Customer relationships

Rethinking your customer relationships

Business sentiment this week is turning from discussing survival mode, to thinking about resetting. How best to adapt business strategy to navigate a constantly changing commercial environment,

The priority for many sharing their experiences, is customer focused business planning. Now more than ever this is key to adding value for new and loyal consumers. . 

The following is a round up of practical advice shared during webinars including Experience West Sussex #Sussextourismchat and Enterprise Ireland “Accessing Liquidity & Managing Cashflow” as well as my own reflections so far this week.

Consumer confidence and engagement

  • Customers will trust what they know, so now is the time to build on this trust through scaling up contact to leverage loyalty with engaging and relevant content.
  • With many seeking reassurances about their purchase of services, the quality of any communication is key.  Being open, honest, and transparent about how the business is approaching the impact of Covid-19 and giving clear guidance which addresses potential concerns head on, will build and retain trust. 
  • Use video where possible, rather than lengthy impersonal emails or social media posts, to achieve greater engagement.
  • Involve trusted customers with the decisions around reshaping established products, to clearly meet their new or changing needs.  Not only will this build brand advocacy, their involvement will help get the proposition right for the businesses other customers.
  • Segment your existing customers into clear groups based on their value to the business.  Understanding the characteristics and motivations of your most valuable customers, will enable your marketing and sales resources to target them for maximum return and seek out others.

Business planning

  • Revisit the fundamentals of the business model, based on adapting to customers new propensity to buy relative to their current income levels, or requirements to follow government guidance, rather than your internal needs.
  • Ingenuity, agility and the ability to act fast by taking a flexibility approach to change in the business is key.  Don’t simply set off on a new path and not be able to adapt further as the dynamics change
  • Strategic planning is not going to be one off exercise in 2020! Sensitized analysis of the business model will be needed to continually test your plans and iterate, iterate iterate, as the market and trading environment continually changes over future months.
  • Pivot with purpose to ensure sustainable and viable business model for the future, don’t just chase the revenue with a short termist approach to planning and innovation.
  • Bring all business plans back to the customer for the business – new and old. Those who used to be your ideal customers may have changed.  This will help give clarity on how to diversify the business model. For example, embracing technology and going virtual as some vineyards have done with virtual wine tasting evenings.

Product & service innovation

  • For those who have been able to maintain liquidity of cash flow or lower their financial risk.   Underpinning this position should be a focus on restarting innovation to capitalise on early demand as the recovery develops.
  • Where seasonality impact the business such as in the Tourism sector, innovation and forward selling by packaging products differently, can help to reduce the impact of peaks and troughs, extending the lifecycle of products to transform the business cash flow and efficiency.
  • Collaboration with those who may traditionally have been competitors can offer opportunities which previously didn’t exist.  For example this is currently happening in the UK tourism sector, where a collaborate approach to building out itineraries and offering multi-generational families ready made socially distancing days out on their doorsteps, is fuelling the recovery in Sussex.
  • Don’t innovate in isolation, existing customer loyalty can be recruited to test and use new products to get early feedback on the potential for success and fuel promotional activity and avoid having the best new product no one ever heard about or bought.

If I can support you to seek out the opportunities for your business to innovate, understand your customers in greater depth or define a new purpose for your business plans, please do get in touch I’d be happy to share my experience and help.

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2 thoughts on “Rethinking your customer relationships”

  1. Pingback: The June Hothouse - The Sussex Collaborative

  2. Natasha Shane

    Innovation is so important in these times – have seen some great examples. The Stadt Hotel in Sweden has made some bedrooms into mini dining rooms as they were unable to serve food in the restaurant, giving people an opportunity to dine out in a private safe environment (2-12 people) and allowing the hotel to drive revenue and keep staff employed. You order from the room digitally and the food arrives outside the door

    Am perhaps less keen on the restaurant that added Mannequins to make the restaurant look busy, but its and idea and the owners are trying

    The brew company selling beer and using unemployed musicians who normally perform in pubs to deliver the beer or the London Doughnut (Crosstown Doughnuts) company who collaborated with local artisian food businesses to create food boxes to help them survive

    Most of the time its a new idea or repurposing of something you already do – there are so many ideas out of the crisis to inspire you, with Horsham being a great example, but use some help to get the most of your thinking and make the ideas happen

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