Your customers are the key to navigating successfully through and out of COVID-19. Without a steady stream of buyers, you can’t hope to keep up with operational expenses, let alone build your brand. But there’s some good news: Consumer retention behaviors amid coronavirus are working in your favor.

Customer service staff serving a client via phone

According to figures compiled from an Accenture consumer survey, 41% of shoppers are sticking with companies they know and trust during the pandemic. Plus, nearly a quarter of them are making shopping decisions for someone else, meaning your best customers are consistently introducing others to your brand.

How do you break through the noise so you can stand out among your competitors and ensure that your customers become loyal fans? Reinvigorating your customer service game using the following strategies is a smart start.

Move to a cloud-based CCaaS solution

Make no mistake about it: Your customers won’t hesitate to get in touch with you when they have questions, problems, or concerns. How your team responds during those vital moments can win a buyer for life—or lose repeat business.

To streamline all inbound and outbound customer service, invest in a CCaaS (contact center as a service) solution. Top CCaaS providers concentrate on helping you reduce customer-company friction by storing all information in one service-centric location. For example, when an unhappy customer calls into your system, a CCaaS system will be set up to minimize hiccups and efficiently move the customer to an acceptable solution.

In terms of technology, CCaaS remains cutting-edge. Use your CCaaS system to keep customers happier so they don’t take their business elsewhere.

Give customers more power

People like to control their buying decisions, which is one of the reasons Amazon Prime’s “Try Before You Buy” program is such an attractive way to buy apparel online. Customers get all the power without having to make upfront financial commitments. By showing faith in their buyers, Amazon can increase its relationship with Prime customers, as well as encourage non-Prime shoppers to become members.

Whenever possible, let shoppers own their experiences, right down to goofy requests. Recently, a Delaware delivery driver was caught on camera responding to a young customer’s quirky suggestion that she knock three times before saying “Abracadabra” and running quickly away from the house. Unusual as the request was, the driver compiled and was unknowingly videoed in the process. The driver received press and kudos for entertaining the odd delivery demand.

Gather your team members and brainstorm ways to rev up your customer service in similar ways. You don’t have to give customers the keys to the car, of course. Just let them navigate while you steer. Local and nationally franchised pizza places often invite buyers to request that their toppings be arranged in a certain way or design. These little touches may seem ridiculous, but they empower customers—and entice them to come back—without reducing your corporate control.

Clipping discount coupons

Make coupons and discounts count

Have you ever received a coupon from a company that seemed almost pitiful or more like bait-and-switch? (What you received said products were “up to 90% off…,” but almost nothing decent was reduced more than five percent.) Instead of sending out your usual coupons, consider what discounts customers will actually use right now.

You might find out that 24-hour flash events are more successful than days-long sales. Or you could discover that customers are more willing to buy if they get special freebies, like bottles of personal hand sanitizer with orders above a specific amount.

Resist the temptation to revert to the way you used to set up sales. They probably won’t convert like before. The coronavirus crisis has changed buying behaviors tremendously, and that means you’ll have to follow suit. For instance, nearly 40% of survey participants told Accenture that they were shopping less frequently, and about a quarter were purchasing more than they ordinarily would per trip. These changes naturally affect what types of discounts your customers will most appreciate.

Update your FAQs page(s)

Most corporate FAQ pages skirt the realm of downright boring. Take time to refresh your FAQs, removing some and adding others. You may also want to include FAQs related to COVID-19, such as how your operations have changed to promote the safety of employees, customers, and community.

What are some proven methods to make your FAQs shine, or even cause them to be shared on social media? One terrific strategy is to incorporate video answers. From the CEO to your tech intern, practically any staffer can explain something on video. The more inventive and personal you are with your answers, the more they’ll be appreciated. You might even get a refreshing SEO boost if you treat your FAQs pages and videos as opportunities to drive organic inbound traffic through keyword-rich content and metadata.

As you’re working through your FAQs, look for areas of improvement. Let’s say that one of the questions your customers always ask you is, “Why do my boxes always come with the tape partially ripped off?” If this is a recurring issue, you can probably do something to eliminate it rather than making a FAQ to explain why the experience happens regularly. Above all else, use this process to become more helpful so your customers won’t think of going anywhere else.

Engaging customer by explaining product well

Become the trusted friend your customers deserve

When your customers need assistance, do they head straight for your website or social media pages for advice? Or do they go somewhere else to get inspired, obtain information, or learn something new?

Ideally, you want your brand to become the go-to source for your industry. A tried-and-true way to become the expert in your field is to act like a knowledgeable buddy. Host occasional Zoom meetings to share insider details. Create tutorials about trending topics. Whenever possible, interact with your customers in casual, relationship-building ways.

You could start today by adding handwritten thank-you notes to every package or invoice you send. Yes, this takes time. However, the coronavirus has made person-to-person connecting more valuable than ever. If spending three minutes composing a simple, yet nicely written, note card prevents you from losing a customer, isn’t it worth the effort?

Shoppers haven’t stopped buying. But the vast majority have radically altered their pre-coronavirus consumer habits. Put your clients’ needs front and center so you can make sure your brand stays top-of-mind and continues to reap the financial rewards of being truly customer-centric during and after COVID-19.