This past year offered one challenge after another as businesses struggled to stay afloat during a global pandemic that shrunk profits and forced consumers to stay away. For some businesses, things are returning to normal, while, for others, major transitions await as they continue the struggle. Trying to keep customers during these times of change is particularly challenging but essential since it costs 5 times more to attract new customers to replace customers who leave. Hence, managing change is a significant task regardless of what type of change you must implement.
Today we’ll discuss how to keep your customers through various types of change including:
- Moving to a new location
- Changing your brand name or rebranding
- Transitioning from long-time employees or management
- Implementing a new delivery system
Keeping your customers during change
Moving to a new location
A variety of factors conspired to force many businesses to move to a new location as they attempt recovery from the pandemic. For instance, maybe your existing location lost one or more of its anchor stores, thus reducing foot traffic to your retail space. Or, maybe a new competitor moved nearby to challenge your opportunities. Or, maybe your business doesn’t require as much space as pre-pandemic as some workers continue working from home over the long run.
Whatever the reason, moving to a new location offers unique challenges for your business. Here are some strategies to survive that move more effectively.
Engage the services of a moving company
Moving an entire workplace is a difficult undertaking, especially when you have a large amount of equipment and furniture, as well as all of the tiny things to consider. That is why you need to hire a reputable moving company possessing the necessary experience to handle the task of packing and moving you across the street or across the country. You should look for movers who are dependable and skilled, such as MyBekins.com . Check out their reviews and get a firm estimate of your moving expenses to avoid surprises.
Remember a number of people need to know about your pending move and what arrangements were made to ease the transition. Not only do customers need to know about your move, but you must notify vendors, creditors, and other stakeholders well in advance. This may sound easy but I once worked with an enterprise organization to handle the many tiny efforts needed to accomplish this, including updating social media contact information, which seems weird since that’s a digital strategy.
Also, moving often involves some downtime, even if it’s only a few hours. Notify folks ahead of time for any period when they might encounter a response lag. Give yourself enough time to effectively complete the move so your customers don’t attempt to reach you and get no response. You might even arrange for some customer-focused employees to stagger their move so that someone is always available to answer the phones and respond on digital platforms.
Changing your brand name or rebrandingRebranding is a marketing strategy that involves changing a company’s corporate image or organization by developing a new name, symbol, logo, and related visual assets like marketing materials. The goal of rebranding is to create a new and differentiated brand identity in the minds of consumers, investors, prospects, competitors, employees, and the general public. [source]
Rebranding, whether you’re just changing your logo, your brand name, or changing major elements of your brand image, is challenging. For instance, when Starbucks changed its logo, it faced a tremendous backlash from loyal customers. Yet, they made the transition because they assessed the future value outweighed the conflict.
Rebranding is risky but sometimes it’s the best option, especially when your brand is linked with values no longer aligned with customers, you moved into a global space, or you want to move past some unpleasant publicity (although this rarely works and can make your problems worse).
As you work through your rebranding efforts, communication and transparency are vital. Even a simple name change can involve a massive undertaking. For instance, when working with the enterprise brand mentioned earlier, we found listing across their last 3 name changes, old addresses for locations in various cities, and statements of vision, mission, and values varied across listings on various social and other digital platforms. Remember, in the digital age, you no longer control all the places where your brand is mentioned. Finding as many of these as possible, then reaching out to the website owners with updated information is critical for a successful rebranding effort.
Transitioning from long-term employees or management
Employees are your biggest asset yet you must transition to new employees when existing employees retire or leave the company. Often, customers develop a strong relationship with your staff, especially in service businesses when loyalty may rest with the employee rather than the brand. When an employee leaves, you may face a rash of customer exits as they follow the employee to their new work home. You can ease the transition when you lose a beloved employee by communicating with customers before the transition with plans to serve them after the transition. You might invite them to meet your replacement employees to ensure they’re comfortable with the transition.
Losing key employees also impacts other staff. Ensure a smooth transition by allowing an overlap for the existing employee to train the new employee and for other employees to get to know the new hire. Involving your staff in selecting the new employee also helps with the transition.
Implementing a new system
Many businesses had to pivot quickly to accommodate changes wrought by the pandemic. For many, this meant transitioning to contactless delivery and pick-up. Abruptly changing these policies can have a negative impact on new customers gained during the pandemic. For instance, one of the new restaurants I discovered quickly stopped the option for take away even as the number of infections climbed as new variants gained traction. I found this unacceptable and will only consider patronizing them again when I have the time for a leisurely meal in the restaurant, which isn’t often.
For those making the quick pivot, now is the time to refine the systems put in place almost overnight. For instance, you might need to update your website, turning it into a full e-commerce site rather than forcing customers to call in orders. For creatives who pivoted to online performances and trainers who moved classes online, it’s time to consider how to make these delivery options better and to incorporate them with face-to-face options to supplement those options. For instance, our university transitioned to holding classes via Zoom when it was unsafe to have students on campus in close quarters. We now offer classes to a geographically dispersed group of students using Zoom to broaden our student body.
Keeping your customers happy, informed, and satisfied while you make needed changes to your business model isn’t easy but sometimes it’s necessary. I hope you find these tips helpful as you move your brand forward.
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