Businesses will need to start turning their downtime into opportunities for growth by maintaining their customer base and networks, says Ben Bierman is a managing director at Business Partners Limited. Photo: Supplied
Businesses will need to start turning their downtime into opportunities for growth by maintaining their customer base and networks, says Ben Bierman is a managing director at Business Partners Limited. Photo: Supplied

Business 101: Use business downtime to re-engage your customer base

By Ben Bierman Time of article published Jun 21, 2020

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JOHANNESBURG - With South Africa slowly transitioning through the lockdown levels, businesses across all sectors are going to experience temporary downtime more frequently than ever.

They will need to find new suppliers as the existing chains starts to experience disruptions.

More frequent bouts of inactivity are going to be part of the “new normal” with the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic reshaping the world as we know it.

Businesses will need to start turning their downtime into opportunities for growth by maintaining their customer base and networks.

Here are some priorities to concentrate on when activities grind to a halt:

Communication
Review the way you interact with existing and potential customers. Conduct an audit of all past communications with clients and relook at the messaging and information on your website, newsletters, advertising and direct interactions.
Have a well-crafted client communication policy to adhere to in your interactions.

Clientele
Keep the market uncertainty that the pandemic has created in mind. Some of the regular customers are likely to drop off as the landscape shifts, which is why it is vital to make a lists of those you cannot afford to lose.
Work on messaging and strategies to ensure that these customers keep coming back.

Outreach
Be proactive in maintaining existing relationships while building new ones. Remember that no news is bad news, and customers who do not hear from you are likely to lose interest.
Send personalised emails or messages without pressurising them. Do what you can to learn more about their situation and offer to help wherever possible. Take interest and treat them as valued relationships.
Short and friendly newsletters may just be what your customers need in order to know that you are still able to meet their needs as you adapt to the new normal.

Feedback
Find a new way to do business as customers needs are also likely to change considerably. Ensure your operational decisions and changes take their feedback into account.
Engage your management teams to find out what they have learned from their interactions with customers. Talk about what their situations are and their reactions to operational changes. Put the feedback to paper and look at how you can accommodate their needs.

Value
Accommodating clients may get complicated but finding ways around their challenges and needs will put your business ahead of the competition. Consider cutting some costs. Offer future services or projects and new ways of service to make their challenges a little easier.
That way you can keep your business moving and expand your ability to potentially gain the interest of a new customer base.

Ben Bierman is a managing director at Business Partners Limited. 

BUSINESS REPORT 

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