Posted by Johan van der Steen on 28 May, 2020
While some businesses and industries, such as delivery, supermarkets, and pharmaceuticals have seen business grow from the coronavirus pandemic, the unfortunate reality is that this isn’t the case for all.
Due to the forced closures of retailers and restaurants in April, the ONS has reported a record drop of 18.1 percent in UK retail sales. Meanwhile, one in four firms still trading have said their turnover has fallen by at least 50 percent since the lockdown started.
Although this situation has made things more challenging, businesses can utilise digital channels to engage with their customers, acquire new customers, and retain them for the upturn. Here are three quick tips about how you can use digital in your business:
1. Bring your business to your customer via digital channels
One of the easy wins for ensuring that your customers are still thinking of your business is to offer your services over video. If you can, let customers engage with you from their living room or home study. As the pandemic changes the way customers and companies act, businesses should embrace this opportunity to expand the ways they interact with customers.
With gyms and fitness studios closures across the UK, many have switched to offering online classes. Some have gone as far as to launch online platforms that offer digital classes, while others have opted to offer the live class experience over existing platforms such as Zoom, Instagram Live, or YouTube Live.
Other sectors that were already on track to switch to digital have ramped up their digital efforts to counteract the coronavirus impact. Telemedicine (the diagnosis and treatment of medical problems over digital channels) was already on the up pre-pandemic, though we’re now seeing an increase in uptake. GPs who are having to self-isolate are using video apps such as Push Doctor and Babylon as a way to diagnose patients, eliminating the need to see them in person.
As the pandemic changes the way customers and companies act, businesses should embrace this opportunity to expand the ways they interact with customers.
2. Utilise digital to adapt to the situation
Many businesses have utilised digital to better adapt to the situation and to help keep their operations moving. The education industry, which is usually more on the traditional side, has embraced digital to offer more classes online. Many universities are planning a hybrid of in-person learning and digital learning, which would include a mix of guided online resources supported by face-to-face teaching.
Blending digital and face-to-face channels is a great way to prepare for lockdown lifting, and can work well to support other industries, such as restaurants.
Insights from China have shown that, as lockdown began to lift, restaurateurs that developed a strong digital presence were able to drive customers to their physical stores. They did this by leveraging new digital customers acquired during lockdown and activating old loyalty program members to push them to visit the newly reopened restaurants.
There is no doubt that restaurants were some of the hardest-hit businesses by the pandemic. Many of them were urged to provide more digital offerings or change to takeaway only in order to stay in business.
Consumer research company, The NPD Group, found that one in ten restaurants in the UK tried food delivery for the first time. Many local restaurants, pubs, and smaller shops were quick to rollout new online solutions to address the lockdown laws.
Blending digital and face-to-face channels is a great way to prepare for lockdown lifting.
Others, like Domino’s Pizza, were quick to introduce COVID-compliant measures to their existing delivery services, such as contactless delivery. This means that customers could still order their favourite pizza through the app as usual, but the food would be delivered safely without any contact with the driver. The option to pay online through the app or the website also helps to ensure there is no contact with the drivers.
In addition, the Domino’s app shows the drivers the most efficient route to take when making deliveries, and it allows managers to keep track of where each driver is, the orders that are coming in, and how to best manage these. This data then helps the business make decisions about the number of staff needed and it shows any necessary adjustments to be made to achieve an even more efficient operation.
Restaurants that already had digital solutions in place, like mobile ordering, have been found to be in a better position when it came to addressing the current crisis. For example, Deliveroo was one of the first to confirm contactless delivery. Not only that, but the business added household items and kitchen products to its offerings to meet demand from the public and create an additional revenue stream.
3. Automate interactions with your customers
Businesses should also look to automate some customer interactions, particularly the more repetitive ones. Many individuals will be looking for quick and easy answers about your services, which may have changed since the pandemic.
For example, brick-and-mortar stores may have switched entirely to online platforms, and might be facing an unmanageable level of online traffic and calls regarding this change. This is where AI technology, like chatbots, can come in handy.
Chatbots effectively take some of the weight off by providing immediate responses to repetitive questions that might be blocking you or your staff from dealing with the more complex queries. This can be especially useful if you’ve noticed a spike in your online traffic (or even calls). Chatbots are a great way to ensure you’re still addressing your customers’ needs, while being freed up to run the rest of the business.
Prioritise digital strategies
Having a mobile or digital solution in place has helped some industries better adapt to the pandemic. For those that didn’t have these in place before COVID-19, now is the time to prioritise digital so that you’re ready to meet customers’ expectations in the upturn and stay ahead of the competition.
For expert advice on how you can best utilise digital to stay ahead, book a free consultation with our team today.
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