Lessons from COVID-19 About Your Customers and How You Serve Them

Picture of Gina Blitstein Gina Blitstein combines her insight as a fellow small business owner with her strong communication skills, exploring topics that enhance your business efforts. That first-hand knowledge, matched with an insatiable curiosity to know more about just about anything, makes her a well-rounded writer with a sincere desire to engage and inform.

Lessons from COVID-19 About Your Customers and How You Serve Them

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on people, culture and businesses alike. We won’t know the extent of that toll for a long time. While there is no silver lining to be seen in a pandemic, at the very least, the coronavirus ordeal can be thought of as a learning experience. It has presented unique opportunities to operate our businesses, interact with customers and solve problems differently. How were these practices received by our customers? What did - or could - we learn from this unprecedented set of circumstances about our customers and how we can better serve them?

Some of the lessons you may have learned throughout the COVID-19 response about your customers is that they:

…are more understanding and flexible than you thought. Perhaps you learned that, although they could only get curbside pickup from your pet supply shop, your customers continued to do business with you rather than order from a big box store that would deliver directly to their homes. Why? Because they like you, trust you and appreciate you as a local business.

…are not as understanding and flexible as you thought. On the other hand, you may have run into customer resistance when you could no longer display your jewelry designs at art fairs and festivals. They may not be as keen to purchase your jewelry solely from images online without being able to see it in person and try it on.

…do value your business. If your customers came out in droves to support your small business no matter the concessions they had to make, you can rest assured that your business is one that is valued. Your customers picked up their food orders or had it delivered so they could continue to patronize your restaurant and assure it could survive through the crisis.

…do not value your business. You may have discovered that the minute you could not give customers exactly the experience they wanted, precisely when they wanted it, they went elsewhere without a second thought. As a grocery store that did not pivot to accommodate customers’ needs - like offering delivery and/or curbside pickup during COVID-19, your shop may have proved to be not particularly valuable to local residents.

…are willing to pay more. What if you had to raise prices at your hardware store during the pandemic due to lower volume of sales? Did your customers balk at that reality - or did they pony up and continue to patronize your business regardless? This is a telling indicator that your customers shop with you based on factors other than your prices and that you could probably raise your prices across the board without losing customers based upon it.

…are not willing to pay more. You may have discovered, however, that your customers actually do factor in price when shopping with you. If you raised prices on your consulting services due to having fewer clients and customers complained, you’ve been informed that your current pricing is what the market will bear.

…appreciate delivery services (and others) you hadn’t offered prior to COVID-19. A unique situation like COVID-19 calls for unique solutions. If you have implemented delivery service from your neighborhood pharmacy business, customers may not want that service to go away once the pandemic is over. Congratulations! You’ve discovered a new way to better serve your clientele’s wants, so keep offering this convenience to them.

COVID-19 has caused business owners to change a lot of their normal, day-to-day operations and procedures. Rather than look at those changes as a negative and inconvenient hassle, consider it a unique, ongoing opportunity to learn more about customers - their needs, preferences and what drives their shopping behavior. What you learn can help you better serve your clientele into the future.

What have you learned from and about your customers during COVID-19?

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