It has been said that customer feedback (or word of mouth advertising) can make or break a business. What current customers say about a business can be the deciding factor in whether potential new customers choose it or someone else for their product or service needs. COVID-19 has only increased the demand for businesses to consider customer feedback. Just as no one could have predicted this year’s events, no one knows precisely what a post-COVID business world will look like. One thing we can count on, however, is that change will take place. The longer the pandemic lasts, the more shifts we will see in consumer behavior, product demand, customer relationships, and priorities. Changes in how businesses operate have continued to evolve over the past several months. Now is the time to react to consumer behavior, gather all of the data that could help determine the appropriate steps to recovery, and ensure that the current customer experience is ready and suited to what post-COVID-19 operations might look like. Below are some ways that businesses can utilize customer feedback to prepare their business for operations after COVID.

Evolve Business with Customer Needs

For a business to evolve, they must find out what has changed for their customers. There can be no doubt that COVID has forced all businesses to change in some way, whether it is how they interact with their customers, what they deem necessary, or how they spend their budgets. Businesses cannot come out of this situation believing that the same “pre-COVID” rules still apply. Customers have changed, and therefore businesses will need to change with them. Now is the time for companies to go back to the drawing board and reevaluate who their customers really are. Businesses who can access adequate insight can use it to adapt their customer experience, better support customers during the pandemic, and make the changes they need to strengthen the business-customer relationship moving forward.

Businesses should carefully examine their customer communication both now and from before COVID to look for changes in reactions, product sales, service needs, and any other alterations in “normal” business operations. Customer feedback can provide answers to many questions. Collecting feedback at every stage of the customer interaction with a business can help identify where customer needs are and are not being met. It can also provide detailed information on what changes need to be made around customer support, the customer experience, and what steps can be taken to build stronger customer relationships that will endure after the pandemic has run its course.

Provide the Human Connection Customers Need

The last several months have been challenging for everyone. A general sense of nervousness around the pandemic has encouraged many to reach out to family and friends for support. Interestingly, consumers have also reached out to the businesses they deal with for a human and emotional connection as well. As companies step away from physical storefronts in exchange for digital sales environments, it has become increasingly essential to ensure online connections are as meaningful and personal as they would be in a face-to-face setting. Many consumers are more likely to remain loyal to brands that find a way to successfully demonstrate humanity during these difficult times.

Businesses must learn to adapt to connect with their customers on a more personal level in a digital setting. Without using technology such as SEO and customer comment sections on business websites to receive feedback from customers early on, brands risk losing customers to competitors they feel stronger connections with or who are answering their questions and responding to their needs. If SEO is something new to a business, using the services of a professional marketing and website design company like Bianca Frank Design in Anchorage, Alaska, can be highly beneficial to helping business owners understand their customer behaviors, customer needs, and any changes they may want to make in the future to maintain customer satisfaction.

Keep Business Values at the Core of Operations

Businesses need to remain true to their brand. These times of crisis have brought about a more significant sense of community responsibility from both consumer and business perspectives. Make no mistake; consumers are watching and considering how brands are acting and reacting to the pandemic. It is essential for businesses to communicate with customers about how they are dealing with the current situation in terms of safety and even community involvement. It is also a good idea to continue asking customers what is important to them now and on the other side of the pandemic. Collecting this feedback will help strengthen customer relationships, let customers know their opinions matter, and allow a new stream of ethically aware customers to discover the business brand through the message that remains at the core of the business brand.

Never Forget the Well-being of Employees

It is easy to say that businesses have likely never been quite as aware of their staff’s health and wellbeing as they are right now, and customers have the same concerns. Many consumers feel that brands need to do everything they can to protect their employees, even if it means suffering financial losses due to closures. Keeping employees’ wellbeing at the forefront of business operations isn’t just beneficial for their own health, but it can help prepare the business for the future customer experience. If staff members feel safe, happy, and listened to, they are in the best possible position to keep the industry wheels turning, whether that means answering questions from customers or keeping the business website up and running. Employees who do not feel “cared for” by their employer are likely to vocalize their concerns. This will inevitably trickle down to customers who may be concerned about how the brand is addressing health and safety measures.

Businesses should also use positive customer reviews to keep staff morale high. A company should never underestimate the effect that positive customer feedback can have on staff morale, especially when people are working under higher pressure and reduced workforce situations. Sharing positive feedback and praise from happy customers who have been positively impacted by the work of one or more team members can work wonders for job satisfaction and wellbeing.

Look at Recovery from a Positive Angle

The ideas of positivity and crisis do not often fit together well. However, it could be beneficial for businesses to take a proactive approach to their recovery plan. This can put them in a good state for the future, post-COVID. The pandemic has caused disruptions in business that have forced business owners to step away from day-to-day routines and examine every part of their business. This is an opportunity that is not often afforded in the business world. During these times, customer service and business operation issues will become more apparent than ever before. Businesses can benefit significantly by using this time to take stock of everything from the processes they have in place, their team’s skills, and the depth of their customer base.

Many businesses have learned the value of keeping business operations and goals flexible and agile. Now is the best time to use existing marketing analytics to examine how customers are feeling and behaving. If a business doesn’t have access to analytics or SEO, it is essential to get these in place right away! The design professionals at Bianca Frank Design in Anchorage, Alaska, can assist with updated site design and SEO and data analytics. Allowing a professional to help examine these statistics and provide detailed information about the next best steps derived from customer feedback can take excess stress off business owners and corporate marketing departments. Using this customer insight can help in the short term during the pandemic, but it is essential to keep asking for it as times and business environments change. Having the ability to collect customer feedback can help businesses adapt to consumer expectations.