How to Re-engage Your Customers

For what seems like forever, your focus has been on keeping your business alive during the restrictions from the pandemic. 

Your focus is about to shift.

You had to get creative on getting through shutdowns. Now you need to get creative on re-engaging customers who now have different habits, concerns, and spending ability than they did just over a month ago.

How do you successfully shift gears so quickly?

It comes down to knowing what people want, and how to meet that in a new normal. We all want basic things, and you can meet those requirements with a bit of creativity.

Your customers want to feel safe.

You’ve likely made new changes at your business with health and safety in mind, but did you let your customers know?

There’s a lot of information out there that your customers are trying to process, and it can be tough to keep everything straight. Don’t assume your customers know that you’ve made changes. 

Tell them what you did.

Tell them why you did it.

Let them know you care that they feel safe in your business.

Use your social media, your email lists, and however else you communicate with your customers. You’re not tooting your own horn. You’re saying something very simple: customer safety matters, and we did something about it.

Your customers want to feel welcome and valued.

In a similar vein, customers need to feel welcome. 

Some of the new safety changes might have unintended ripple effects. Do your changes make customers feel like a hassle for your staff? Do they make them feel as if they are in the way?

Each customer needs to feel as if it was a good idea to come back and do business with you.

Provide individualized attention and adhere to safety guideline through personal shopping appointments. Maybe offering a personal shopper service using your staff would increase sales while reducing crowding in your store. 

If you have socially distanced wait lines at your store to control crowd numbers, take a page out of Disney’s playbook and make waiting fun. While no one likes to wait in line for an attraction, Disney has made a name for themselves out of entertaining guests while they wait so they don’t notice the passage of time. Provide entertainment along the way like selfie stations, free games on your business’s app, creative posters positioned along the line with trivia for prizes or coupons— be creative! Find a way to take customer’s minds off the wait.

And, of course, let your customers know if your hours have changed. Try to standardize your hours in a way that isn’t difficult for your customers to remember, avoiding several different open and closing times throughout the week. 

Your customers want a sense of normalcy.

When things aren’t normal, everything seems scary. We tend to feel more at ease, and safer, when we are in familiar situations. However, things have changed and even old familiar businesses are going to seem unfamiliar during this time.

By now, many people have gotten used to the “new normal”— social distancing at checkout lines, clear barriers at the register— but you still want to find ways to make the temporary new normal feel familiar for your customers.

One key way to do this is in how you handle your signage.

Look around stores right now. 

Signs are taped to doors, posted on aisles, stuck on the floors, and hastily propped up against registers. These signs offer warnings, guidance, instruction, and new rules. Some are hand-written, some are printed on the office printer on plain copy paper. There is almost an overload of them, with lots of words, lots of different colors, lots of do’s and don’ts— it is confusing and stressful for your customer.

Which sign are they supposed to read first? Are they accidentally going to break a rule? Did they miss important information?  All of those signs can be overwhelming and, after a while, easy to ignore.

You can still create a sense of normalcy even with signs you need to use for now.

Ask yourself:

  1. What are the most important guidelines my customers need?
  2. What order do they need to see them? 
  3. Where do they need to see them?
  4. What signs are unnecessary?
  5. What messages can I consolidate?

Keep your instructions pared down to as tight a message as you can so you have fewer signs. Make your signs professional in appearance, with crisp graphics and copy (and correct spelling), branded to match your store’s colors or logo. Laminate your signs, or put them in plastic holders. Share images of your new signs online so people get used to seeing them before they see them in person.

This is professional. It feels permanent and not haphazard as if there is some order in all the craziness. Your business will appear visually cleaner, and clean is popular right now.

Every change you make, no matter how temporary it is, should match your brand. Everything should look as clean and tidy as it can. Remember, your customer is used to your store. Every sign or safety feature should fit your brand to be less intrusive and to require less effort for your customers to get used to.

Your customers want to be part of something.

Being isolated at home hasn’t been easy for anyone. Create opportunities for your customers to be a part of a group (even a socially distanced group).

  • Have contests or discussions on social media platforms. Let customers communicate with each other and you. Have positive and upbeat topics they can all share their thoughts on. Think of creative contests your customers and their families can participate in. Best drawing of the family dog, or top ten things they are most looking forward to when things get back to normal.
  • Help them help others as a group. There are many in your community in need, including your customers. Perhaps each purchase could give a percentage or flat amount back to community organizations that meet those needs. National organizations are great, too, but consider your community first. People are craving actual connection and helping closer to home touches that need. 
  • Provide an outlet for local business support. Participate in things such as Operation Main Street or Support Local, which makes it easy to purchase gift cards for businesses that aren’t able to open up yet. 
  • Indicate your plans or events. You might not be able to set a date, but it serves as a reminder to your customer that there is a future. Let your customers provide suggestions for fun future events.

This is all about building solidarity and hope in and with your community, not competition or division.

Identify your customer’s new habits.

Consumers have formed new habits during this time. Understanding the psychology behind those new consumer habits is crucial.

People’s needs have changed. They might be cautious about how they spend, and be less inclined towards making some kinds of purchases. 

Consider:

  1. What new habits have my customers picked up when it comes to businesses like mine?
  2. What new concerns have changed how my customers view my business? 
  3. Is my core method of business now in question because of the new consumer psychology? 
  4. Can I continue providing the adapted services (such as delivery) along with what I used to do, or will I need to phase out of something?

These new consumer habits may be a mix of contactless payment, concerns about people touching merchandise, a preference for digital products, social distancing, and more cautious spending. 

In a tight economy, consumers are focusing on needs less than wants. Find a way to adjust your business to fit those needs, whether it’s in what you offer or how you market it.

Take advantage of free advertising.

Advertising isn’t new. It’s something you already do to engage your customer. 

Facebook, Yelp, and other online platforms have programs offering free advertising and other deals to help businesses during this time. From setting up a GoFundMe or using free delivery options through Shopify, chances are pretty good one or several of your service providers have something to help you out.

Start gearing up your advertising. Plan your campaign with a structured approach. And then, flip the switch. Have a Grand Re-Opening. Have a sale to clear out spring merchandise that was never sold. And most importantly, thank your customers sincerely, and reassure them of the future.

Image source: Chairs Vectors by Vecteezy

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