During uncertain times, a business can adapt and keep moving by adequately responding to the changing dynamics of the marketplace. Undoubtedly, market fluctuations and unforeseen circumstances can stimulate change in your customers and influence their buying behaviors.
But businesses that keep customer insights and data on the forefront will be better able to serve their needs and cater to their behaviors more effectively, both now and as we move into a post-pandemic world.
Adapt to changes in consumer behavior
So, what has changed since the beginning of the coronavirus and how has the current climate changed how companies operate and do business?
- Customers are facing cost pressures. Some buyers, with a diminished or removed take-home pay, have less disposable income. Businesses may have fewer lines of credit open to them, making it more difficult to attract and retain customers – particularly if routes to market have been disrupted through the enforced closure of business premises. Nurturing your customer base and providing them with excellent customer service will improve retention rates and drive growth.
- Those that can spend, might not. While spending may not have abruptly halted for some, consumers and businesses may be far more discerning about disposable income while uncertainty is upon them. They will likely become more keenly aware of price versus value, business practices around health and safety, and brand communications. Ensuring you communicate the right information at the right time will be key to building brand loyalty.
- Consumers are shifting the way they buy. Now is the time to adapt. It’s unpredictable how the future will look, but one thing to learn is that for many businesses, online buying and contactless pickup will need to be built into business models. Restaurants, for example, have pivoted to selling produce from their suppliers directly to consumers. This is an example of businesses ably adapting to trends; putting quality produce directly in the hands of consumers, especially when supply chains are being affected where consumers are used to normally obtaining these goods. It may lead to a rise in food education, development of alternative supply lines, and different ideas about what a restaurant is, or should be.
- Competition has intensified. As a result of these changing conditions, adjacent sectors not usually seen as competition may now encroach in different, new spaces. Think about the pivot away from eating out to eating at home as just example, especially how this impacts the supply chain and purchasing habits.
As businesses look to the future, they should learn from the past. As The Lowy Institute noted in a recent publication: “the overall dimension of this loss should be kept in perspective — it is a tiny fraction of the disruption experienced in two world wars during the 20th century.”
Accurate business planning for the new normal
Organizations will have to work smarter and more efficiently for every bit of revenue they generate. The biggest opportunity organizations have is to adapt their business to address the new reality of the market and customers’ amended needs.
Solutions like Sage CRM give businesses instant insight into business and employee performance, facilitating informed business decision-making during the downturn and as we enter the post-recession period. This access to data empowers businesses to quickly pivot their offerings, enabling the resolution of customer service needs with automation.
As the economy reopens, it is not going to be a case of business as usual. Companies will need to facilitate informed decision-making as we enter the post-recession period, including adapting key performance indicators as conditions change. By storing customer data and information in a central knowledgebase, staff can report on critical customer service metrics quickly and easily, enabling them to have more meaningful conversations that lead to increased loyalty and retention.
Faced with fluctuating conditions, previous years’ plans may not pan out to be the best resource for forecasting. Scenario planning layered into sales forecasting should become the ‘new normal’ to accurately capture a large enough spread of possible outcomes to cover future uncertainties.
It will be vital for organizations to utilize technologies that enable real-time, accurate business performance data in the face of uncertainty. As businesses look to make their operations more efficient, train employees on new business practices, and track sales performance data, this technology is what will propel organizations to succeed in the new normal and prepare for any increase in demand or workload that trading conditions present.
This article is a part of our Sage CRM series. Sage CRM extends Sage 50, Sage 100 and Sage 300 with CRM capability for sales, marketing and customer service functions in thousands of business’ around the globe.