How 2020 has impacted 2021 customer communication plans
When we look back on the year 2020 – what will our lasting memories be? For the unfortunate, it will be the loss of loved ones or jobs. For the fortunate, being confined to our homes or suddenly having to home school our children.
A recent McKinsey survey of US consumers found that 64 percent of respondents have felt depressed, anxious, or both over the past several weeks, and 39 percent stated that they would be unable to pay their bills after one month of unemployment.
So, much of what happened in 2020 is defined by the loss of physical contact in all areas of our lives. We could no longer interact physically with family, friends and colleagues. As a result, we had to embrace a sudden reliance on digital interactions.
So, how has 2020 impacted your 2021 customer communication plans?
In the year where we lost physical human contact, digital communication connected us
The sudden migration to digital channels had many knock-on effects for business. Companies began sending frequent communications to reassure customers. Across all digital channels – email, social media and in-app customer communication spiked.
Smart organizations were able to hit the right frequency of touchpoints and ensure their content was relevant and personalized.
Good communication is vital during these times. Organizations which invest time and energy into delivering clear communication will rapidly build trust with their employees and customers.
2020 Highlighted the importance of digital communication, but it also motivated a new approach
At the beginning of 2020, it’s possible that companies were still applying a ‘spray and pray’ approach and getting away with it. But tolerance for irrelevant information is at an all time low. With an overwhelmed and anxious audience, relevance and hyper-personalization is simply essential.
There is also a marked shift in what consumers value, bringing kindness, community and purpose to the forefront of what customers expect from businesses.
This graphic, extracted from a recent article by McKinsey & Company, gives a nice overview of how companies can consider emotionally connecting with their customers:
Communicators need to recognize the shift from the “attention economy to the trust economy,” as trust becomes one of the most important elements between a company and its customers.
What marketers should consider when planning their 2021 customer communication plans
- Invest in email marketing – according to EmailOut, 2020 has motivated a “digital detox,” with people consciously taking a break from checking or posting on social media and some even deleting their accounts completely. Fortunately, one channel does not seem to have suffered the same fate. Email continues to be a source of information for the overwhelmed, especially business-to-customer communication.
- Target conversations, not conversions – now is not the time for hard sales messages. Organizations should relook their values to incorporate empathy and community. This is what will be remembered and rewarded with customer loyalty. It is also an opportunity to reconnect with lost customers through messages of support and encouragement.
- Find a way to provide exceptional value – this may be through financial support such as cost savings, payment holidays or avoiding price increases. It could also be done by really focusing on the customer experience and removing anything that causes friction in the customer journey. When people are anxious and uncertain, the last thing they need is complications.
- Encourage digital adoption, but prioritize choice – let customers decide which channel they are comfortable with. Now is not the time to terminate channels and organizations should be prepared for some customers opting to return to print communications. Familiarity is comforting and this has been in short supply during 2020.
One thing that 2020 has not impacted, is the requirement for businesses to communicate with customers anywhere, anytime and on any device. With a little bit of consideration and a lot of empathy, organizations can ensure that the tone and content of communications hit just the right spot.