“Don’t do anything without considering the impact it has on the customer,” said Brendan Witcher, VP and principal analyst at Forrester during the latest SFA Ask the Experts webinar. Witcher shared the following tips for companies as they enter the second half of 2020.
- Assess consumer concerns and how to alleviate them to make them feel better about your brand, both in the long term and the short term. No matter what kind of business you run, be sure to overcommunicate how you’re handling safety amid the pandemic. “Now is the time to brag about everything you’re doing to make customers and employees safe,” said Witcher. This is especially important for smaller retailers. Most customers are seeing how Walmart or other big box retailers are handling operations, but they need to know that mom-and-pop retailers are just as safe.
- Focus on three areas: the now, the new, and the next, said Witcher. In the now, make sure you’re continuing to provide customers with the same level of customer service and e-commerce opportunities that have been successful during the pandemic. For the new, think about how you can expand those areas; whether through a buy online, pick up in store method, or some other kind of contactless delivery/payment system. And for the next, really think about what Q3 and Q4 will hold for your business. The holiday season is coming up and it’s critical to solve any issues you’re encountering now before the busy season hits.
- Stay away from messaging about whether or not it’s time for the country to reopen. “The reality is that no matter what you say, 50 percent of the country won’t agree with you,” said Witcher. Instead, focus on messaging that explains the value of your products and why they will help consumers in this confusing time.
- Don’t forget about your internal operations and how you’re keeping employees safe. Customers will remember the companies that took the time to care for their employees and will want to do business with them in the future, noted Witcher.
- Prioritize financial and operational recovery. Make sure your customers not only know about the benefits of your products, but also how they can get them. Position sales as a way to connect with customers who may be going through tough financial times. “Customers need to know that companies aren’t tone deaf about their financial or safety concerns,” said Witcher.