A Commercial Divorce: How the Pandemic is affecting Loyalty of Customers to Brands and What to do about It in 2021

Posted by. Disrupt Tech. September 4, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought a devastating recession along with it. The United Nations (UN) estimated that global Gross Domestic Product (GDP) will shrink by 1%. While developed countries witnessed around 2.9% reduction on average. The poverty rate increased in countries around the world. Such as India, the number of poor people increased from 60 million to 134 million within a year.

We saw a surge in the number of rich too. According to Forbes, 493 new billionaires joined the World’s Billionaires’ List.

Can you believe that only the wealth of American billionaires increased by $1 Trillion within just one year? The total accumulated wealth of US billionaires stands at roughly $4 Trillion in 2021!

As the earning patterns are changing, customers are changing their buying habits. Brand loyalty seems like a thing of the past. In fact, 33% of customers in the US have already changed their buying habits in 2020. McKinsey says, “In…the U.S., upward of 60% of consumers who tried a new behavior plan to stick with it post-crisis.”

So, what is affecting consumer behavior? Are you sure your customers are not losing trust in you? Let’s discuss why loyalty matters and how you can earn and sustain the loyalty of your customers during one of the most challenging times in human history.

Why Customer Loyalty Matters for Businesses

How would you feel if you had to spend money to bring customers every time? A business without loyal customers would crumble within a very short period as it would run out of marketing budget. According to a study, loyal customers spend 5 to 25 times more than irregular customers.

Let’s briefly discuss why customer loyalty matters –

» Reduced Cost of Customer Acquisition: It is easier to retain a customer than to acquire a new one. You can use Cost Per Acquisition(CPA) to quantify your customer acquisition cost.

» Easier Forecasting: New acquired customers add to your previous customer’s list. It’s easier to strategize when you have an idea about the number of customers who might visit your e-shop again.

» Positive Word Of Mouth: A satisfied customer is 77% likely to suggest their favorite brand to their family and friends.

Businesses with no returning customers are bound to face downfalls. If you fail to amaze customers, you will run out of targeted groups. Hence, understanding the customer lifecycle is important for earning trust.

How Pandemic Affected Customer Loyalty

Disruptive! That’s how almost every small business felt during the COVID-19 pandemic. Online businesses dominated. Customers with low to medium earning are thinking twice before spending on high-end brands. Mainly, there are three C’s to put our focus on to understand how the pandemic has affected customer loyalty;

1ST C – Convenience

When it comes to online shopping, customers want an easy-in, easy-out solution. 1 in 3 (38%) customers would leave your online store if the navigation is difficult. According to a study by Google, 53% of the visitors from mobile devices would leave your website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load.

Customers want to fulfill their needs faster & easily. If your website can portray the best-suited product within the first 2 searches, there you have it.

2ND C – Communications

Regular communication with your existing customers is a must. But don’t be “spammy.” 1 in 2 baby boomers wants control over the amount of E-mail they get from advertisers. However, 25% of the overall customers welcome E-mails with special discount offers.

As the wise say, you should not overstay anywhere. In marketing, you should not overflow your customers’ emails. Asking someone, again and again, bothers them, can lead to negative impacts.

3RD C – Customer Incentive

Every good relationship requires you to put incentives. You have to create win-win situations for both of you & your customers.

Sometimes, you have to offer exclusive incentives to keep them happy. We all know, happy customers are the most important aspect of brand loyalty. Just like happy couples stay longer together.

1 in 3 (29%) customers want early access to their favorite brand. Companies with exclusive fan clubs or reward policies are expected to see a surge in loyal customers. You can send early notifications or E-mails to inform your customers and add them to a branded exclusive reward club.

How Businesses Can Increase Brand Loyalty In 2021

Since the beginning of 2020, companies have adjusted to the new trend of online businesses. Stock prices of Amazon, Google, Facebook, Shopify, Tesla, etc. went up, breaking all the previous records. Because people believe, even after a pandemic, the market share of e-companies will increase. Here’s how you too can adopt the policies taken by the giants to increase brand loyalty;

Run Loyalty Programs

Customers love exclusivity. Amazon has a Prime membership program, Costco’s 90% of sales come from members, and The North Face’s exclusive members shop twice more than an average customer and spends 20% more.

Offer Discounts

Branding experts might not accept discounting strategies. However, if the target segment prefers budget products, you can leverage special discount programs. For example, Evaly, a Bangladeshi e-commerce site ran ‘Cyclone’ programs for 2 hours on weekends discounting products 35 – 70%. This allows the company to gain economies of scale.

Give A Space to Notify Complains

Some customers need a space to post their opinion. They want you to listen, they want to feel relieved by expressing their opinion. And their opinion matters. Your website should have a dedicated space for them to post. Let them post anything, literally anything. This is for you!

Use Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Software

Surprise your customers with personalized greetings on special occasions. Their birthday, anniversary, or cultural holidays are significant for them. E-mail them or text them. They’ll love you more.

Use Approachable Contact Points

People like simple ways. The more complications, the more threatened they’ll feel. The following points are important to remember;

» Choose a voice artist with an approachable and soft voice.

» Greet customers and make them feel respected

» Listen to their feedback and encourage them to speak up, not against you, rather for you.

» Provide as much information you can. Add details.

» Choose soft colors (Sky blue, green, pink white, etc.) for your website.

Improve Customer Experience

Make your website simple, easy, and fast. The payment process should not take more than 3 clicks. You can use a third-party payment gateway service for faster transaction & verification of transactions.

Loyalty Is Your Biggest Reward

In both relationships or businesses, loyalty is the biggest reward you can achieve. It takes courage, dedication, and persistence to earn a reputation as a consistent business. The world’s largest retail platform, Amazon puts customer satisfaction first. Customers are always right, always perfect, no matter how much you have perfected your service.

Let’s recall a quote by Sam Walton, the founder of Walmart & Sam’s Club, who has almost perfected the art of customer service

“There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company, from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.”