It’s no secret that inflation is out of control. As of November 30, 2022, inflation in the U.S. clocked in at 7.11% — and consumers are feeling the pinch at the grocery store, gas pump, and even eCommerce stores. Customers are trimming their budgets, and that’s bad for business. If you sell a non-essential product or service, you could find more customers churning out thanks to inflation and recession rumors. In an era where consumer loyalty is at stake, brands must step back and focus on what matters now: the customer experience. If you want to inflation-proof your business as much as possible, you must reinvest in the customer experience. Let’s look at why customer experience is the answer to inflation, plus three tangible ways to boost the customer experience ASAP.
Inflation’s Powerful Effect on the Customer Experience
Consumers have less discretionary income during periods of inflation. They spend more money on essentials, so businesses have to work overtime to prove they’re worthy of their customers’ money.
You need people to engage with your brand, and that means creating unforgettable and crave-worthy customer experiences. If you’re afraid of customers eliminating you as a line item in their budget, you need to give them a really good reason to spend their hard-earned money.
While it’s tempting to focus on other areas to combat inflation, you just can’t ignore the customer experience because:
- Customers are spending less: If everyday essentials like groceries and gas cost more, people will trim their budget to cover the essentials first. That goes for everyday consumers and businesses, so both B2B and B2C shoppers will cut their budgets. If they don’t see value in your services, they’ll have no problem dropping you — and that’s why you need to give your audience the old razzle-dazzle so they stick around. Feel free to invest in marketing or other areas of your business, but customer experience is a must to keep your sales figures in a healthy range.
- Churn will hurt you: Losing customers sucks. Churn is bad for sales, but it can also hurt you in other ways. For example, investors want to see that you know how to retain shoppers. Customer experience matters because you need to show you’re growing, not shrinking. If you can’t retain shoppers (even if it’s because of inflation), you won’t be able to find investors to take your biz to the next level.
- Customers are emotional: If you try to turn a blind eye to inflation, you’ll pay for it. If you push high-dollar packages to struggling customers, they’ll probably take their business elsewhere. Inflation significantly affects your customers, and your marketing and sales messages should account for that. Right now, you need to focus on the customer experience to best support — and hopefully retain — shoppers who are having a hard time.
How to Inflation-proof Your Biz by Investing in the Customer Experience
Inflation can increase churn and decrease your profitability. The good news is that you can fight against churn and low sales by giving customers an all-star experience. Follow these three tips to refresh your customer experience and fight the effects of inflation.
We get it. Your business has higher costs because of inflation. But if you jack up prices without telling customers why you’ll experience churn. How you handle price increases will set the tone for the customer relationship.
That’s why it’s essential to be as transparent as possible with your customers. If you do need to increase prices, send an email to customers explaining why. Be as specific as possible. Instead of saying, “We’re increasing prices by $20 a month,” you should say, “Our data storage costs increased by 25% over the past year, which is why we need to change our monthly subscription fee to $65.”
That still may leave some customers less than pleased, so try to give your customers an increase in value or new features. You can also create tiered pricing with a lower-cost option to retain cost-conscious customers.
Gather and Act-On Customer Feedback
Customers are more likely to stay loyal to a brand that takes feedback seriously. If you want people to stick around despite inflation, you need to use customer feedback to improve the overall customer experience.
You can do that by:
- Making it easy to share feedback: Why guess what your customers want when you can ask them directly? Send automated emails asking your audience for their opinion. Not all feedback will be helpful, but you’ll glean a few nuggets of wisdom that you can use to improve the customer experience.
- Tracking the digital journey: Now’s the time to dig into your website, social media, email, and eCommerce data. See which pages people bounce from the most or which areas of your site people are rage-clicking on. It’s the best way to identify friction in the online customer experience so you can fix it ASAP.
- Auditing the customer experience: Nobody’s perfect, and there’s likely something you need to change to tune up the customer experience. Pretend to be a customer and go through the onboarding process for yourself to identify areas that need fixing.
- Hosting focus groups: Data and internal auditing are helpful, but nothing is better than talking to customers face-to-face. You can either interview customers one-on-one or host a focus group. You’ll learn what engages them, what enrages them, and what they really need to see from your brand.
Build Strong Customer Relationships
One of the best ways to create a positive customer experience is to invest in relationships with customers at scale. Nobody wants to hear stuffy corporate jargon: regardless of your industry, your audience wants to connect with the real people behind your business.
You’re human, so act like it! Invest in solid customer relationships by creating unexpected joy. Relationships are a two-way street; sometimes, you have to give something back. Plan surprises like birthday freebies, custom video emails, and loyalty discounts.
You can also forge deeper customer relationships with regular events. Events are hands down the best way to create lasting relationships with your customers. Host online, in-person, or hybrid events to connect with your customers on a deeper level. Host a DJ dance party, free cooking lessons, or a full-blown conference to create memorable experiences with your customers.
Create Experiences That Transcend Inflation Anxiety
A solid customer experience playbook will help you support and celebrate your customers during hard times. After all, positive customer experiences persuade shoppers to support your brand — and when you invest in your audience, they’ll support you. Position your brand as a must-have by following our three tips to overhaul your customer experience.
Whether you’re connecting online or IRL, events can help you overcome the digital noise. See how Endless Events helps brands across the U.S. pull off jaw-dropping customer experiences that will leave your audience breathless.