Customer relationships a saviour post-Covid
Customer relationships will need some work after becoming frayed by pandemic restrictions and social distancing, says digital marketing agency director Bejoy Jose. Now, as New Zealanders finally start to look to life in a post-pandemic economy – with the disruptions and challenges that isolation and rising inflation may bring – Kiwi SMEs will have a […]
Customer relationships will need some work after becoming frayed by pandemic restrictions and social distancing, says digital marketing agency director Bejoy Jose.
Now, as New Zealanders finally start to look to life in a post-pandemic economy – with the disruptions and challenges that isolation and rising inflation may bring – Kiwi SMEs will have a better chance of getting through if they prioritise customer relationships and connectedness.
That’s the view of Bejoy Jose (pictured above), the director of Mello Technologies – a digital marketing agency and authorised Zoho Customer Relationship Management partner based in Auckland. He says its often the aftermath of global events like, for example, the global financial crisis (GFC) that causes the most casualties because SMEs have been weakened and, like a marathon runner collapsing near the finish, they succumb to the shock waves that follow.
“If you consider the increase in insolvencies in Auckland following the GFC, you see a pattern,” Jose says. He is urging SMEs not to relax because it’s all over but to instead proactively prepare for what could be some tough months ahead.
“Businesses have had no choice but to enforce public health and safety restrictions and mandates, resorting to contactless pick-up – raising issues with delivery delays – and limiting their sales and networking activities. Emotions were frayed, and there’s no doubt the realities of pandemic life will have eroded and strained customer relationships.
“You will need those customers in 2022, and I would urge SMEs to take action now to start rebuilding customer relationships and acquire new customers.”
Jose says SMEs need to act now to protect market share and keep customers happy.
Jose says the focus has been on keeping people safe and surviving the pandemic, but it’s time now to change gear and focus on becoming more customer-centric.
“Increase your customer communications. Like a person waiting tables in a restaurant, start following up with customers to see if they are happy with their purchase. Call, email, create a generic post-sale survey – whatever it takes to maintain contact.”
2. Show that you care
The need to ask customers for their Covid passes, requiring them to maintain social distancing and wear a mask – while not yet a thing of the past – are necessary to protect public health, but they’re about keeping customers at a distance, and this is the opposite of relationship building.
“Whether your business is in person or online, it is important to demonstrate that you care. Enforce the necessary pandemic protocols by all means, but do it with empathy and compassion. You can also aim to support causes that are important to your customers. For example, doing things that help the environment or the underprivileged is also a way to demonstrate your care.
“Let your customers know what you’re doing. It’s an excuse to communicate.”
3. Start a customer loyalty programme
Jose says that a good customer loyalty programme will help customers feel good about themselves, and that is important when tempers are frayed and people feel scared or uncertain.
“Showing your customers that they are essential and that you value them and their business engenders positive emotions, and that’s something we all could do with a bit more of in these times. They support your livelihood, and a customer loyalty programme helps you say thank you and keeps you in business.
“Be open, be honest and be vulnerable. Most Kiwi SMEs are not making millions and getting fat off the land – we’re just regular New Zealanders trying to make a living and support our families. Introduce that authenticity into your customer relationships, and they will appreciate you more.”
Jose says strong customer relationships will help a business better understand and match the needs of their customers, which will help the company get through some of the tough times that may lay ahead.