August 18, 2020 Trisha Allmon


The ongoing impact of customer preferences and behavior and how to deliver what consumers expect during difficult circumstances.

Has the world gone crazy? Maybe we ALL lost our minds. It sure seems that way at least.

For some small businesses, the current hit or miss, luck of the draw economy has nothing to do with preparation, planning or even a well-thought out strategy. You are simply either winning or losing – AND, mostly to no fault of your own but because of the type of industry you were in when the pandemic hit!
Not surprising, this has put many companies in reactive mode, and they are desperately struggling to meet consumer needs on almost all fronts. In fact, during the height of the pandemic, Call Miner, a technology company that analyzes customer interactions and agent performance, conducted a survey of 2000 businesses. What they found was that speed, service, empathy, and flexibility were KEY consumer issues during this crisis.

Among concerns were the organization’s ability to adapt to customer’s needs quickly and the manner in which coronavirus-related concerns were handled. In fact, nearly 70% of the respondents stated that customer interactions were NOT dealt with properly AT ALL – leaving many consumers feeling disgruntled and unappreciated – even angry.

Obviously, that wasn’t the intention of the company but because most were not prepared to handle the call volume, the changes in policy or even the questions asked – customer experience fell to the wayside.
As a result, customers are switching providers or finding other alternatives at an alarming rate. Nearly 45% said IF they would have had a better, more favorable customer experience and outcome – they would have stayed. That’s a lot of business to have to replace in times like these especially when consumer behavior will most likely change forever.

By now you realize, whether you are an online business or brick and mortar, it’s clear that your model must PIVOT. Every company policy, response, timing, product, and service will be challenged by instantaneous shifts and new customer demands due to an invisible and unknown factor. We have no end in sight, nor do we know when life or business will return to normal.

It’s clear, you must RETHINK, REINVENT and REBUILD most aspects, if not all, of the customer journey in a way that not only promotes safety and prevention but most importantly, ensures customer loyalty. Understandably, many businesses are paralyzed by fear or by financial constraints right now. But, don’t let that stop you from taking action to position your company for better success. Here’s what you should do:

Listening to your customer and training your representatives to respond quickly, accurately and with empathy will be DIRE to your survival and success.



  1. Connecting with customers – the big winners were those that were proactive and showed empathy for customers individual situations. Everyone is stressed out including your staff and leadership team. It’s important to ensure customers remain in the highest regard despite changes in policy, CDC guideline requirements, adjustments to product/ service delivery or even disagreements with how to handle the aforementioned. The best place to start is by listening to customer’s needs and sympathizing with their situation and responding FAST, accurately, and reliably.
  2. Seamless experience both on and offline – with all the changes, whether online or offline, you’ll need to constantly audit your delivery process so that you can ensure a seamless interaction and customer experience. Many companies are leaving this to chance or not getting feedback fast enough to implement. As a result, customers are switching almost instantly. You can easily prevent lost business by reviewing and auditing delivery, product, customer concerns and employee performance but you must do so in real-time.
  3. Delivering online digital or social options – companies that were able to implement digital options were the biggest winners. Nonetheless, many businesses, even if they were able to act, failed to do so seamlessly. The key here is to constantly look for improvements and upgrades to the experience. If you were not lucky enough to have online options, now is the time to strategically plan so that in the future you are prepared to serve and deliver in alternative ways.
  4. Redefine the in-store experience – Although you may have to adapt to some online platform in the future, in-store may be the ONLY viable method of delivery long-term depending on your industry. For instance, dentist, salons, etc… While there are many dual online/offline strategies you can explore, something to consider now before business returns to pre-COVID activity, is redefining your in-store experience. You can do that by implementing new technology, customer experiences, pricing strategy, brand image, etc… the list is long. If you are listening to customers, you will definitely find new and creative ways to serve them to ensure customer loyalty. Think out of the box here.
  5. Analyze customer preferences in real time – Again, the focus is on listening to your customers voice. At GrowthSmart, we believe in auditing everything from soup to nuts in the businesses we consult. That is even more important now because everything has changed as we know it. It’s also great to get an outside perspective like mystery shoppers, online reviews or a 3rd party research firm to help you conduct an analysis. You can also use AI analytics, technology, or even customer surveys as well. The best thing you can do for your business in this climate is to stay on top of consumer needs as quickly as possible using customer insights as your guide.
  6. Engaging with customers and delivering messages to key channels – It’s critical to remain in contact often with customers and key channels. As emails and information channels are inundated with messages during this pandemic, it is important to provide relevant information to the proper segment. Using multiple channels to correspond is equally as valuable in the coming months. Make sure you plan this out methodically.
  7. Reeducate employees and staff – Last but certainly NOT least… we are seeing a real issue with employee morale, attitudes, and frustrations. Sadly, this is directly affecting the customer experience and could be costing you in LOST business that you cannot afford to lose. Most the time, it’s no fault of the employee, it’s just a sign of the times we are experiencing. You must reinvest in mindset, team building, product/ service knowledge and customer experience more than ever. Get an outside trainer or consultant that can prepare scenario training, role play and hot seats with scripts that can help you adjust your training needs to serve your clients even better.

We know the struggle is REAL! Making unexpected shifts can cause confusion, fear and uncertainty with employees, customers and even YOU. There are steps you can take now. You must look at your STRATEGY even though the path may still be unclear. Don’t wait. Ask for help! Get outside expertise and advice that can help you navigate uncharted waters with professionals that have experience with rebounding markets after economic crisis. Smart leaders are learning to balance innovation, operational efficiency, AND pivot strategies to adjust their business models quickly and YOU can too. Start by taking advantage of our free resources below or calling us for a complimentary consultation.

GrowthSmart, founded in 2010, is a global management consulting firm that helps small to enterprise size companies build and implement world-class marketing, sales, and training systems. In an ongoing effort to help businesses and local owners recover during these uncertain and devastating times, we have put together a series of complimentary resources that can help. Most of them are FREE to take advantage of so that you can rethink, reinvent and rebuild your business; and ultimately, your success! Let us help you – Don’t wait! #customerexperience #smallbusiness #businessmasterytraining #enterprenurs #smallbusinessmarketing #smallbusinessplanning


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