Communicating changes throughout the buyer’s journey during hard time
The virus COVID-19 has been a never-before-seen situation. The state of alarm for the management of the health crisis and social responsibility keeps us all confined at home for an undetermined time. Besides industries, the virus has affected the e-commerce business, for both the buyers and sellers.
The global economy is still unknown with the result, but the scenario managed by different economic and financial agents is not encouraging. Also we may face another disaster and critical moment.
It is not the first time that changes in purchasing behaviour based on environmental, economic or sociological factors have had a definitive impact on future purchasing behaviours. Honestly, many people have faced such cases on the local level. The disastrous flooding, hurricanes, snow storms, man-made disasters have affected cities, towns, states and individual countries. There is one difference, COVID has a global impact. Also many people today naively believe that we all get back. But COVID is our new reality.
Anyway, the ecommerce companies and online businesses need to adapt to any situation, because it is all about customers and business success.
Awareness and digital transform
Faced with this situation, many entrepreneurs see e-commerce as the only way out to avoid the debacle of their finances, even an opportunity to continue boosting their growth. One of the possible speculated scenarios suggests that consumers convert their physical purchases to the online store. And the truth is that it is already an actual reality because restrictions on mobility are motivating a boom in the online supply of many product categories.
And although online shopping has initially shifted to necessities such as food or health, we all can see that the increase in free time and comfort will end up producing an increase in online shopping in other sectors. The first to benefit are online services and video game downloads, followed by other goods also linked to leisure, such as physical games, toys or books, etc.
And if the situation is prolonged, other sectors, including B2B, will also see how their sites increase their sales, as long as the consumer can overcome their feeling of stress and anxiety in the face of this crisis.
Business owners must invest in UX design services to update the online-purchasing experience to reflect changes and effectively communicate them to customers.
Tell the customers the real situation
COVID as any disaster created several obstacles that the desirable e-commerce drive has to overcome in the face of this crisis: problems in the supply chain, logistics service and delivery times, price increase, etc. These problems are directly related to customer satisfaction. You don’t want your customers to spend valuable time shopping on your site only to find out at the very end an unpleasant surprise. Their order may not be delivered or a price was changed. Such an experience is frustrating, diminishes trust in the brand, and most often results in lost customers.
It’s not just about COVID. If your company faces some troubles (a flash flood, hurricane, accident), let your customers know your situation. In most cases people will understand your situation and appreciate your kind concern.
Make these messages about your situation easily discoverable on relevant pages throughout the site so users can see them up front. Avoid using pop-ups. One common design pattern for communicating sitewide messaging is through the addition of a banner message at the top of the page. To effectively draw the user’s attention, these important announcements must have visual weight and should look like a priority element that stands out from the other page elements. Visual weight can be achieved through many visual-design techniques, by playing with attributes such as color, brightness, contrast, size, and spacing. Avoid using colors from a color palette of your site. Practice demonstrates that the banner which was blended in with the site’s visual style looks like a decorative element of a page. So, many users may ignore the banner.
But it’s always possible that users still ignore banners at the top of pages. When users redirect to your site they are task-focused, so their attention often goes to relevant page elements. For these reasons, it’s important to include important information on the menu, contact page, shopping-cart or during checkout. If users missed the message upfront, they will still be alerted before checking out.
You must share crucial information
There has been a rise in demand for specific products. As a result, businesses face many problems. So businesses need to solve a lot of issues. Along with it, businesses must let the consumers know the latest news on the situation. For example, you need to inform customers about changes in government and regional regulations which may affect the terms of delivery.
It is not the only action that has been taken to try to redirect the sale to digital channels. Or it shouldn’t be. In an unusual situation like the one we live in, brands must find a way to show their empathy with their customers, remember their values and make them feel close. The goal for retail in these challenging times should not be to sell; they should be others: remember their social responsibility, support their reputation, promote loyalty and build loyalty. In times like this, never before experienced, brands must work to be recognized. And digital marketing offers the best channels to spread the right messages to remember.
You can build your content marketing around a situation. You need to be creative to share additional information with visitors.
It is essential to offer messages of confidence and convey your values and commitment to the situation we all live in now. Let your customers know that they are the most important thing for you and that due to responsibility towards everyone, the physical stores will remain closed but not your website, where you wait for them with surprises. Make your audience feel that you share their fears and that you are thereby their side, issue messages that generate empathy and emotional bonding –
- For you and you – always by your side because together we are more,
- Together we will overcome it. Because we don’t know what we’re capable of until we do it. We can with this and with much more,
- It is a time of uncertainty, but also an opportunity to appreciate the value of being together,
- Now in the distance, it’s time to be more together than ever,
- By your side for whatever you need,
- Together we take care of you,
- In this exceptional situation, we remain by your side.
Communicate your concern and commitment to the situation
Critical moments are a great time to implement new ideas. Use every news opportunity to strengthen your branding through appropriate measures.
Share how you have intensified communications with the delivery network so that you comply with hygiene measures when delivering shipments. Also, share the hygiene measures that your team takes and the flexibility of the days that you have agreed.
Take that time to achieve a new level in your relationship with clients.
If you have the opportunities, then share activities virtually. You can decide to collaborate with coaches to offer personal training, or with other types of professionals to provide talks or other activities depending on what arouses the most interest in your audience. You can also make Lives or direct on networks like Instagram, sharing daily anecdotes lived by your brand or suggestions to entertain the time. All these actions will enhance the union with your clients in these difficult moments.
Due to social-distancing regulations, many retail stores or B2B companies are not able to welcome customers in the building during this time. However, some of these companies are still able to fulfill orders for curbside pickup.
Because contactless curbside pickup is a new and somewhat unfamiliar service offered during this pandemic, companies should advertise and explain it to all site visitors. Since this service may help customers get products sooner, it can influence the likelihood to purchase. Curbside pickup should be advertised on the homepage to inform visitors of its availability and set basic expectations early on. Detailed instructions should be saved for customers who choose this service.
As you can see, pandemic problems force companies to seek other alternative ways to provide their services. If you think about your customers, you will find a lot of ways to help them.
Also we recommend to use transactional emails related to orders of products and services. Ensure critical changes are communicated and provide explicit instructions for any additional steps. Focus on design of emails that helps clients to focus on important things.
Your staff should revisit all order-related emails (not just order confirmations and store-pickup emails) to ensure they reflect relevant changes to operations. For example, if a customer purchased an item that included installation, update communications to explain what precautions and procedures will be followed to maintain the safety.
Focus on the customer experience
At this time, you need to go the extra mile to make a positive impression on consumers. Providing them with facilities and helping them with problems that may arise in the interaction with your online platform is essential. Encourage and improve the conversation within your online store with your customers. Enable Live Chats, contact numbers and email addresses visibly so that they can communicate with you in any way and at any time. Now they have time, and your brand must reach out and connect with them.
Right now, so many online retailers are communicating some type of change to their normal processes due to Covid-19 that the lack of any messaging is actually strange.
Communicate any delay in delivery that may arise or any other stock difficulties. Likewise, show that you are willing to be flexible by readjusting your policies in this exceptional situation. Shipping is not always a straightforward process, but solutions must be sought and delays avoided as much as possible by reinforcing the logistics service or looking for alternative delivery networks. Communicate with the transport companies with which you operate. It must support the procedures in the delivery of orders to ensure the safety of their employees and customers.
Create links with your customers through your social networks
The unique benefit of social media marketing for business is that it allows you to talk directly to customers and followers. Social media can help you to humanize your brand. Also, a lot of people prefer to receive information from social media.
What are you going to talk about? What will you share with your audience? You should create a “crisis social media marketing plan” to communicate with your audience.
You have to be responsible if you are going to talk about the COVID-19 virus or another disaster, always make sure you have the information from a reliable source. We must not increase fear, and positive and encouraging messages are well received. What happens to you, it is possible that also to them. We all face this together. If we have good communication, we can get the empathy of our customers, being incredibly important to communicate any problems that may arise and how your business plans to deal with them.
Inform the buyers what you are doing to prevent the spread of the virus. If you sell necessities, and you are still operating: email your customers and post signs in your store to assure them that you are doing everything possible to protect their health when they visit your store. Share cleaning, disinfection and hygiene protocols that you are following. If you are altering your hours of operation or closing your store for deep cleaning, you should also inform your customers.
Anyway, it is a good opportunity to do something new to improve your business.
Emergencies like natural disasters and the COVID-19 pandemic can catch us all off guard. Nobody knows the right way to react in that situation to deliver communications about service changes appropriately across all possible touchpoints.
That is why you must keep a cool head. It allows you to see the possibilities of a new reality.
Next step, create a customer-journey map. This map will help you to adjust it to reflect the new experience and use it as a tool to identify key moments to communicate changes, then refine the communication methods. If you use a customer-journey map, it will help you to implement changes faster.
Contact professional UI/UX designers to create changes for your website. It requires a lot of efforts from you and your staff. It is vital to generate ideas that can help your business to achieve goals. Possibly it makes sense to move to CMS that allows you to implement changes at low cost. Anyway you should think about reducing costs.
We live in a time marked by climate change caused by global warming, social protests, local conflicts, and geopolitical risks. Consider outlining an emergency-response strategy in order to move quickly and confidently in future emergencies.