customers need to know you care, so take care of them.
Two simple facts when it comes to customers that you need to know when trying to figure out how to take care of them in times of crisis [+ always].
- The customer is yours to lose (so take care of them)
- Customers have lots of choices (you’re not their one + only, so see #1)
A big challenge for businesses today is taking care of the customers they have.
Hands up if this has happened to you recently…
If you have an email address + make purchases online, you’ve probably encountered the following scenario at least once in the last few months:
You receive an email from a company that you haven’t heard from in years.
In fact, you don’t even know who they are anymore. You can’t recognise the company name, can’t recall when or what you bought from them, or even what they sell.
Alas, they remember you.
Now they’ve sent you a long-winded email, detailing how hard they’ve been hit by the global pandemic, all the things they’re doing to offset the impacts + how it would be really great if you could just spend some money to help them stay afloat in these troubled times. Gee, thanks buddy, pal, friend, valued customer of ours…
It’s all fashioned around this diatribe of ‘us, us, us’ + there’s never any mention of what you, the customer, gets out of it all…
Is the business doing a good job of taking care of the customers they have? Not so much.
There are a whole range of common mistakes businesses make in general, but they become more pronounced in tough times like these, aside from forgetting that taking care of the customers they have is the most important strategy of all.
Below are some of the big ones. Consider this a list of ‘what not to do’:
- Blanket emails to ‘all’ – Customers often see straight through this ruse. They realise they’re just seen as a number, + click the ‘unsubscribe’ button faster than you can blink. Generic messages? Long-winded sob stories? No thanks. Unsubscribe.
- Making it about you, not about them – When you focus on yourself, the customer disengages. Fast. Telling them what you’ve been up to, how bad this crisis has affected you, or doing the hard sell on how they need to support you right now, is a sure fire way to get yourself some unsubscribes.
- Not communicating at all – Dropping off the face of the Earth is almost as bad for business as the first two. Particularly in times of crisis, your customers need to feel like you are there for them on their journey, not the other way around. In the words of Maya Angelou:
“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
- Discounting – It can be tempting to go straight for the price cut in an attempt to engage customers, but it’s usually a bad call. Customers are, now more than ever, having price messages thrust in their faces, so chances are your message won’t even register for them. Or worse, you’ll end up with customers you don’t want – the ones that will always base decisions on price, + on price alone.
It’s time for businesses to form an action plan for taking care of the customers they have, while avoiding those icky marketing techniques we mentioned.
Are you ready? Here’s what you can do to take care of your customers:
1. Review your customer list
Remember, sending a generic email to every subscriber on your list is bad practice. Instead, segment your list into smaller sections.
There are a few ways you can segment your list to help you prioritise where to focus your attention, + who will be most likely to respond to your efforts – that’s what we want, after all.
Review your list of the customers you have today + ask yourself these questions:
- When was the last time you contacted them?
- When did they last purchase from or spend money with you?
- What did they purchase?
- How would you rate them in terms of value?
- Which ones are high value (ie. spend the most)
- Which ones are low value (ie. spend the least or nothing at all)
Work out which customers you’re going to reach out to first, or better still, cluster them into groups + create a message for each.
For example, all customers who haven’t purchased from you in over a year might receive a ‘reignite message’ with a specific value-add offer or ‘come back’ offer. This will be different to the message you send to customers who have purchased in the last year (+ are therefore more engaged, more likely to respond + probably need something different from you).
Alternatively, there may be customers who’ve only purchased the base-level of your product or service + are ripe to ‘upgrade’ or ‘add on’ to their existing past purchases – they would receive a different message again.
Think about the customer group and tailor your message or offer to their specific needs. When the customer sees that your message is relevant, they’re more likely to engage, respond, or purchase and less likely to unsubscribe.
2. Work out how you’re going to reach out to your customers
There are many ways to do this + it will all depend on the type of business you have, the products you sell + of course, your business brand + your personality.
If you’re not sure, ask yourself this – ‘If I was my customer, how would I expect to be contacted by this business?’ or even better, ‘If I was my customer, how would I like to be contacted?’
Let’s take an example:
If I’m a loyal customer of a particular business, having visited their venue weekly over the past year, I’d expect a personalised message that acknowledges me + speaks directly to me rather than an obvious ‘email all’ generic message that has nothing to do with me. In fact, I might even expect a phone call. Or a video call. Or a gift.
Think about it from the customer perspective + figure out what’s going to cut through + mean the most to them.
Here’s some ideas for how businesses can take care of the customers they have:
- Personalised email (not a generic ‘email all’) – this is your baseline
- Phone call
- Video message via email – group or personalised
- Text message
- Social media posts
- Personalised letter
- Personalised handwritten letter!
Whichever way you choose to contact your customers, always acknowledge them personally.
3. Work out what you’re going to say to them
When sending a message to your customers, be clear as to what your purpose or desired outcome is beforehand.
Don’t waste their time. Or yours.
Remember the scenario we talked about earlier? Don’t make it about you.
- Are you contacting them to say thank you?
- Sending them a special offer to encourage another visit or purchase?
- An update on the business as it relates to them?
- Just to say hi?
The key is to be clear on your purpose
When you’ve decided what your message purpose is, start thinking about how you can bring that purpose to life.
Here are some things to think about:
- Empathise with them – tell them you understand how hard it may have been or how the crisis has impacted them, show them you know what it’s like to be in their shoes
- Ask them what’s happening in their world, tell them you want to understand how you can better serve them. Ask if they’ll answer a few short questions to improve your offers, but always make it easy for them. No extra hoops to jump through. Don’t take up their time otherwise it becomes about you again, not about them (Hint: these insights are great to help you know what to focus on for your product development, promotions, customer offers, content for social media + emails etc)
- You could provide a special offer to them that addresses their issue or alleviates their pain, again showing empathy + understanding (Hint: don’t pose it as discounting, but rather value-adding. This small distinction can make a world of difference!)
- Share an interesting fact or research finding from your/their industry that might impact or interest them, something they may not have known (Hint: researching what’s going on in their industry is a great way to add value)
Businesses need to focus on taking care of the customers they have.
Customers need to know you care. They need to feel seen, heard + understood.
In times of crisis and beyond, customers need to know that they’re important to you, that it matters to you whether they’re there or not, + that they matter.
Don’t forget that + they won’t forget you.
This concept goes hand-in-hand with our discussion last month about how to lose a customer for good.
Sueanne is passionate about connecting businesses with the ultimate reason they exist: their customers. Her impressive reach has transformed market-leading brands such as lastminute.com, Terry White Chemmart, PPQ, AVIS, Travelocity, Hays Recruitment, Visit Sunshine Coast + Tourism Queensland.