Returning to “Normal” — Not the Best Strategy

The pandemic has upended just about everything. We hear that so often, it’s almost become trite. It is, nevertheless, all too true. New rules of engagement have altered our work, entertainment, education, and family interactions.

The impact on consumer behavior has been just as intense. Consumers’ values, perceptions, attitudes, and expectations have all changed. A recent study by research firm Accenture—spanning 25,000 consumers in 22 countries—makes this very clear. Half of respondents say they have re-evaluated their personal purpose and what’s important to them, while 42% say they now realize they need to focus on others more than themselves.

This value realignment is changing buying habits in almost all industries, including B2B relationships. Consumers expect companies to understand and address this new perspective. They expect brands to take more responsibility in motivating them to live by their values, and they want to have confidence in the companies with whom they do business.

Impact on Consumer Communication

Companies that expect to resume business as usual when the pandemic is behind us should rethink that strategy. We are dealing with a new dynamic that applies to how companies operate and how they communicate.

Successful communication strategies must now take these factors into account:

  • Before you communicate, listen. Become engaged with your customers and hear what they have to say by doing surveys, interviews, or focus groups. You can include your employees, who are also consumers.
  • Get marketing, sales, innovation, R&D, customer service or anyone who is involved in meeting consumer expectations involved in developing new communications objectives. They all have valuable input.
  • Deliver better experiences for customers. Forget the hard sales pitch and deliver more valuable information. If your company has established policies, standards, or projects to align with customer values, publicize them. Examples might include sustainability projects, better safety regulations, more ethical sourcing, or community development initiatives. Your transactional documents are a perfect place to highlight information of this nature.
  • Be easy to deal with. Make sure links on websites and social media platforms work seamlessly. Continuously test QR codes and pURLs you include in printed documents. All calls to action should be easy to execute, with clear directions and functional pages. Verify your data is correct. People have gone through a tough time; it’s just polite and considerate to make things easier for them when you can.
  • In this new paradigm, customer relationships are not separate from the company or brand. Communications should show how internal operations prove you’re a customer-driven company. Customers are just as interested in how you produce and deliver your product or service as they are in the product or service itself.
  • Another trite aphorism that is true: be authentic. This is more crucial now than ever. Hollow, self-serving sentiments will be exposed for what they are. Whatever you communicate or offer should show a genuine desire to help. Don’t spin a new product as something that will help your clients if that’s not actually the case. Don’t say you care about the environment if those claims are inconsistent with your actions.
  • Consumers, including business buyers, want what they want, when they want it, and how they want it. That means it’s now critical to have a presence on all communications platforms so consumers can access information at their convenience. Be sure messages on different platforms are consistent and re-enforce each other.
  • Be relevant. If you have customer data from purchasing habits, loyalty programs, or other interactions, now is the time to use it. Create personalized and relevant messages or extend offers consumers actually want to know about and find useful for their needs. One-type-fits-all generic messages are very easy to tune out and delete. Techniques such as data-driven messaging added to transactional documents are effective ways to build trust.

Returning to what used to be is not an option. Being accountable, open, genuine, and transparent is the way forward and your communications should lead the way. Click here to see how DocOrigin can help you move forward.