How do you meet normal customer expectations when the world’s been reduced to anything but normal? Companies have been searching for the answer to this question (among others) since the arrival of COVID-19.
But the answer is the same as it’s always been. You can have an incredible product, the best employees, stand-out marketing, few competitors, and still fail if you lose sight of the most important part of your business: your customer.
Customer satisfaction must be the target you aim for. You can make a lot of mistakes and face a lot of hardship and still emerge successful as long as you’re devoted to meeting and exceeding customer expectations.
Even in a global pandemic, customer satisfaction should be at the heart of your strategy. Here’s why now is the perfect time to reassess and prioritize customer satisfaction.
The virtuous cycle of customer satisfaction
If your customers are happy, they’re often more loyal. If they’re more loyal, they’re more likely to continue using your products or services. This is the virtuous cycle customer satisfaction sets in motion and why it’s so important to your strategy.
Even when service can’t function as it usually does. We saw this as the pandemic began and many restaurants had to close their doors, limiting their service to takeout. Yet loyal customers kept showing up to support their favorite businesses.
Still, these are trying times for many businesses, and while you might have been focused on the customer before the pandemic, now many organizations are struggling to keep the lights on and their team employed. Some may argue they don’t have the time or resources to put into customer satisfaction initiatives or campaigns. Not to mention that the way they previously served customers has been transformed.
The way you achieve customer satisfaction today might not be the way you achieved it last year. But customer satisfaction should still be the north star of your strategy and guide any pivot or transformation you need to get there.
Listen, learn, and prioritize the right things
Prioritizing customer satisfaction means understanding, meeting, and exceeding customer needs. Start by listening. Survey your customers, talk to them. Encourage direct customer feedback and monitor social media chatter. Find out what they’re really interested in and why. Show your customers that you care about their needs. Let them know that you’re there for them now and after the pandemic.
The insights gleaned from these conversations will leave you in a better position to incorporate changes into your overall business strategy. That could be improving the functionality and reliability of your website and mobile app. It might be reassessing customer service, especially for critical services right now like broadband internet. It could mean enhancing the quality of a product or offering more variety, without raising the price.
In addition to making sure your customers’ needs are met, don’t forget about your own employees. You must take care of them as well. Offer them support, provide them with a safe work environment, give them reasons to want to come to work. If your employees have a better experience, your customers will too.
Which companies are prioritizing customer satisfaction?
The current economic situation, for all its hardships, is also an opportunity. Some organizations – and industries – are seizing it, driven by their pursuit of customer satisfaction.
Since the onset of stay-at-home orders, there’s been a major uptick in the use of streaming services. And while Netflix has been dominating this arena for quite some time, Disney+ appealed to consumers’ desire for original content by debuting “Hamilton.” This resulted in a 74% increase in Disney+ app downloads in the United States compared to the average four weekends in June, according to Apptopia.
After online grocery sales grew as much as fivefold during the height of the pandemic lockdowns, retailers are responding. Walmart is taking aim at Amazon Prime’s delivery empire by announcing it will launch its own membership service, Walmart+, in July. While there’s an annual membership fee, the perks are expected to directly address customer needs, from reserved grocery delivery slots and unlimited same-day grocery delivery to gas discounts and allowing in-store customers to check out without waiting in line.
CVS is also getting into the delivery game by partnering with DoorDash to deliver non-prescription items in select cities. The expansion of no-contact deliveries and as well as not requiring pre-scheduled delivery slots alleviate customer concerns about in-store shopping and frustrations with overbooked grocery delivery services.
And, of course, even as more and more restaurants begin welcoming customers back to the storefront, they refuse to turn their backs on services that have become even more prevalent during the pandemic. Contactless delivery and curbside pickup won’t just disappear.
These are just a few examples. However, they’re an indication that many companies are pivoting to meet the needs of their customers despite a pandemic that changed business models practically overnight.
Putting the customer first
At some point – who knows when – we’re going to come out on the other side of COVID-19. And when that time comes, the companies that figure out how to put the customer first are going to thrive.
Even in trying times, customer satisfaction should be a guiding benchmark. By measuring, monitoring, and listening to what consumers want, then implementing improvements to fit those needs, businesses can find new life and jump start the cycle of satisfaction and loyalty that drives the most successful businesses.