Little has changed the outlook of modern business as much as the coronavirus pandemic. In just a short amount of time, companies of all shapes and sizes have had to reorganize, reanalyze, and reassess. In reassessing your finances for 2021, you need to work out how you can stay ahead while maintaining customer relationships.
Nothing will be quite as vital to your success as building customer satisfaction. This requires humanizing your business, starting with an empathetic approach that puts your customers at the center. This approach means learning to meet their needs in a lucrative way.
Implementing your customer-centric strategy starts with responsible budgeting. As you reassess and re-examine your financial situation for the coming fiscal year, you’ll need to balance many factors. Marketing, customer experience, and customer service should all be maintained amidst other cuts. Here’s how you can better manage that balance.
The pandemic discarded all previous customer behavior data and replaced it with new shopping and buying habits to match the strange times. Your customers are coming from a different place than they were last year. They have new health, work-life balance, and economic difficulties to consider.
Maintaining your business’s reputation and functionality will rely on you anticipating and meeting these altered needs and concerns of the modern consumer. Empathy here is your best friend. While larger companies may be able to take a financial hit in forgiving upcoming payments or offering special promotions, you may not be in the same place. That does not mean there aren’t ways to express care to both your customers and your employees.
If you’re operating on a tighter budget, your focus should be entirely directed towards shoring up convenience and accessibility for all of your customers. This is where empathetic thinking can go a long way. By placing yourself in your customer’s shoes, you can better brainstorm methods of providing convenience for the modern era, create messaging that expresses your care and understanding, and outline cost-effective measures for instituting health and safety programs.
One invaluable tool in your effort to provide convenience and accessibility to your customers is CRM software. CRM tools can return your investment by as much as $8.71 for every dollar you spend—this is on top of the benefits these systems offer customers and businesses alike. CRMs can help you manage data, personalize offers, and create a smoother customer experience that any harried parent working from home can easily manage.
In addition to software, some common accessibility measures to help customers include:
- Reaching out with messaging focused more on support and less on marketing.
- Instituting health safety standards for employees and workplaces.
- Expanding digital and delivery options.
- Integrating data cloud services.
- Using social media to communicate effectively with customers.
All these options and more keep the focus on the customer. However, it’s likely your budget will not allow for an all-encompassing customer experience strategy.
Seventy-five percent of businesses say they have been harmed by the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. There’s a three-in-four chance that it has affected you as well. Reassessing your finances for 2021 requires juggling dozens of competing factors in an order to make the best financial decision for your business.
Because most small business owners and entrepreneurs are actively engaged in many if not all aspects of their business, much of the accounting and budgeting will fall to you. This leaves you with important accounting considerations to make both during and after the pandemic. These include:
- Impairment of assets (e.g. an unoccupied workspace).
- Fluctuating values of inventory.
- Workplace restructuring and workflow changes.
In the midst of all this, it can be exceptionally difficult knowing what to cut down on in favor of a robust customer relations strategy. Luckily, some assistance programs have emerged such as the CARES Act that can help you manage your finances through a loan. When attempting to balance for a customer-centric strategy, explore options like:
- Public and private assistance.
- Debt relief.
- Low-interest loans.
- Financial goal re-evaluation.
- Operational restructures.
These considerations may or may not help you as you struggle to set a manageable budget for the coming year, but they are a place to start. Explore your data, customer opinions, and these options as you reassess your finances for 2021.
Striking the Right Balance
While it can be exceptionally hard to strike the right balance between a customer-focused business approach and all the other expenses previously necessary for operating your business, it can be done. However, it will take a constant awareness of financial and customer data.
By keeping your finger on the pulse of your day-to-day operations alongside consumer opinion, you set yourself up for greater success. Any small business looking for financial management advice should consider the power of data and customer-focused platforms. Software that keeps you updated on all your current trends— alongside data you get from social media insights— will help you maintain that tightrope line between financial viability and customer commitment.
Remember, data is your friend. Maintain an awareness of your industry and your local economy through data while juggling your own metrics. Set and communicate clear key performance indicators. Research the essential aspect of a customer-first approach.
In turn, you can generate not just business in the short-term, but success in the long-term.
In the COVID-19 era, little is more important than an empathetic business approach. By taking your consumers’ direct concerns and turning them into convenient business practices, you are structuring a working model valuable even to families struggling with finances during the pandemic.
This approach takes customer outreach. This is far from possible in today’s world without an active social media engagement strategy. Then, analyze your finances with the same level of care to see where long-term goals might need to be pushed back or operations restructured to give you greater customer service power. Where you can, consider technologies like chatbots and CRM software to better assist you in your endeavors.
Reassessing your finances for 2020 with customers in mind can be a daunting task. However, with these strategies, you can better walk that tightrope to develop a thriving business model for any economy.