COVID has fundamentally transformed the customer/retailer relationship.
The ‘in-person’ shopping experience has been stripped of all of its personable elements, reduced to a stilted, ‘essentials-only’ version of itself. While this is important and right for public health, it presents a new way of looking at shopping and brings into question what we enjoy and value about it. If the world was slowly ramping up to one where online retail was the norm, COVID has been the push it needed to reach the next level.
Online shopping is where the modern customer/retailer relationship is being developed in the time of COVID. However, online platforms do not mean customers aren’t rightly concerned about their well being.
So, how do online retailers assure new and old shoppers and put them at ease?
Show knowledge of the situation
You may have gotten tired of receiving emails about “uncertain times” and what your favorite sock retailer plans to do about them after a couple of days, but that doesn’t mean demonstrating this kind of understanding of current circumstances isn’t important.
The early weeks of the COVID pandemic were dominated by online brands attempting to alert their customer base of how they were planning to weather the storm or continue to provide services throughout the crisis. While this type of email has become a somewhat ridiculed format, a significant number of customers were put at ease by the idea that the brands they regularly shop with and eulogize were taking COVID seriously.
For many customers, if they are to continue to shop with an online store throughout the COVID pandemic they need reassurance straight from them that not only are the orders safe to receive, but staff are being treated fairly and working in safe conditions.
Don’t think that constant updates on this type of information become tired the longer the pandemic goes on either — not every customer will have seen the initial email and any will want reassurance nothing has changed.
Your social media, website, and all other platforms of communication should include disclaimers concerning the current situation. While not brand-building, promotional or exciting, this is essential for reassuring your customers you’re taking proper precautions, which will often be their first concern after stumbling upon your store.
Don’t let standards slip
Customer satisfaction looks a bit different under COVID. Customers don’t just want a good deal, they want something that makes them feel safe and comfortable. Just because we’re in a pandemic doesn’t mean you can let the public-facing side of your company slip.
Your website shouldn’t look like nothing has changed. Quite the opposite, you should take the lessons learned in the last paragraph and apply them in particular to your homepage. Splash the changes you’ve been forced to make across banners, but assure the average visitor this will not diminish the quality of your service.
It’s often not enough just to say your standards will remain high though. You need to show it. Think about the most important and prominent sections of your online store. Your product pages, for example, cannot lax during this crisis, particularly for new products. These pages don’t just need to excite, entertain and inspire, they need to inform the customer (as you can see many of these industry-leading examples do).
You can’t afford to let the quality of your images diminish, your descriptions become less informing and your processes become less smooth or else customers will start to question whether or not there are other issues with your business.
Likewise, your customer service needs to remain at a high standard throughout the COVID pandemic. If you’re running with a diminished team let your customers know that, rather than leaving them waiting for assistance in the dark. Keep reiterating when you’re available and that you’re there to help across all of your channels so all your customers get the message.
Share uplifting content
Prior to COVID, uplifting content could feel a bit sickly sweet.
There’s nothing worse than an ad campaign that comes across as insincere. While there has been a good helping of COVID-themed adverts around now that have left a bad taste in some people’s mouths, the general consensus is that people want content that takes their mind of the virus for a bit or at least reminds them of the good in the world. Expect many of these to top the most loved campaigns of the year lists.
Don’t be afraid to get all sentimental on your audience in your content throughout the remainder of this crisis. They’ll want to know that on a personal level their favorite brands are surviving these difficult times. Video content, in particular, is effective for achieving these aims. It can reassure your customers that everything is running smoothly, and allow a more human communication of your personal experience.
Try not to focus on the negatives. Use your space and platforms to offer a reassuring escape for your customers from the difficulties of living under lock down. It won’t just earn you lots of views and engagement, but maybe a couple of customers for life.
It doesn’t take extensive customer surveys to tell you people are scared and confused right now. This will start to show in their shopping habits, and brands need to get ahead of the game and make sure their customer’s feelings are at ease. Follow these steps to put out a confident, positive message.
Guest Author Bio:
Kayleigh Alexandra is a writer for Micro Startups, your online destination for everything startup. She’s passionate about hard-working solopreneurs and SMEs making waves in the business world.