It’s been a year full of hardships for businesses and their customers. If there’s one positive to take from 2020, though, it’s that we’ve been able to take stock of our real priorities. Companies can use this year’s trials as a learning experience to shape their customer relations in 2021.
Connecting with your consumer base has always been crucial, but it’s now more critical than ever. Many people feel isolated, and many others have grown increasingly skeptical of companies’ intentions. In a saturated market with disconnected consumers, the way businesses reach out to customers is of paramount importance.
Here’s how businesses can connect with customers in 2021.
Personalization shows that you, at least to some extent, care about customers as individuals, not just a group. It’s also something that today’s consumers have come to expect. Studies find that 80% of consumers of all ages are more likely to do business with a company that offers personalized experiences.
Customers enjoy personalization because it gives them something no one else has. In a world of mass-produced products, that’s increasingly hard for a consumer to have. Personalized products or experiences stand out among the saturated crowd and help customers feel seen.
2. Taking a Stance on Social Issues
Apart from the pandemic, perhaps the most significant cultural happening in 2020 was widespread calls and marches for social justice. Since just 62% of men and 47% of women trust businesses to do what is right, taking a stance can help a company stand out. Consumers will appreciate and do business with a company if it aligns with their values.
This doesn’t mean businesses have to speak out about controversial subjects, which could harm their public perception. Companies can take action like starting environmental initiatives or donating some proceeds to fight hunger. If businesses show they care about the same things consumers do, customers will respond positively.
3. Conversational Commerce
The pandemic has made people feel isolated, with 47% of American adults feeling lonelier since the outbreak. Conversational commerce will likely prove increasingly useful as people yearn for connections and conversation. This strategy involves transactions that happen through conversations with users.
Consumers spend 85% of their smartphone time using just five apps. More often than not, these are social media apps. If businesses use these platforms to talk to users, it provides customers some comfort through familiarity and connection. It also gives companies an ideal place to make sales or market without feeling like a business.
4. Transparency About Data Management
Consumers have become more aware of how companies access their data in recent years. With high-profile data breaches populating news headlines more frequently, people have grown concerned over their privacy. As a result, businesses that are more open about their data management will connect with consumers better.
A 2019 Salesforce survey found that more than half of customers don’t think most companies are transparent about how they use data. The same study shows that 73% of consumers believe trust in companies matters more now. If businesses hope to connect with customers, they’ll have to demonstrate their trustworthiness when it comes to data.
5. Augmented Reality
A more tangible strategy more businesses will employ in 2021 is augmented reality (AR). According to a 2018 survey, 3 out of 4 Americans prefer AR over video for shopping. With COVID-19 raising concerns about public spaces like brick-and-mortar stores, customers will likely keep gravitating towards AR.
AR can show customers what products will look like in their homes before they buy anything. Similarly, they can let consumers see what clothes or accessories look like on them without being in a physical store. These services help companies reach out to and help customers no matter the distance between them.
6. Loyalty Programs
It costs several times as much to gain a new customer than to retain an existing one. Given that fact, and the growing distrust in big businesses, companies need to focus on fostering loyalty. These types of programs are best implemented through the use of customer loyalty software.
Loyalty incentives are particularly beneficial during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has caused many people to lose their jobs. Giving repeat customers discounts helps them lessen their financial burden and helps build brand loyalty.
7. Omnichannel Support
Finally, more businesses in 2021 will adopt omnichannel support. Customers have a wide array of options to interact with companies, so it’s frustrating to get a different experience on each one. A consistent user experience across all channels can be a welcome change of pace.
The average U.S. household has seven connected devices with screens, and that number keeps rising. People don’t use just one device to interact with brands, so brand interactions should be consistent across all devices. If they aren’t, it could turn customers away.
Connecting With Customers Is More Important Than Ever
Consumers value personal connections, and they express that value through their purchasing decisions. If brands want to stay profitable in 2021 and beyond, they’ll have to make an effort to connect with consumers. These seven strategies are helping companies do just that.