In part one of this series, we discussed preparing for a possible recession by delivering unique value, working with other businesses, and planning cash flow fluctuations. These strategies work for all types of companies and can be used immediately to prepare you for any economic situation. In this second part, we will discuss the most critical aspect of your business – your customers.
It may seem scary, but a recession affects you and your company. Your customers feel the effects of a recession just as much as your company. Customer engagement is crucial to keep your business profitable until the economy improves. Customer engagement is about more than just selling and promoting. Creating a reliable, steady community around your business is a genuine, thoughtful effort. How meaningful customer engagement will help you get through difficult times.
What is customer engagement strategy (CDS)?
Experts typically approach customer engagement in two ways: service and support. Engaging customers holistically requires a strategy considering a customer’s relationship’s positive and negative aspects. Customer support involves addressing complaints or concerns, but it also requires looking around your business to see the community that sustains it. What value can you offer to those populations?
Customer feedback is essential to service, not only when there’s an incident. You can use feedback to create marketing campaigns, run promotions and improve your offerings. This will help you solve a customer’s problem or offer an opportunity they may have yet to consider. What can you do to show your customers that you have their back?
How to engage customers
Supporting your customers starts by getting to know them more personally. Clover’s customer management software, including Rewards, Promos, and Feedback, allows you to focus on creating an exceptional experience for every customer. Create customer profiles and track your best clients. Reward them with tailored discounts or promotions. Personalized rewards can impact customer loyalty, which is crucial to keeping your business afloat during a recession. Take a look at these data points.
- 56% of customers are loyal brands with a strong connection, and 89% of them are reliable brands that they believe share their values.
- 69% of customers shop with a retailer because of their rewards program.
Customer engagement is more than just sales and rewards. Learn what makes people come to your store by conducting surveys or customer focus groups. What is your unique selling point that makes people come back to you repeatedly? How can you help them? Ask your customers about their priorities and what you can do to serve them better.
What can be done to improve the customer service experience?
The next step to building customer engagement is feedback. Online reviews and surveys of your customers can give you new insights on how to improve your business. You can use Clover feedback to get information from customers without them posting it publicly on sites such as Yelp and Google.
Look for themes and trends in your reviews. Customers may need more time to start with slow service or long wait times. Are customers confused and annoyed by the difficulty of finding your return policy? You can quickly improve your benefits, such as staff training, more transparent policies, or better scheduling.
You should also have a plan to respond promptly and sincerely to any feedback from customers. You or someone else on your team could be tasked with winning back one disgruntled client every week. If you address the issues of your loudest critics, they can often become your biggest advocates. Try to find someone who has a valid complaint and is reasonable. Handle their case with concern and care. When managed correctly, bad reviews can be turned into assets rather than liabilities.
What can a company do to help its community?
It’s time for a bigger picture. To fully engage your customers, you must look beyond your storefront and see what else you can do in your community.
Consider the communities around you. Teams, schools, food banks and churches, mosques and churches, charities and museums all need extra support during times of economic downturn. Is the same Girl Scout troop or little-league team frequenting your pizza parlor on Tuesday nights? Does your pizza parlor host a poetry slam or other informal group? How about a law firm in your area that provides a free lunch for all the staff every Friday? You can cultivate natural communities by keeping an eye out for them. Offer special discounts for groups or theme menus to support the emerging community.
There are many ways you can act philanthropically in your business. The Clover App Market has tools that allow customers to easily donate to the local causes they care about when shopping at your store. Here are some apps to help you give back.
- Round up for Schools: Let your customers round their purchases to the nearest dollar. The donation will fund a classroom request made by a local teacher through DonorsChoose.
- FundraiserDonationCounter: Take part in fundraising and charitable missions by expressing your fundraising goals. Indicate what percentage of the sales will go to charity.
- 360Donations This donation kiosk runs on Clover devices and is designed to be semi-unattended so that customers can walk up and make their donations. Set it up at your business or a trade show to encourage people to donate outside regular business hours.
Look for partnerships. Partner with other local organizations, such as businesses that complement yours. Why not offer students a discount or an extra topping during finals? You can also partner with a local baker to provide cookies as dessert or coffee to help you prepare for late-night studying.
When a problem is severe, be a good neighbor. Consider what you can offer to help. Consider offering a discount to the newly unemployed if a large local employer decides to lay people off. Donate what you can to assist in the event of a disaster. Price gouging during or after natural disasters is not a good idea. For example, a store selling an electric generator with a 5x markup immediately following an earthquake or a hurricane would be wrong. You will lose any goodwill you have built over the years if you take advantage of people affected by events beyond their control.