Customer retention in times of crisis: the main challenges and where to start

The retention theme has never been more evident than it is now and, regardless of the position you occupy in your company, the concern with keeping customers will reach you

The challenges faced by companies since the beginning of quarantine, in March 2020, are countless. Closed physical stores, employees’ situation, contracts with suppliers, taxes, fixed costs and much more.

Currently, many companies are entering a second phase of the situation, varying by region and segment. However, most of them are trying to establish a new way to resume their activities little by little, trying to keep up with the “new normal”. In addition, we recently launched the study Panorama PMEs: the impacts of Covid-19 and steps towards recovery, a partnership between RD, Endeavor Brasil and Pequenas Empresas Grandes Negócios, in which we seek to understand the impact generated for small and medium-sized companies in Brazil.

In times of crisis, we tend to look deeper into ourselves and our surroundings. It’s as if they took off our Band-Aid and started to face challenges that didn’t seem so evident until then.

It is natural that, at first, we feel powerless, frustrated and even paralyzed by the impossibility of solving everything that was impacted at once.

After this first reality check, we started to react. At this point, our ability to resolve is sharpened, our brain requires us to be practical, quick and firm in decisions.

According to Daniel Castello, lecturer and consultant in the areas of Strategy, Innovation and Leadership, “to be successful in the crisis and go through it in a healthy way, we have to have some specific skills:  analytical capacity, immunity and agility .”

Why look for retention now and forever?

In a context of crisis, when sales are down, looking at customer retention is essential. Not only for the company’s survival but also as a way to reinforce the commitment and partnership between your company and its customers.

Maintaining the relationship with customers and ensuring that your company is doing its best to support them, also during this period, can be a way to reduce the herd effect of crises.

Retention is not just an industry, a position. Customer retention is the responsibility of the entire company, before (Marketing), during (Sales, Service, Finance) and after-sales  (Service, Support, Customer Success, Finance, etc.).

The operation and positions dedicated to acting with retention may vary according to the business model, but if your company depends on recurring or repurchase income, being aware of retention is essential.

According to the Sebrae Panel of Companies, Brazil currently has 19,209,508 registered companies, a ranking led by the service and trade segments.  In other words, directly or indirectly most companies, whether physical or online, are within this group.

Role of Customer Success in times of crisis

The Customer Success area is responsible for customer service after the sale, usually made up of Implementation, Service, Support teams, among others.

Always focused on retention through strategic and proactive service, her main role at this time is to use the knowledge she has to explore and share best practices with each other. Thus, bringing ways to help customers with the challenges they face, adapting what had been initially planned during the purchase.

At Resultados Digitais, we have an area with about 150 professionals to serve clients and partner agencies. Exploring our structure and knowledge exchange relationship is part of our culture, but with the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, these spaces were intensified.

The larger the team or teams, the greater the challenges. Therefore, our teams of CS Enablement and  CS Operations work together in this mission, providing support for teams of care. See some examples of actions taken and that can be adapted to your reality: 

  • Online forums called Office Hours are held recurrently for the Customer Service teams, where we address: training, Q&A, feedback and exchange of experiences about the moment.
  • Creation of a Covid-19 Guidance Guide, a living document that is fed by employees to consult whenever necessary. Examples of topics covered in this guide:
    • Company directions;
    • Strategies;
    • Process reminders;
    • Free tools;
    • Market Perspectives after Covid-19, among others.
  • Establish an approval framework and a new format for requests that are outside the current commercial policy, with a careful look at customers from segments directly or indirectly affected and also at potential opportunities. Example: a document or presentation that explains criteria, authority levels and approval scales for financial exceptions.
  • Ensure that you and your team are on the same page regarding what can and cannot be done, if necessary, hold meetings of up to 15 minutes daily for updates.

Safely giving autonomy to your Customer Service team and having space for recurring feedbacks is essential to give quality to customer requests. As this is a new process, it is possible that there are errors in the execution at first.

Therefore, closely monitor these frictions to minimize them. In short: do, listen, analyze, adjust, replicate!

In parallel, look for opportunities! According to a survey released by Konduto and ABCOMM on e-commerce numbers during the pandemic, segments such as supermarkets, delivery in general, toys, online games, sporting goods and pharmacy had exponential growth in this period.

If your company serves customers from these segments, help them to grow, as the challenges are also great for those who are scaling up the operation so abruptly. Or, still, assess if you have the capacity to serve them in any way and focus your capture on this audience as well.

A strategic look: just as important as retaining financial income is establishing a customer support point

What new actions can be taken to help your client through the crisis?

The purpose and values ​​of your company must be present at all points of contact with your general public and customers: Communication, Marketing, Customer Service, Sales, Support, etc.

This is the time to reinforce them, to make clear the role of your company in the environment in which it operates and what is the organization’s position in relation to the crisis.

According to Endeavor, a global organization that promotes entrepreneurship, in times like this we have the responsibility – and the challenge – to act as true examples for the country.

Launching new marketing strategies: is it time?

Without a doubt, as long as they have a connection with your client’s moment and pain. If a marketing plan for the year already exists, it can be adapted to address the most latent problem.

Dialogue with your customers as they will remember their role during the crisis. Also, depending on how these interactions are established, these actions can bring new business or new customers, as people connect with what they admire.

Here at RD, we created an exclusive page for times of crisis, #FortalecerParaCrescer. It brings content, tools, courses and materials that can help you execute your company’s marketing plan.

There’s only one thing that doesn’t work at all in a crisis: keep doing what you were doing before the crisis. In a crisis, you have to do it differently. You have to innovate.

Daniel Castello

Had nothing planned?

Think of actions within your budget that allow you to communicate your position. Your company can also be successful with Digital Marketing strategies like so many others.

Inbound Marketing is 62% cheaper than conventional marketing. In addition, you can count on complete tools for your strategy, such as RD Station Marketing and RD  Station  CRM, as well as an entire service structure, technical and strategic support. These are factors that make all the difference for those who don’t know where to start! 

If you’re still waiting for things to get back to “normal”, you’re wasting time and opportunities.  The time to react is essential and this moment is ideal to foster the strengthening of partnerships. It’s time to strengthen your business in the face of the new scenario and resume growth in a new way.

And then? Ready to face these challenges and change the game? Share your insights with us and count on Digital Results on this journey!