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Four Questions to Drive Customer Safety and Engagement in a COVID-19 World

Mike Welsh
Publication Date
22 September 2020

Four Questions to Drive Customer Safety and Engagement in a COVID-19 World

Before COVID, most consumers chose retailers, restaurants, convenience stores, and other providers based on the quality of products and services, the pricing offered, and the overall customer experience. In the COVID world, consumers have a new priority: safety. 

Given the continued uncertainty around the spread of the novel coronavirus, every organization needs to give serious thought to how it can address health concerns, increase certainty, and, ultimately, reduce consumer anxiety. 

Rather than viewing this as an exercise in problem solving, consider it a business opportunity. Flip the script to find more value for your customers AND your business. How? You can start by exploring these questions: 

  1. How can you make it as safe as possible for customers to interact with your business?
    Consider how you can implement both physical and digital tools to increase safety. In store, that includes all the measures you’ve already implemented -- from requiring customers to wear masks and making hand sanitizer readily available to performing frequent cleanings between customer interactions. You can complement such physical precautions with digital tools. For example, you can add contactless payments to your mobile app, thereby eliminating touch (and the related risks) from your customer experience. Another potential enhancement: launching a voice skill so consumers can speak directly into their phone, Alexa device, or computer to find what they need, pay for it, and complete their order. Across channels, be sure to communicate the enhanced policies and procedures you’ve implemented to retain loyal customers as well as attract new ones who are ready to engage digitally.

  2. How do you infuse reliability and security into your brand?
    While advertising around the world has quickly pivoted to COVID-19-centric messaging, this opportunity extends well beyond a campaign or a catchphrase. Everything you do should support your brand and the connections you seek to build with your customers, and safety initiatives will deeply impact consumers’ perceptions. Be sure to weave reliability and security measures into your brand story. These initiatives should also tie back to your brand’s core values, helping customers see and feel your company’s commitment to safety. This must go beyond lip service or checking off a box to meet new COVID-19 guidelines. Consider how you can meaningfully demonstrate your commitment as part of your brand strategy and execution, especially as you innovate new digital solutions.

  3. How can you leverage your loyalty program?
    In the COVID-19 world, a loyalty program can be incredibly valuable in terms of understanding and communicating with your customers. When integrated into digital channels, a loyalty program helps you capture data about customer behaviors, values, and preferences. As customer habits continue shifting to digital channels, a strong loyalty program will be your vehicle for mapping personalized service offerings, new products, and new delivery channels to those evolving behaviors.

  4. How do you incentivize new behaviors that will help sustain your business?
    To its credit, Starbucks has long rewarded customers for using its mobile app and contactless payment functionality. Now other brands are following suit. For example, during its Anniversary Sale in August 2020, Nordstrom offered a $10 promo card to customers who ordered online and picked up in person (whether in store or curbside). Consider the behaviors that your brand would like to encourage among consumers – from curbside pickup and contactless payment to digital banking, contactless fueling, and more. Regardless of your organization’s new goals in the COVID-19 world, thinking through how to get your customers to embrace and engage with your refined ecommerce strategy will be key.

Shopping behaviors have changed at an unprecedented pace in 2020. Be strategic about how you build on that momentum – and position your brand as a dependable, safe, and desirable choice for customers in a way that works best for you.

If you’re ready to start thinking about how you can improve the way you protect and engage your customers, let’s chat.

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