The pandemic overhauled nearly every aspect of our lives. Customer behavior was one of the most dramatically impacted. In fact, a whopping 78% of small- and midsize-business leaders reported a change in customers’ buying behavior as a direct result of the pandemic, according to research from Vistage Worldwide, Inc.
Chief Research Officer, Vistage
“It is mission-critical for companies to focus on creating new relationships to retain customers and ensure satisfaction.”
Business leaders must adapt to the evolving needs of customers to successfully gain and maintain loyalty. The following are the top three considerations for companies hoping to maximize customer loyalty in the post-COVID era:
1. Virtual reigns supreme
When the pandemic hit in 2020, our ability to interact, sell, and purchase digitally became increasingly crucial to staying connected. Customers made a mass shift to digital-first and now there’s no turning back.
The benefits for buyers are undeniable, but sellers are learning there are major perks for them, too. For instance, virtual sales calls are more convenient, cost-effective, and productive.
To engage and retain customers, companies must be prepared to promptly meet buyers wherever they are with the information they need to close a deal. This means balancing a strong digital presence that allows for instant engagement and timely responses, while also ensuring in-person options are available and offered with care.
Every interaction counts — from social media, to your website, to in-store.
2. Widespread economic uncertainty
Many buyers are pulling back and tightening their budgets in 2023 after the last few years of extreme market volatility, coupled with rising interest rates and record-high inflation. While undoubtedly a challenge, a slowdown presents an opportunity to increase market share.
Competitors may be forced to increase sales prices, or reduce capabilities or services, which brings forth a unique chance to win over previously spoken for customers whose needs are no longer being met.
3. The workforce revolution
In the wake of the Great Resignation, we are continuing to see a drastic transformation of the workplace. Many critical buyer-seller relationships were broken as a result of this unprecedented turnover. New relationships must be forged in an increasingly digital environment, where brand loyalty is harder than ever to obtain.
It is mission-critical for companies to focus on creating new relationships to retain customers and ensure satisfaction. This also presents yet another opportunity to tap into competitors’ customer-base, where relationships may have been lost.
Businesses must embrace the new customer. Brand loyalty is in flux and now must be gained in the digital-first post-COVID era. This involves re-evaluating the selling process: Prioritize having a compelling, engaging, and customer-focused digital presence. Additionally, sales and marketing teams must be equipped to create and foster meaningful relationships virtually.
Leaders who strategically adjust to the new customer will be the ones best suited to thrive and keep customers coming back for years to come.