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Offering Convenience and Compassion

Offering Convenience and Compassion Article Featured Image

Demonstrate loyalty to your customers by supporting them in new ways and showing them compassion.

When will things return to normal? And what will the “new normal” be? During this pandemic, we know that all of us around the world are struggling to work from home or continue to work at businesses deemed essential, manage our families and our personal lives, and so much more. And because of social distancing, we’re often not able to relieve stress in the usual ways—by dining out, working out, getting together with friends, etc.

As this maelstrom hit, companies responded by sending emails to every customer who’d ever opted in to their brand communications. Most of those emails conveyed heartfelt, “we’re all in this together” messages, while also informing customers of changes in policies, processes, etc. Now that we’re beyond that initial touch point, what should companies be saying and doing?

While it’s important to maintain relationships with loyal customers, it’s just as vital to be intentional about your brand communications. After all, customers aren’t wishing for in-box clutter right now. They may, however, be receptive to receiving tips on safer ways to connect with their favorite brands or glimmers of hope in the form of brand actions that demonstrate compassion.

Making things easier

Here are a handful of companies working hard to stay relevant to their customers by removing procurement hurdles:

  • Apple Card is allowing cardholders to skip March 2020 payments without incurring interest charges.

  • Enterprise Holdings is waiving its young renter fee and reducing its minimum age to rent from 21 to 18 years old.

  • Hy-Vee, Target, Walgreens, Whole Foods and many other grocery stores are offering dedicated shopping hours for at-risk populations.

  • StubHub is providing coupons valued at 120% of the price of an original ticket order if an event is canceled.

  • Many fitness companies—including 305 Fitness, FabFitFun, Lululemon and Peloton—are offering free online classes.

Think about how your brand can remove barriers for your customers. What can you do to make your customers’ lives easier? Is there anything different you can or should do for your loyalty program members? Providing helpful and relevant information and/or benefits today is a path to securing customer loyalty in the future.

Giving back

More than ever, customers want to support compassionate, purpose-driven companies. One inventive business, Ice Castle Fish Houses, lent one of its ice fishing houses to a local hospital for use as a drive-through COVID-19 testing center. Both companies are vital to Montevideo, Minnesota, where they’re based, so their pairing makes good sense. Here’s a list of other companies finding new ways to give back.

·        Many grocery stores—in addition to adding special shopping hours—are increasing the wages of hourly employees to recognize their important contributions. Some are offering retention bonuses to reward employees working hard to keep their communities fed. And others are offering paid sick time to team members who become ill during this time.

  • Carnival has offered the use of its ships as hospitals for non-critical care.

  • Fashion brands—including Ashley Zhang, Bagtazo, Borgioni, Cult Gaia, Edie Parker, Irene Neuwirth Jewelry, Jane Taylor Jewelry, KkCO and Sarah Hendler—are donating a percentage of proceeds to No Kid Hungry.

  • InstaCart, Lyft and other gig-economy companies are providing paid sick leave to workers diagnosed with coronavirus.

  • KFC is partnering with Blessings in a Backpack to provide prepacked bags of food for schoolchildren.

  • Map My Run and Under Armour have invited “Healthy at Home Challenge” participants to log a dozen workouts in 30 days, and Under Armour will donate up to $1 million to Good Sports, which provides equipment, apparel and footwear to those in need.

  • Dunkin’ is giving $1.25 million in emergency funding to help families who are struggling during this crisis.

  • Starbucks is offering free mental health sessions to all U.S. employees.

  • Verizon is streaming biweekly concerts, comedy events and more via its Twitter account and Yahoo Entertainment, while inviting viewers to connect with one another and support favorite small businesses.

  • YMCA centers are providing day care for the children of critical community workers, such as medical providers.

All of these companies have taken a look at what they can do during this time of great need. How is your brand demonstrating compassion? What services can your business or loyalty program provide to create a sense of community? It’s likely never been more important for companies to let customers know that they’re mindful of the environment, their employees, their customers, and the community.

One other way companies are reaching out is by expanding their employee ranks. Amazon, CVS and Walmart, for example, are hiring. Employees across many business sectors have been laid off, so these companies are increasing their payrolls in order to meet increased customer demand and offer financial security to community members.

In the coming weeks, brand relevance will continue to be a moving target, and communications will need to evolve accordingly. For now, it’s time to provide help and compassion to the customers and communities that need you.  We know you’re trying your best in these trying times. And we applaud your efforts.

The Lacek Group is a Minneapolis-based, data-driven loyalty, experience and customer engagement agency that has been delivering personalization for its world-class clients for more than 30 years. The Lacek Group is an Ogilvy company.