4 Things Brands Can Do Now in the Time of COVID-19
Coronavirus is one of the biggest challenges our global economy has faced, and its full impact is yet to be realized. In these unprecedented times, many brands have asked us what they can be doing in the short term to continue relationship building with (and sometimes more importantly, retaining) their customers. Here are some quick wins in using what you easily have in your arsenal to navigate the current challenging environment.
#2 – Examine How Flexible Your Loyalty Program Can Be
While certain industries are doing well due to high, “panic-buying” demand, other industries are taking a beating as customers re-examine how they spend their money and are even limited to what they can do, and where they can go. With non-essential travel bans in place, airlines, hotels and car rental agencies are especially impacted. This is the time for brands to show love and leniency to their loyal customers. We recommend analyzing your data thoroughly before making any long-term changes to your program. Evaluate your current customer behaviors and determine how they’re shifting, and most importantly, how will behaviors stabilize long term.
In the near future, across industries, brands should evaluate how their loyalty program can anchor long-term loyalty vs. short-term purchasing, and determine how to make small modifications to ensure customer motivation and engagement:
Point expiration extensions – Can you give your customers a reasonable time period to still be motivated by growing their point banks, while also balancing your overall business objectives?
Tiering extensions – We’ve seen a number of customers inquire about how to hold on to their status while shopping and travel limits are in place. Brands should be flexible with tiering to show their long-term appreciation to their most valuable customers.
Ongoing purchase incentives – Most brands are going to see a significant drop in basket size and frequency. By continuing to reward purchases, customers will keep coming back as the brand is incorporated into this current “new” lifestyle.
#3 – Keep Your Members Engaged
As COVID-19 really took hold globally, initial communications centered around the brand’s seemingly templated response to how they were addressing the crisis, often followed by sales – the messaging of which were likely lost among the seemingly endless sales campaigns. Now that we’re coming out of that initial phase, it’s time to strengthen your strategic approach and focus on you customer relationships.
Future thinking – Times will be good again, so get people thinking of the future. Use digital channels like Instagram or Pinterest to offer contests or ways for customers to envision their future travel or lifestyle plan for what they will do when physical distancing becomes a thing of the past: What places will they fly to? What outfits will they wear to events? Will we all be trying to get our haircuts/brow waxes/manicures the day the salons open back up?
Be hopeful and conscientious in your messaging – Looking back at #1 in this article, show your customers what you’re doing for them and for people most affected by this crisis. Your goodwill during this time will be remembered and valued when things are better.
Anticipate the needs of your customer and respond in real-time. As current consumers experience loneliness, stress and boredom, it will become more critical for brands to focus on meeting the needs of the individual. Use the actions of today (browsing, open rates, downloads, purchases, etc.) to give real-time responses and recommendations. To prepare for the future, invest in your customer journeys to create a multifaceted approach.
While focusing on the individual, make sure that you also enable the world of community. Consumers crave connection, and the brands that will stand out post-COVID-19 will be those that find ways to connect the individual needs to the masses of society. We anticipate that omni-channel personalization will be more important than ever; now is the time to start investing.
Use this time to really know and understand key customer segments and what the optimal journeys would be to help make their lives easier and keep them coming back to your brand. We obviously don’t know the definitive end to the current crisis, but we do know that things will be different on the other side. We’re hopeful that when customers return to stores, dine at a restaurant again with friends, and go on their next trip that brands, just like our communities, will see each other as people and not just transactions. It’s time to make business personal… for real.