How to connect with customers during COVID

The COVID crisis is constantly changing the way we do business. And our customers are also changing the way they think, what they buy and the way they are choosing to interact with the world.
Now more than ever we need to understand our customers and their changing pain-points to be able to meet their needs. Constantly adapting our marketing, products and services to stay relevant in a rapidly changing economy.
This article aims to provide some insights to the change in our customers thinking, and some practical tips for connecting with your customers in our new normal for business.

How customers thinking is changing

At the start of the COVID crisis we saw shortages of loo paper and panic buying of pasta as people grappled with a fear of the unknown. Nine Media Weekly Moodtracker has been monitoring trends in Australia and as the weeks roll on, our anxiety, fear and negative emotions are now trending downwards, while positive emotions trend upwards as we get used to our new normal way of life.

 

NINE Media Audience Insights
Mood Tracker – 23 April 2020

 

For the first time since the crisis stared, the positive emotion of Hope was the most dominant in the mood tracker as we start to imagine the world post-COVID.

 

Shopping online for a homebased lifestyle

With a change in emotions will come a change in spending patterns, and as we get used to spending more time at home, the Nine Audience Insights research also showed we are buying online more than ever before. And while our overall spending has decreased the research showed:  

  • 92% of us are shopping online, from groceries to take-away, entertainment and retail as we seek to improve our home-based lifestyle.
  • 40% of us are interested in DIY projects to improve the house or garden including interior decorating, furniture and appliances. 
  •   90% expressed an interest in supporting their local stores and small business, recognising the adverse impact on SME’s during this period. 

Our media use has exploded

As we seek home based entertainment and connection, we are also spending more time online than ever before.   

Nieslen Media Research Jan to Mar 2020 showed that across all age groups media use from Jan to March our digital media consumption has grown 80-100% as we google, stream Netflix and Youtube our way through the day and night. This increased media consumption gives businesses an increased opportunity to get in front of our customers and gain their attention.   

Nielsen Digital Media Use Research
Jan – Mar 2020

So how should we be communicating with our customers during COVID?

In case you were thinking that the last thing that customers want at this time is being sold to, then think again. A research study by DDB Global of over 4000 participants showed that people overwhelmingly want to hear from brands, even more so than pre-COVID.

The research showed people felt:

  • A definite need to feel that they are not alone, and brands
    gave them a sense of ‘the world is not completely ending’
  • A need of ‘help me today and be useful’/ action and
    helpfulness.
  • Keeping me safe was the #1 priority.
  • People want to know how you are operating during the crisis
    (home deliver, store open etc.).
  • Hearing about deals and offers is welcome – it is OK to sell stuff.
  • People are looking for a signal that life has not ended despite
    COVID-19.
  • Only 19% of respondents expected brands to continue as normal.
  • 52% wanted to know how brands were looking after their employee’s –
    a strong sense of wanting brands to put people first

8 tips to connect with your customers during COVID

Building trust, loyalty and bringing a human element to your communication with customers will help them reduce any barriers they may have with buying from you during the COVID crisis.   

Here’s 8 tips to do exactly that during the COVID crisis.

Website

1.Provide an update on your home page with any new precautious you are taking for customers and staff to keep them safe, any changes to trading times and operations, promote any special offers and ways you are helping customers during COVID.  

2.Audit your website content to ensure your messaging and services are updated and COVID friendly. You don’t want an image on your website of your staff standing right next to a customer or people shaking hands during social distancing measures.     

3.Increase your customer touchpoints by offering more ways to connect with your business.
You could use live webchat plugins like Zendesk or Livechat , video calls/consultations using Facetime, Zoom or Skype and private messenger apps like Wattsapp, rather than meetings and home visits.

4.Allow customers to buy-online by adding an ecommerce plugin to your website, particularly if your business offering is a physical product, and offer a delivery services that keeps them feeling safe. Woocommerce and Shopify are two easy ways to add ecommerce to your offering.  

Social Media

5. Stay active on social media. Whether Facebook, Instagram, Linked-In or Twitter provide regular updates on any changes in your business operations, any special offers and create content that makes people smile. Show customers how you are helping your staff and the community to show them we’re all in this together.  And get creative.  People are craving entertainment during this time and tired of hearing the COVID doom and gloom. You could livestream or video a demonstration, class, seminar or product overview for your customers.      

6.Consider using video or livestream to provide an update on your business to personalise any messages you have for customers.  You could do a short video providing your customers with the confidence that you’re still open and appreciate their support.   

 Email

7.Emailing your customers using an email marketing tool like Mailchimp or CampaignMonitor is still a highly effective way to directly reach your customers.  Send a monthly update telling them about how your business is going, promote new services and offers, how they can help your business and thank them for their support. 

Phone

8.Don’t discount a good old fashion phone call to your customers to make them feel the love. Although we’ve quickly evolved to facetime and video conferencing, it’s a personal one-on-one approach that we all know and trust.  Ask how they are going personally and professionally and see if there’s anything your business can do to help.  They will appreciate the effort in reaching out to them. 

 

For more information and overview of the digital tools you could use to improve the way you connect with your customers, check out the resources and downloadable guide on Council’s website here.