The reality of the COVID-19 pandemic has become apparent: the future of many businesses is uncertain and no industry has been left unscathed. In these unnerving and unprecedented circumstances, many of us are seeking solutions on how to navigate this new landscape and continue to care for our customers. While there is no proven answer, we’ve joined forces with our Industry Partners to create a toolkit of tangible tips to help preserve your customer experience during this time and beyond. Beyond tips, we have compiled a PerkPack, with promo offerings from our partners, to help your business take action on their recommendations. Our combined hope is that we, along with every business of every size and in every market, emerge from these troubled times with stronger and more streamlined systems.

This is an uncertain time for consumers, so make sure that every touchpoint with your business is as unambiguous as possible. Maintaining clear communication throughout every step of the customer journey provides a reassuring experience and ultimately, builds brand loyalty.

Connect with your audience

Be considerate of the reality of today’s climate and explore ways to connect with your customers outside of your direct product or service. The 99designs team recommends thinking about how you can help those in your community and customer base. Can you help them with specific resources from within your network? Creating a simple landing page even with recommendations and services specific to their needs can be helpful in getting people the support they need in this uncertain time.

Consider elevating your customer unboxing experience with custom tissue, stickers or tape to bring some branded cheer to your customers. As many people are self-isolating, this final touchpoint is a great opportunity to remind your customers that they are not alone!

Design by Black Lamb Studio

Communicate at every step

Given the chaos of the past month, it’s highly likely your business is experiencing some level of delays, shortages, or other such hiccups. Sharing that with your customers, as well as your plans to rectify the issues, will help encourage them to be more understanding of any ensuing problems.

Our friends at ShipStation remind retailers to be sure your item availability status is updated in as close to real time as possible as consumer demand changes. This is especially important for products that are in high demand due to the outbreak, such as cleaning supplies. Clearly indicate the availability of each product, and if possible, provide a time window for waitlisted items.

Gorgias reminds us that finding creative ways to engage with customers on a personal level is extremely important. They suggest doing this by having personalized conversations with them in real-time, as well as managing all communication channels and customer centric information in one place. Timely customer support is paramount to maintaining customer satisfaction and encourages more interaction with your brand.

Photo via Gorgias‌‌‌‌

Off-site or post-purchase communication is necessary as ever. As Big Commerce advocates, email continues to be one of the most effective marketing tools in the ecommerce toolbox, so make sure that you keep collecting email addresses on your site. Some brands use pop-up boxes to prompt users to enter their email addresses in return for a small promotion, like 15% off their first purchase, or free shipping. You should also make sure you’re keeping a steady flow of communication with your email list. Develop a regular email cadence and include promotions, new content, product launches, and other news that can encourage customers to visit your site.

Be flexible and evaluate your messaging

Being understanding of customers’ difficult situations is important, if not downright essential. Review your current procedures, and tweak as needed to offer your customers options and flexibility.

As people navigate the COVID-19 crisis, they're looking to maximize their budgets. As Quadpay mentions, for online merchants, this makes inclusive payment methods that much more important. Letting a customer choose the payment method that best fits their budget helps reduce friction and increase conversion at checkout. Whether that's credit, debit, digital wallet, or an installment plan, you're giving customers the flexibility they need.

Also, take note if your company offers a subscription option: the Recurly team highlights that when consumers may be facing financial difficulties, they often look at canceling their subscriptions as a quick fix. However, many subscribers realize that they only need temporary relief and would be willing to pause a subscription instead of canceling it. For this reason, it’s paramount that you offer subscribers the option to pause a subscription. Giving subscribers the ability to pause their subscription is a smart way to avoid voluntary churn and reduce the marketing costs required to win them back at a later time.

The experts at Churn Buster remind us that between layoffs, reduced hours, and consumers cutting back on unnecessary expenses, failed payment issues are set to increase really rapidly over the next several months. That means that a respectful, compassionate dunning process is more important than ever. Make sure you’re adjusting the messaging and tone of your recovery emails, offering customers the ability to skip a shipment rather than cancelling, and routing all replies directly to your support team.

Photo via Churn Buster

Examine your supply chain

This pandemic has caused supply chain hiccups for all us, whether when we are hunting for toilet paper, or pivoting to fill gaps in our manufacturing logistics.

Shipbob suggests taking steps to diversify both manufacturing and fulfillment locations, when possible. On the manufacturing side, that might take awhile, especially with the demand and uncertainty today. On the fulfillment side, that can be done much faster. The importance of proper supply chain management is showing right now.

Even as Amazon limits its fulfillment services to essential goods only, there is no need for panic, echoes Floship. If you manufacture in or near China, you can ship through Hong Kong and continue growing your business. It has an excellent infrastructure and business continues as usual since the city has managed to control the spread of Covid-19 extremely well.

We’re all in this together

This new decade is not off to a start that any of us would have wanted - our hearts go out to our customers, our partner network, and our business community. While this is certainly not business as usual, we hope that these tips, and the promo offering below, will help you to continue to serve your customers and weather this pandemic.

PerkPack

Thanks to our Partners for pulling together to bring you this offering!

ShipStation is offering a free 60-day trial with the code noissue60

99designs is offering the noissue community a US$20 discount & a feww power pack upgrade (worth $90) towards their first design contents. Claim the discount here. (Offer is available in any category, but excludes banner ads, Facebook covers and social media pages)

BigCommerce is offering three months free to all new merchants. More information and terms are here.

Quadpay is offering a promotional rate of 2.95% + $0.30 per transaction for 30 days. Email [email protected] for more info!

Churn Buster is offering your first two months free on a Churn Buster Pro plan for $50/mo (min. $500 value). The pro plan includes account management, customizable dunning campaigns, in-email skip links, optional SMS, reply-routing, and more.  Claim the discount here.  

Shipbob is offering half off their implementation cost. No code needed - just reach out to [email protected] and mention that noissue sent you!

Gorgias is offering helping all new merchants two free months. More information and terms are here. In addition, Gorgias is providing 3-6 months of free services for those affected by COVID-19. More information on that stimulus offering here.

noissue is offering free sample packs for sustainable e-commerce packaging options, available here.