Retaining Customers During the Coronavirus Crisis: Dos and Don’ts

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  • 4/23/2020
    The impact of COVID-19 has led to strange times for marketers. We’re seeing new paradigm shifts every day, and at thunder::tech, we are working hard to help you navigate its impact on your business. This content is one of many resources we are creating for marketing and management in the midst of the coronavirus.
    As things continue to change, we’re helping by providing marketing advice, fresh perspectives and strategic planning for companies during and after the pandemic. For a full list of our COVID-19 resources, click here.

    Data-driven (and budget conscious!) marketers know that it's less expensive to retain a current customer than it is to acquire a new one. But it’s the hunt for a new prospect that usually gets the bulk of our fanfare and attention. 
    During a crisis, it's critical for your organization to understand the importance of your existing customer base and to invest the extra effort to make sure they stay with you.
    Depending on your industry, acquiring a new customer can be between five and 25 times the cost of retaining an existing one. So during a crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic, what additional efforts should marketers deploy in order to keep customers coming back? 
    Here are a few marketing and communications categories to think through from a customer retention lens:


    How do your customers hear from you? Should they be hearing from you more during the coronavirus crisis? Remember, don't be tone deaf about this situation, but figure out how to stay top of mind (or at least of consideration) even when your customers are putting out fires of their own during the pandemic. 


    • Make sure your messaging is relevant and that you have something of value to share.
    • Ensure your website has a clear, visible statement about how you're addressing the crisis and what it means for your customer.
    • Take advantage of your CRM to send segmented messaging based on the problems each of your different customer personas are facing.
    • Keep the frequency of your message agile as the crisis unfolds.


    • Send pointless emails that sound like the other 50 generic ones in your inbox.  
    • Sell hard. There’s a difference between helping and selling during a crisis. 

    Customer Service

    Does your customer need more, less or the same amount of attention from your brand at this time and in the weeks ahead? Keep in mind that based on your answer, they may be expecting a different approach with your customer service during the pandemic.


    • Be transparent. If call volume is up and you have fewer representatives available to handle it, state that truth and offer alternatives such as self-help videos and FAQs. 
    • Use your customer data or loyalty program to provide something extra to customers at this time.
    • Find ways to be creative with your payment terms and ways you offer your product or service.
    • Be proactive with assistance whenever possible.


    • Act as if it’s business as usual. Something has changed for every business and every customer--and more consumer behavior changes are on the horizon.
    • Push the up-sell. There are plenty of other ways to remarket options to clients, especially once the economy reopens.


    It's much easier these days to use in-house data to target your existing audience with the right message at the right time. Social media ads especially are much more affordable at the moment now that social advertising rates have been falling since mid-March.
    By revamping or adjusting your ads, you have the ability to reach users who may have already expressed interest in your services or are existing customers. If your brand has truly stepped up and has a customer's attention, it is appropriate to think about growing your social following.


    • Decide if your product or service can be adapted during this crisis (or useful when we recover) and explain how.
    • Use empathy marketing tactics in your ad messaging.


    • Forget to communicate organically with your audiences that have already chosen to follow you on social and email.
    • Advertise on social or search just because rates have fallen.
    • Pitch a product or service that your customers aren't interested in during the crisis.
    These are strange times for marketers, but we can believe in and support the power of the brands we've built and the people behind them. The right strategy can support the people that most need and want your products and services. 
    There are opportunities all around for marketers to stay active at this time. Stay in front of this crisis and remember to keep your current customers close!
    Stay knowledgeable and ahead of the curve during the coronavirus crisis. Click here for more COVID-19 resources for marketers by marketers.
    About the author::Jason Therrien is the president of thunder::tech. He is a fan of entrepreneurs and trailblazers, a proud dad and he liked scotch before Mad Men made it cool.
  • Episode 124: Social Media in 2020
  • 1128
  • How to Optimize Your Advertising Campaigns During COVID-19
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