There is no doubt that the global Covid-19 pandemic and the accompanying lockdowns brings potential dire consequences. Apart from safeguarding employees, satisfying shareholders, and mitigating the loss of income, business owners also need to be adapting how they show up in the minds of their customers. This means customer feedback must be mindful. Customer surveys now need to reflect an understanding of the current situation and what your customers are going through.
We know that the playing field is forever changed and that customer loyalty is not static. Strengthening relationships is more crucial than ever before. Therefore, it is essential to listen to and respond to your customers as part of your agile adaptability plan.
Two-Way Communication Is Key
It should also be noted that, due to lockdown, customers no longer necessarily have the same access to your brand or service offering. As a result, companies run the risk of not remaining visible and relevant. It is now more than ever, that companies need to communicate with customers. Two way Communication is key. Communication needs to reflect agile responses at an unusual time. One way of adapting with agility through communication is to consider your customer surveys.
Communication Through Surveys
Talking to your customers during lockdown by means of surveys is an efficient way of ensuring that you remain at the forefront of your customers’ minds during this time. It is also a fast means of getting relevant feedback. Surveys in general, are a great way of obtaining information and insights about how to strategically optimize your business performance and offering to better satisfy customer need and expectations. Your customers and end users are in essence the best people from whom to obtain information about the strengths and weaknesses of your brand. “ If you know what makes your customers happy, you’ll be able to think up better ways to treat them” says Mark Charley, sales manager at Career Booster. Some of the benefits of conducting surveys include measuring customer loyalty, establishing brand to consumer communication, satisfaction and feedback about a particular touchpoint, identifying buyer behaviour and sources of customer acquisition.
Types of Surveys
There are various types of customer related surveys each serving a different purpose and objective.
- Voice of customer research will help you identify expectations which will in turn assist in improving overall customer experience.
- Market research surveys give an indication about customer needs and opinion about a certain product. They help companies identify important features that customers are seeking.
- Brand awareness surveys will tell you how well your marketing strategy has paid off. It also tells you associations that people make with your brand, and give indication of how your brand is being perceived so you will be able to determine whether or not the perception is as you intended.
- Customer satisfaction surveys generally occur after an engagement that a customer has had with your company. They investigate the experience the customer had within a particular interaction or touchpoint. These surveys aim at measuring customer satisfaction rather than customer loyalty.
Metrics are Important Now
While companies try to find ways around their financial pressures caused by the Covid-19 crisis, some may decide to reduce or end certain of their regular surveys. This is done to either reduce marketing and research costs at this time or because the company feels these surveys have become inappropriate as customers may no longer be transacting with your company in the usual way due to lockdown regulations. On the other hand there are also companies who are simply continuing to roll out their standard surveys without making any changes. While we understand the motivation behind these decisions, we can tell you one thing for certain, and that is that stopping all forms of metrics is not a good idea for various reasons.
Metrics provide comparative data
You don’t want to stop your surveys altogether because it is important to have data to compare how your company performed in the eyes of your customers before and during Covid-19. This will give you information and insights as to how well you did or did not adapt to the situation and how well you listened and responded to client insight. It will also give you guidance as to what changes you can make in the short term to improve your offering and satisfy your customers’ needs and expectations during this uncertain time.
Surveys tell you how customer needs have changed
Another reason to continue with some type of survey is changing customer needs. Customer experience (CX) has become the primary de facto element when determining competitive advantage strategies for any company within any industry. Under normal circumstances, companies have some luxury of time when designing customer experience strategies.
With the world turned on its head due to Covid-19, companies are being tried and tested in terms of their ability to offer agile responses to the situation which has changed the entire playing field. No longer does the luxury exist for companies to gradually roll out new CX strategies. Customer expectations and needs have been completely altered and in many cases customers are still working out what their new needs are. Survey data may give you an idea about how your customer’s needs have changed and what their new expectations are. This will then provide you with insights into what actions you need to take in order to satisfy these new needs and in this way remain relevant to your customers.
Data insights for agile response
Statistics show that more people are using more data and spending more time online. This provides companies with opportunities to reach out to their customers and obtain insights via online platforms giving them presence and allowing them to course correct and adapt effectively as necessary.
Not Your Normal Surveys
Continuing with your regular standard surveys may however also not be the best idea. It is not business as normal and so it cannot be surveys as normal. Rolling out your surveys as you normally would is therefore not an empathetic agile response to the current situation. Your customers will feel that you lack empathy, relevance and sensitivity. So companies should still obtain metrics through surveys, but the way these surveys are done is changed.
Surveys now need to reflect the current situation and new customer needs. Gently adapt your surveys to include questions that are relevant to your business, the current time and include some bespoke questions that will help you understand the impact the pandemic has had on your customers and how you can help them now.
You need to modify what you are collecting and understand when it is appropriate to intercept customers in this new world. Being able to track & measure the impact of Covid is very important, but what is more important is that you ensure customers are acknowledged & heard. That their concerns are responded to in an appropriate timeframe which is in line with heightened levels of anxiety and frustration that mark the current context.
Remember, Your Customers are Your Community
By letting them know how you are responding to the situation shows empathy. One of our previous articles speaks of the importance of emotional agility as essential in achieving business agility and this situation provides a perfect opportunity for that. Your customers will value being kept informed and knowing how you are adapting to better satisfy their needs now. They will appreciate knowing that you are doing your best at this time. This makes them feel secure and continue to trust your brand as being able to see them through this challenging period.
Contextualise and acknowledge the situation that we currently face when sending out surveys. Include what your company is doing to accommodate changes that the current context has put us all in and importantly, discuss the value you place on the relationship you have with your customers.
Thus your surveys should be more focused on customer relationships rather than merely assessing customer satisfaction with a particular transaction. Ask the right questions, get feedback about if you are geared up enough to handle the situation and how you can help your customers now and later. This will guide your strategy towards creative solutions to keep customers engaged and informed of your strategies at this time.
Author: Yael Benjamin