Ep 3: Keeping Customers Happy Through Tough Times

Keeping them happy is your No 1 priority but the new challenge is that their buying behaviour has just dramatically shifted. Ed and I talk through what you can do to make sure the 'shift' is to your advantage.

In today's episode, Ed and Jed discuss:

  • The NEW customer behaviour
  • How you should communicate with your customers so they keep coming back to you
  • Why going 'above and beyond' will secure your business's future

Plus, we've packed this podcast with examples, case studies and practical advice to help you stay successful and keep your customers loving what you do.

Subscribe and enjoy!


The following transcription has been largely automated by Otter.AI so please accept our apologies if there's the occasional error.

Jed Wylie  0:20  
Hello and welcome to Mindset Marketing Money, Episode 3, with me Jed Wylie, marketing consultant at digitalROAR and my good buddy and co-host Mr Ed Marshall (chartered financial planner). Hey Ed, how are you doing?

Ed Marshall  0:25  
Hey Jed. Great to be back on the podcast with you. Really good to see you, buddy.

Jed Wylie  0:30  
Good to see you too. And you've upped the ante with some really, very cool. Microphone technology and now I feel I feel like the poor man's podcast over here with my headset that makes me look like Madonna.

Ed Marshall  0:41  
We want to make sure we're getting the best quality for everyone that's listening in, and we got some great content today

Jed Wylie  0:47  
We are going to be talking about how you can keep your customer during tough times. And boy, have we seen some tough times recently. I mean, just out of the clear blue sky suddenly the whole world has been plunged into economic chaos, and a medical disaster, the likes of which we've not seen in our lifetime. And so yes these are definitely tough times. So, we've got to hang on to our customers. We've got to look after them. And we've got to try and attract more and more customers in an increasingly challenging environment. 

Ed Marshall  1:25  
As we said before, are you going to thrive, or are you only going to survive? Well, this is all about thriving right as we said last week. It's about coming out of this situation that has been imposed upon us with a bigger market share than you had on the way in.

Jed Wylie  1:39  
Absolutely. And customers are central to everything you do, aren't they, when you run a business, it's all about you, it's why you have a business. And you know it's important for us to be able to see the current circumstances through their eyes to get a sense of, of what it looks like from their perspective.

Ed Marshall  2:03  
And every business is different and although it's an obvious thing to say, you can be in a sector, with many other businesses with huge amounts of competition but there are always going to be elements that should be making your business unique and therefore, perhaps those elements that actually make your clients unique to you, as well, maybe it's your values within your business, what it is that got you into business, the way you communicate with your clients; but you're naturally going to attract a certain type of client and hopefully as a business, you've already defined, who your ideal client actually is. And that's not just from a financial perspective, this is the kind of client that can afford to or want to buy our goods or services, but it's also the type of client from a personality perspective, that makes your ideal client as well. So, you've got that pitch out. You've got to figure out how your ideal client is viewing the world at the moment; you've got to see things from their perspective.

Jed Wylie  3:01  
Yeah, absolutely. It's changed considerably hasn't it, because now we're entering a sort of post-COVID-19 world – well not quite post-COVID because it's still with us but perhaps an inter-COVID…

Ed Marshall  3:13  
Inter-COVID because we're looking towards what the new normal is going to look like yet and everybody keeps bandying around this phrase ‘the new normal’ but the new normal isn't a constant. You know, we've already had more technological change and increase in productivity and capability with businesses over the last three months than we've seen in the last few years, as some businesses have really pivoted. And adapted in order to be able to deal with the current circumstances and off the back of that they are going to be the ones that are thinking right well this new normal is a constantly changing future. But actually, what's different because successful businesses are always looking at the constantly changing future, figuring about how they adapt so they can always remain relevant and they're the ones that are equipped, but if that's not been you in the past, that doesn't stop you from being that in the future.

Jed Wylie  4:01  
Yeah, absolutely. And you know we've got different ‘normals’ for every business, you know, we have seen things like dance studios taking their lessons online. We've seen restaurants augmenting their income with home delivery and mobile stands. Theatres have started streaming content, taxi services have become delivery services, breweries, transforming their distilleries into hand sanitizer production lines, 3d printing companies producing PPE and the list goes on and on. 

Ed Marshall  4:38  
A great example is a gym. Obviously, unable to hold its classes within the building and unable to allow people to come in and to use the equipment. So what do they do in order to keep their fees rolling in? They make sure that they divvy the equipment up amongst their members, they hold regular classes online as well as regular one to one classes as well with people so all within their homes, their equipment isn't in the gym, their equipment is in that client’s houses, which means that they're still earning their fees and doing everything, virtually. I mean, that is a business that's been dynamic and the love that their clients are showing for them right now for supporting them through this time, but helping them to stay on top of their fitness goals. Yeah, they had a lot of loyal clients before they have got loyal clients for life now because they've been with them every step of the way. And as we said last week. It's communication as well, isn't it?

Jed Wylie  5:34  
Yeah, communication is central to all of this because what we're, what we're seeing here, what businesses are needing to recognise, is that customers are thinking and behaving in different ways. And part of the communication stream is to actually understand how they are thinking and behaving differently because we've, we've moved into a situation now where customers will think about doing the things that they took for granted, slightly differently. They may be more hesitant; they might need more reassurance. They may have more fear mixed up in their decision-making process. I mean, as we talked about last week actually fear has been a component in life, in human existence, like forever. But this type of fear is something that's new and it's what it's done is it's divided the population into those people that are risk-averse, and those people that are risk-tolerant of the circumstances. And so, the threshold is now quite high because there is a lot of fear around because it's a very serious situation so you might find it as a proportion of the population who are naturally risk-averse, who find that that threshold is now too high for them. No, they don't want to go to the shops anymore, they don't want to go to gyms, they don't want to go to the swimming pools because they're fearful of the consequences of that. Equally, you have another contingent in society that is entirely risk-tolerant and the threshold of concern that is out there at the moment may not be high enough for them, them to change their behaviours, and they would quite happily, go to the shops, the swimming pool, mix with people, it doesn't affect them. What we don't know is what the proportions are at the moment and they will always change because each individual's sense of where that threshold is alters according to how the circumstances around them are changing as well.

Ed Marshall  7:46  
100%, yeah. And if you're looking at your business and again going back to your ideal clients, which may be different to other businesses and actually think about, well, you know are my clients made up of those that are going to be more cautious or more risk tolerance and if I've got interaction where I've got clients coming to me, customers coming to my premises, how do I make sure that those that I'm trying to encourage to come in and say ‘hey look we're keeping you safe, we take this very seriously -we've taken all the precautions that we can’ how do we make sure that those that are more risk-tolerant suddenly make those that are more cautious feel uncomfortable. Yes, it all comes back to how you communicate with your customers about what you're doing to keep them safe. Yeah, and how you do that, you know, it's Dale Carnegie says this is all about trying to see the world from the other person's point of view, and understand what it is that is driving their behaviour.

Jed Wylie  8:59  
Absolutely. And part of that is that recognition that you are being sensitive to the market. So, we know that there are certain cohorts within society that are probably naturally going to be more risk-averse the older generation, for example, people who are vulnerable all these may be more cautious and so it then becomes incumbent on the business to recognise that and communicate accordingly. With those people as you say, to reassure them that what you are doing is actually not going to place them at any undue risk. And in a sense what you're doing in that communication is you are reducing the threshold for them you're saying it's okay, here are the reasons why it's okay. In this regard, COVID-19 become another buying objection that people need to overcome in order to buy from businesses. You know, we have the classic objections of it's too expensive or it's the wrong colour, it's not suitable for me. These are things which salespeople naturally deal with in their environment because they know how to handle the objections that are presented to them in relation to the product or service that they're selling. Now we've got this other one, you know, and that is, ‘how do you keep me safe’. And that's where focusing on how we're going to do that is a means by which we can then overcome that objection and dissolve that objection so that the customer feels safe in buying from us. 

Ed Marshall  10:45  
And that's assuming that you've got a physical space that people are actually coming into, and so yeah to communicate with your customers to say it's okay, we've got your back. We're taking this seriously. Your safety is our paramount concern - that will give people confidence in order to do that, but of course, it may be that you're a business that's already adapted to a more virtual world. It may be that you are a business that has been able to continue trading throughout because you've changed the way that you do business. And so then you've got to figure out, well what is it my clients want now? Are some of those clients actually going to want to be going back to the old way of doing things, or are some of them actually enjoying the new way of doing things? And what have I done to actually attract competitors’ customers over to me during this time as well? Don't just go back to doing things how they were done before. Because if you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always got. You've learned a lot. you've adapted and so look at all those positives that you can take forward, but also figure out from your customers what it is that they loved about the old way of doing things, as well, that you want to bring back, and then you're really going to be getting the best of both worlds because client’s expectations are changing. There are so many people that used to shop in person in a supermarket who are never going to set foot back in a supermarket again, even when they're told it's safe to do so. There are plenty of people who are not going to walk back into DIY stores because they're simply they're going to be clicking and collecting or going online to have delivery. So, behaviour, our shopping patterns and behaviours have already changed. Take-outs instead of eating in a restaurant, how many people will want to go back to the restaurant for that social experience, and how many people will enjoy actually continue to get the takeout experience because their favourite restaurant brings their favourite dish to their home.

Jed Wylie  12:33  
Yeah, we are naturally communal animals. And, you know, we like to get together and there are some businesses, I think, which are completely predicated on that, you know, so anybody that's running a music event, for example, is running that event on the basis that people can stand in close proximity with each other, and enjoy what's on offer. Now, as a business model then becomes treacherous in the current environment. Because you can't do it, you physically can't do it. Now you might say well is my population going to be made up entirely of people who are totally risk-averse but then there are questions about whether that's actually appropriate or not. It is so tricky because of the breadth of different types of business that are out there and the way in which they engage with customers. There is this ebb and flow between the old and the new way. And some businesses will be able to make that transition. The others simply can't because of the nature of what they do, I mean I've got one of my customers who is a large camping and caravan site down in North Devon. And one of the challenges that they're facing at the moment is not just the confidence of their customer base and telling them how they are going to keep them safe in that particular environment which is naturally communal. But there's also the wider community because that caravan park attracts enough people to fill the town next to it and to fill the beach, as well. And you've got local residents who are saying, well, maybe we don't want this sudden influx of people from, you know, London, which has had you know three times higher cases than anywhere else in the country.

Ed Marshall  14:32  
Suddenly you're importing risk to a local community. And that local community. Well, they see the jobs, but they also see the risk as well. And this is about getting the much bigger question of how do you get the economy firing back up again whilst telling people that they're safe now without getting political about this. What you need is a consistent message, and you need a consistent message from the scientists and from the government, but as a business, you need to be giving a consistent message directly to your customers and if necessary to your to the local community in which you're based as well. 

Jed Wylie  15:13  
And, you know, an interesting example of that is, you know, I've been receiving emails from the CEO of Morrison's not personally I don't think he's emailed me personally. I think he may have sent it to a few more people too, but I've never heard from him before. Interesting that this is so significant he saw the need to communicate about this and, and how they were approaching the problem, but the CEO is writing emails out to people and so that's a good lead for any business to take, to increase communication to use email as a means to overcome that buying objection to explain to them the different, new ways in which the business has reacted and how the customer can interact with them. As you said if it's not physical then what can be done digitally, or remotely to provide them with the same product or service.

Ed Marshall  16:27  
You are facing unprecedented times in terms of whether your business can even survive let's say you're in a music environment, let's say you're organising concerts, festivals, whatever it might be. Obviously, this year is a write-off. There's a question mark jet over next year, let alone, this year. And so you're thinking right, I've got a whole load of refunds to issue here, but what actually what I want to do, and you make the point here, actually maybe you want to persuade people to hang on to their ticket because it's still going to be good for next year. But at the moment you can't tell me what next year looks like. So I'm not going to take the risk by hanging on to this ticket so that I can use it next year when I don't even know if you're going to be around as a company. If the festival is going to be operational, I don't know what the line-up is going to be, I don't know what the dates are going to be. So it's all very well saying, ‘tell you what, well hang on to your money, you hang on to the ticket and use it again next year’. I don't believe that on that basis, you're looking after my best interests at all because what's the incentive for me? I just simply want to get my money back. And that's such poor communication because they're just simply saying, hang on to your ticket, or I guess we could give you a refund. The same thing with airlines as well, I'll take some vouchers, instead of taking the refund. We will make it really easy for you to claim your vouchers online or you've got to queue for an hour on the telephone in order to get your money back. Well, the point is that no none of these companies, in my opinion, are doing enough to tell me the benefits of leaving my money with them. They're not seeing things from my perspective. And so, because their communications are ineffective. And because I don't feel they've got my back in terms of giving me further options if things don't pan out as I want them to. I'm going to do the obvious thing. I'm going to take my money back. And then, I'm back in the driving seat.

Jed Wylie  18:14  
You're absolutely right. That is such a good point because what it does is it illustrates how critical it is to explain why, the options exist before you then give them to the customer, as you said, there's no point to saying well we will hang on to the money from the ticket because there's no guarantee that that company will be there next year so there's no reassurance that there's anything that there's any value to the consumer in doing that but if you're able to explain you know what you're planning to do the following year and all the benefits that are associated with that. And that then becomes, I think, a very different experience and in the communication between you and the customer, you've got to front-load the explanation before you offer the options to somebody. 

Ed Marshall  19:19  
Absolutely right. and I think that, so where do we go from here then in terms of having a business and figuring out how you're going to move to the next phase within this sort of rapidly changing environment that we find ourselves in?

Jed Wylie  19:32  
Well, one thing for businesses to do is to go above and beyond to do things that the customers would regard as over and above what they would ordinarily expect to receive from that business. I'll give you an example of how that has worked for a couple of large companies. Okay. EE said very early on, unlimited data for key workers. And that came completely out of the blue and was a very positive step. And it's one less thing for the key workers to worry about. So it was a lovely act in of itself, but also, it had the benefit of generating some very positive PR for them, and goodwill towards that business. 

Ed Marshall  20:30  
Now if I were to just make a guess as to why he did that: They know that social interactions are difficult face to face. So, everybody wants to communicate more via social media platforms, by zoom FaceTime whatever it might be. If you're going to do that on your phone which is convenient and if you're a key worker, you're probably working very hard and life's a little strange for you – you’re under a lot of pressure. So you're going to want that unlimited data on your mobile phone so all of a sudden, instead of having a two gig limit, it’s unlimited ad you can connect with as many people as you want for as long as you want. And that's on the house because you're a key worker. 

Jed Wylie  21:12  
I think it crystallised in people's minds, a very positive thing that EE had done and generated goodwill. That's so important for a business.

Ed Marshall  21:26  
But it's not just the key worker either it's actually how it's perceived by the rest of their customers, and the wider population.

Jed Wylie  21:34  
Yes, that PR then became very helpful to them and its why they advertised it on television because this was a big statement for them to make. Zoom did a similar thing they provided an unlimited Zooms for key workers as well. And were are acts of generosity, acts of kindness and the value that is being deposited into that market by that business is very important. 

Ed Marshall  22:11  
These are businesses that are looking to do something that's actually not costing them a great deal. Other than if they were charging for these additional services for unlimited data or unlimited calls or whatever, they would receive additional revenue but it's not costing them anything really to provide it. But the goodwill and the PR that they're generating means that they want to come out of this with a greater market share than they had on the way in.

Jed Wylie  22:35  
Yeah. So, it's a question, isn't it, what can you do in your business to surprise people? What little act of kindness can you do that will engender your customer support and make them feel positive towards your business, and also the spin-off marketing benefit is that you can get to shout about doing something good, and in the current circumstances that's a lovely thing to be able to do. I mean just simple things; it doesn't have to be complicated either. It can just be calling somebody up showing that actually you care about their business.

Ed Marshall  23:09  
But, it becomes a thing we do to help your business right now. Yeah, maybe it's a big open question, make it about them.

Jed Wylie  23:18  
Precisely, and it becomes personal and doesn't it as you're making a connection with your customer at a very personal level, and it does have a greater impact than email inevitably but it is. It is a simple act that you can do that people will be surprised by. And again, it's just that little act of kindness.  There are other things you can do like driveway meetings. I know that you've been doing that recently Haven't you Ed?

Ed Marshall  23:53  
It's been a thing, a driveway meeting if you're not able to meet somebody in the office or in their home but you really want that face to face connection, you find a way of being able to see that person face to face, and you find a way of them being able to in this instance, sign documentation in a safe way, with no time pressure. And now those driveway meetings have evolved to garden meetings because now we can socially distance in a garden. So, and it's amazing how many people do want that interaction it's going above and beyond because of instead of the client coming to the office, and us meeting in on our premises. We're taking time to drive out to see them, which is a time cost, and an actual cost. But then, they're going to remember that, and it's amazing, from my perspective, how important that social connection is because it's not just the clients that missing that connection. We're all human beings at the end of the day, so as a business owner, we crave that human interaction as well.

Jed Wylie  24:59  
Yes, which, which is this point of us being communal animals, you know, we naturally enjoy society. But I guess that created a lot of goodwill with your customers the fact that they that you've gone out of your way to do that. And, you know, they’ve recognised that it's more of a cost to you than it is to them.

Ed Marshall  25:22  
Yes, but it's something that we, and this is a powerful way to describe it, but it's something that we feel that we need to do on many, many levels.

Jed Wylie  25:34  
I can understand that sometimes, it's just nice to be nice. It's that simple. 

Ed Marshall  25:41  
It is and it's those values that drive it forward I think when you understand what it is that's important to you and your business and why you're in business in the first place, then these when your values are clear your decisions are easy.

Jed Wylie  25:53  
You’ve reminded me of another example actually and that was of a dancing school. They normally hand out little prizes and presents to the kids at the end of each one of their lessons. And obviously, because of the social distancing and lockdown, they've been doing their dancing lessons online, so all the kids are home and obviously not getting the prizes. So, they never said anything, but they just drove around to all the kids' houses and they put the price on their garden and the goodwill that created that! Firstly, it was a surprise which was lovely because they'd never said anything about it, it just happened. And secondly, it was that kind of above and beyond. Plus, the effect that it had on social media was extraordinary because there was just this overwhelming support, and that would inevitably have helped them acquire more customers. And if you know they're in a competitive situation. And by doing that and having that that positive PR that comes off the back of sort of doing something that's genuinely good and the kids appreciate, well, that just did them the power of good in the market.

Ed Marshall  27:12  
It's great to show an act of kindness and then to tell the world about it, but be strategic, be effective, take advice on how it is you should be communicating that, and then actually think ‘well, that was fun. I enjoyed it got a great response’. This is about keeping the business strong. And so what am I going to do next, and make this part of a coordinated strategy? Yeah, and that is where a bit of help can go a long way to maximising the effectiveness of what it is that you're going to do.

Jed Wylie  27:53  
Yeah, That's right it's actually trying to bring together all of the different communication strands that you have available in your business so it's not just a question of dropping things off at people's houses and having face to face or calls but the communication strategy should also include things like mailing people regularly. You know DM’ing in Facebook. Just being in their inbox, being front of mind with people that's so important, because that regularity of communication means that when that person is thinking about buying a product or using a service then they've got your name, they've got your business at the forefront of their mind, because they've been receiving regular communication. And there isn't a competitor that's just stepped in the way or they've forgotten about you because last time you communicated was six months ago, and now they just go and Google the thing that you supply, and they choose it from somewhere else, only to find, six months later that you've now lost a customer just because of a lack of communication. Just to put that into context because I know we're British right and British people are a little more reserved I think, than, Americans when it comes to this.

Ed Marshall  29:24  
Yes, we won't always say exactly what we're truly thinking. 

Jed Wylie  29:33  
But we also don't want to bother people too much and when it comes to things like email, there's a lot of barriers in businesses’ minds about how frequently they should send email. And this is a conversation that I frequently have with customers because they often start off by saying ‘well, we don't want to spam people you know we don't want to be sending them stuff that they're not interested in’, but in actual fact, when you communicate with them as long as you are communicating things that are of value, and are of use and are of interest to your prospects and to your email database, and you're fine, you're golden, you don't need to worry about that you know. I have a, just as an example a 30-day email training course, called Grow Your Business in 30 days. There are a number, exactly how many I think is 26 or 27, emails that go out across the course of those 30 days. Our average unsubscribe rate is 1 in every 180 subscribes. So that's a tiny fraction of people that unsubscribe. And that doesn't necessarily mean they're unsubscribing because the frequency is too high, there could be other reasons. But that's very small so what the proves is that you can communicate on a far more regular basis than you think you can with people, as long as you are giving them value, you are communicating things that are of interest and are of use to them, then they won't they won't feel as though it's an imposition to receive that communication, they will welcome it – it will be an enjoyable thing for them.

Ed Marshall  31:10  
That's what they want to receive because they're reading something that's actually sort of backing up their view on the world. That's agreeing with what's important to them, and that's ultimately what we crave as, as human beings, I guess, in businesses.

Jed Wylie  31:34  
Yeah, and it doesn't have to be just purely digital or purely email, as I was saying before you mix up these different communication strands so that you have a communication strategy if you like. So it's not just email it's not just calling them up, you can do things like you can send people physical things; so you could send them an article, you can send them a book, you could send them a taster set of whatever you supply or a free sample, you know and I know of one company that's just putting face masks in with their products. Their products don't relate to face masks they're just doing it because it's a perceived kindness.

Ed Marshall  32:13  
That is so powerful. I mean, I ordered some goods online from a cycling website, and inside the package was a couple of packets of jelly babies. It was a random act of kindness, it costs them very little and I'll probably order from them again in the expectation that I'll perhaps we'll get a couple more bags of jelly babies The price is delivery speed, and I got a couple of packs of Haribo but finding a couple of face masks in there. I mean that's just a whole other level. Yeah, somebody seriously strategizing within that business. The thing is that when you start doing that, you got to keep on doing it because the moment that a package arrives without a facemask in it there's going to some who are disappointed. That doesn't mean you shouldn't do this, that should just mean that this is part of your strategy, and you've got the means to be able to continue to do that for as long as you need to do it.

Jed Wylie  33:13  
Yes, and if you were to stop putting face masks in then you would just put something else of equivalent value in there instead but what everything that we've just been talking about, this whole section on going above and beyond, really panders to is one basic law of human behaviour, and that's the law of reciprocity. And very simply if you've not come across this before, it is a well-known and well documented psychological behaviour pattern and that is that if you receive something, if you receive a gift, then, you automatically feel indebted to that person and you want to level up with them. So, you want to give them a gift of equivalent value in return. And this is a very natural behaviour pattern when you receive something, you like to give. And when you give something you know you are also expecting to receive, so that everything is balanced and you're on an even keel with each other. And so what is happening here with businesses going above and beyond is, in a sense, they're tipping the scales a little bit, by giving more than they are receiving and that naturally in debtors their customers to feel a greater sense of loyalty to them as a result

Ed Marshall  34:26  
This is like an emotional bank account. Okay, you've got an emotional bank account with your clients, and you're just putting funds in all the time, so that at some point, you know what, there's such a surplus balance that if you do accidentally need to make a withdrawal it's not the end of the day, because you still got a big positive balance in there. You've got to view it that way give more than you take, and you will keep your clients and they will love you.

Jed Wylie  34:55  
Absolutely, one of the cornerstones, I think, at the moment for retaining customers, and having a successful business and attracting more is this notion of going above and beyond tipping the scales, you know, engaging in that law of reciprocity. 

Ed Marshall  35:14  
So, in the next podcast we’ll definitely be diving, a little deeper into that, and figuring out how you can strategize.

Jed Wylie  35:22  
So, what have we got coming up Ed? What's next for us in Episode 4. 

Ed Marshall  35:28  
Well, we need to be looking at how you're going to make decisions within your business, in order to make sure that you are going to further capitalise on what is a rapidly changing future here as we approach the new normal. There are so many variables that are outside of our control. And yet there are so many things that we still can control, making sure that, as a business, you can pivot and adapt and you can make the most of those opportunities that are presented. So, let's take a look at how you can make great decisions based upon the long term plan for your business because if your goals remain the same, the plan can stay the same as well, but you can adjust the variables of that plan to your changing environments. So, let's definitely dive into that in more detail Jed, which will include making great long term decisions, and not making poor short term decisions based on fear.

Jed Wylie  36:24  
Well, thanks to everybody for listening and tuning in, it's great to have you along for the ride. Thank you, Ed, for being amazing and awesome as ever with your fantastic new piece of tech that's made you sound lush all throughout this whole podcast. And folks if you've enjoyed this, so please hit subscribe to catch up with all the future podcasts and the previous ones as well. And in the meantime, in the next couple of weeks we'll be back with you, but have a wonderful fortnight. Take care of yourselves and look after each other.

Published by digitalROAR