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COVID-19 and Customers: Your Game Plan for Retention

COVID-19 and Customers: Your Game Plan for Retention

by Jennifer Robison

Story Highlights

  • COVID-19 is greatly disrupting your ability to meet customers' needs
  • Discover how deeper engagement affects purchasing decisions
  • Meet customer needs with effective and simple communication

A recent Gallup article reported how executives at 100 CHRO Roundtable organizations worldwide plan to protect and sustain their business functions during the global novel coronavirus pandemic and economic turmoil.

These business leaders, whose companies average $27 billion in revenue with 80,000 employees, are addressing numerous issues at once -- including, they tell Gallup, potential disruptions in their ability to meet their customers' needs.

That is a very difficult task under the circumstances, but Gallup customer analytics can simplify it. Our research shows that aligning your organization's purpose with customers' emotional needs powerfully affects your consumers' spending, their opinions of the brand and their retention. It sounds like a more ambitious effort than it really requires, and it can help sustain your business now -- and protect it for the future.

Engagement, Purpose Forge Crucial Customer Relationships

First, understand that emotional engagement is always more powerful than rational satisfaction.

Gallup research shows that engaged B2C customers -- those who strongly agree that the brand they patronize "always delivers on what they promise," that it's "the perfect company for people like me" and that they're "proud to be a customer" -- return a 23% premium in terms of share of wallet, profitability, revenue and relationship growth over the average customer. Companies that engage their B2B customers by "becoming a trusted adviser" and "delivering customer impact" see 50% higher revenue/sales, 34% higher profitability and 63% lower customer attrition.

The compelling effect of engagement on purchasing decisions reflects how deeply attached customers can be to a brand. But Gallup finds that leveraging your purpose as well can substantially enhance your customers' attachment: When customers are aligned with a brand's purpose, they give that brand twice as much share of wallet (47%) as customers who aren't aligned with that same brand (23%).

Save Time Making Tough Decisions

Factoring engagement and purpose into decisions may seem like adding a layer of complexity to an overloaded C-suite. In fact, just the opposite is true. It makes everything simpler. Using engagement and purpose as a prism through which you make decisions reduces the number of choices you have to make. And it lets you better predict the outcomes of your efforts.

For B2Bs, that means doing what only you can do to help your customer's business succeed in tough times. In B2Cs, purpose informs how the organization delivers on its brand promise -- and how it can be "the perfect company" for its customers (who are facing unprecedented decisions of their own) so they can be proud of their patronage.

India-based custom clothing retailer eShakti offers an exceptionally good example of how this works at scale. The company defines its culture as being "outcome-oriented (and not activity-oriented)" and "doing the right things (not just doing things right)." Two days after the World Health Organization announced the global COVID-19 pandemic, eShakti founder and CEO BG Krishnan sent an email to customers that explained how viruses behave on various surfaces, outlined how eShakti keeps employees safe, provided links to reputable sources (including MIT Technology Review), and noted how the governments of India and neighboring countries are combating the COVID-19 threat. "This is a humanitarian challenge that we can meet, together," Krishnan concluded the message, "using science and by taking care."

Reach Out to Meet Customer Needs

Krishnan's short, simple message typifies the company's outcome-oriented, humanistic purpose and executes on the emotional elements that engage his customers. And it meets customers where they are: Six in 10 Americans are now "very" (26%) or "somewhat worried" (34%) that they or someone in their family will be exposed to the novel coronavirus, according to a recent Gallup poll.

That's all a company has to do to deepen -- or spark -- a customer's relationship with a brand. Just like you, your customers are enduring massive upheaval. They're making difficult decisions too: who can be trusted, who will help make things better, who keeps their promises. And when this crisis is behind us, as it surely will be, customers will remember the brands that satisfied their rational needs -- and those that genuinely met their emotional needs during a very tough time.

Learn more about strengthening the emotional connection between your customers and your company during disruption:

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