COVID-19 has created massive shifts in human behaviour. Overnight, millions of people were confined to their homes and businesses had to cope with not just a distributed workforce but a whole new type of customer behaviour and expectations. The crisis put to test customer trust and confidence—the two pillars of customer loyalty. The lockdown, the constraints, the anxiety and confusion has changed what consumer needs, behaviour and expectations, compelling brands to fundamentally alter how customer-centric brands engage and serve customers.
Also read: What COVID-19 has taught us
Bata India Ltd
- Trained its staff in 11 languages online so that they could communicate the safety protocols to consumers.
- Reached out to digital adopters who are reluctant to use wallets and online payments but are comfortable using social media and WhatsApp and offered them services like chat shop, where they could chat with store managers for purchasing products. Offered shopping on video calls where they could What India’s most loved retailers did differently to engage and serve their customers during the pandemic select products and consult with store staff to find the right footwear. All products ordered through the above channel were then delivered at home where the payment would be made in a contactless manner.
- Served those who are not digital friendly through BATA KIOSK, a store on wheels. This was specially initiated for children below 12 years of age and the elderly. This involved teams equipped with tabs helping customers select the products for them through endless aisle and delivering them overnight.
- Introduced a new feature ‘Find My Size’ which customers could use on a smart phone to get accurate measure of their shoe size and find the right size Bata footwear.
- Introduced a fully washable collection of footwear to give people that peace of mind when they step out and come back home.
- Connected almost all its stores to bata.in and all marketplaces for a larger assortment.
We have a diverse target audience, right from children to 100-year-olds and we tried different methods to take care of as many target audiences. It’s important for a brand to go the extra mile and cater to customer demands and build trust.
—Sandeep Kataria, CEO, Bata India Ltd.
Major Brands (INDIA) Pvt. Ltd.
- The team started calling regular customers to see what they needed during the lockdown.
- Accelerated online business drastically and ensured that all products are available online.
- Offered WhatsApp and home shopping to customers, which involved helping customers select products over a video call and taking two or three products to the customer’s home for him or her choose from. Also offered omni-channel, touch less shopping.
- Altered product lines to make them zoom calls and Instagram-friendly
Home shopping has been very big. Even in late September when things had opened up, 40% of our sales came from home shopping. There will be big changes with technology and workforce but one thing that will always remain is, the human touch.
— Tushar Ved, President, Major Brands (INDIA) Pvt. Ltd.
Titan Company Ltd.
- Combined various technologies to mine data and figure out which customer would be right for what kind of products and at what time.
- Reached out to over 10 million customers who are part of the company’s loyalty programme to reassure them about the safety and to inform them about the products on offer.
- Leveraged the relationship the company’s 20,000 customer-facing associates had with its customers to create the need for the company’s products.
- Offered video demonstrations of jewellery, resulting in sales worth Rs.100 crore. Customers then visited stores just to close the deal and pick up the jewellery, thereby reducing time spent in a store.
- Worked on “above the keyboard” products like smart pendant, earrings etc. which are appropriate for work from home.
- Encouraged customers through different marketing initiatives to work from home dressed in the same way as they would have for office at least closest to that.
Apart from listening to customers, we need to perceive things on behalf of customers for the things they are not able to see themselves because of the intense pressure they are going through. So we need to innovate not just by listening but also by observing and perceiving.
— C.K. Venkataraman, MD, Titan Company Ltd.
- Digitally engaged with the company’s primary customers— the traders—and deliberated on what to expect after the lockdown and decided on a certain profitability so that they don’t undercut each other.
- Shared SOPs with the traders and helped plan re-opening of store. As a result, for the months that stores were open, general trade (mom and pop stores) reported double digit growth over last year.
- Got its after-sales service up and running because of heavy usage of kitchen. On the seventh day of lock down, the company set up a full-fledged call centre with agents working from home to offer DIY help to customers for problems they could fix themselves. In cases where DIY was not the solution, the complaints were registered. This helped customers feel reassured that they were dealing with a brand that cares in times like these.
- Launched an exchange offer on opening up which encouraged customers to exchange any old product from the kitchen for any new product.
We are bringing out products for convenience and time-saving. Families need help, which is opening up a whole host of opportunities. The whole idea is to listen and understand what is happening in a home and provide what is needed.
— Chandru Karlo, Managing Director, TTK Prestige
Also read: Designing the new normal
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Article source: STOrai Magazine. Based on the panel discussion ‘New Models of Customer Engagement in a Post COVID-19 world’ at ReTechCon Online 2020.
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