March 2020

Owner’s Message on Coronavirus

When the going gets tough…

These are not normal times. They are not normal times to live through, and not normal times to be in business. It’s hard enough to run a business when times are good, and when life throws a curve ball at us with a global pandemic, the going can get really tough. While the health and safety are the top concerns for each and every one of us, it is critical we each have a plan to move forward as a business during this crisis. While no one can tell us exactly when this will be over, one thing is certain: it will be over. How we respond to this crisis is likely to define our businesses for years to come.

In uncharted waters, it is natural to have increased anxiety, concerns and fears. While there is no direct comparison, there are some similarities to how this feels when compared to other recent events in history that caused businesses to find themselves in uncharted waters. Events including the bursting of the tech bubble in the early 2000s, 9/11, and the financial crisis of 2008 and 2009. Lessons learned from the past remind us that it is exactly in these uncharted waters where we must remain calm, focused, and clear-headed so we can make the best decisions to navigate through this, and position our business for when the crisis passes. When the going gets tough, the tough get going.

Each of our businesses will be affected in different ways, and only you can decide what is the best course of action to weather this storm. During a crisis like this, it is a natural reaction to pull back on the proverbial reigns of your business, cut all expenses, and hoard cash. For some of us, that may be our only option as we are forced to close our doors. But even in that most dire situation, I would still suggest we must fight on to keep our businesses in business. We will come through this. When we do, there will be pent-up demand for everything. Businesses that took steps to stay engaged with their customers and market, and remained “in business” even if in a crippled capacity, will be better positioned than those businesses that fully retreated. This is not easy stuff, particularly if you’re watching your customers and revenue retreat. But I submit to you that this is a fight worth fighting. You’re a business owner, an entrepreneur, a local leader. Do not shrink from this opportunity, but push forward with all your effort to emerge on the other side stronger.

So how do the tough get going? In my opinion, it starts by continuing to demonstrate to the market and your customers that you remain in business, regardless of the obstacles put before you by this pandemic. As soon as you give the impression that you’re not in business, even if temporary, other businesses pressing ahead with whom you compete may steal your customers now, and keep them when we return to more normal times. Now flip that logic around. If you are the business that does NOT retreat from this situation but pushes forward aggressively, then you are in position to steal your competitor’s customers now and perhaps long-term. Unusual times may require unusual actions. Be creative, think way outside the box. Ideas that may have seemed ridiculous last month, may be worth pursuing today. Make no mistake about it, this crisis has put blood in the water, and we each have to decide if we’re the shark or the bait.

The tough get going by continuing to perform and preserve key business processes for as long as possible. If you remain in business and are continuing to deliver your products and services to customers, even with fewer customers, now more than ever you need to be listening to customer feedback so you can ensure they remain happy and loyal. There will be no better test of customer loyalty than when this event is over. Will customers come back? Even if your business is suffering from reduced orders and fewer customers, so long as you have customers, do not stop engaging them for feedback. This is critical for 2 reasons: (1) During a crisis like this, it is paramount you keep every customer you have. You may be operating with limited staff, which increases the risk of mistakes and mishandling of your customers. Turning off your feedback loop now is akin to turning off quality control at the very moment you know your ability to deliver high quality is under unusual stress; (2) Continuing to do business as usual, as best you can, injects a sense of normalcy in your business and your market. Customers may not experience, nor be impacted by, this crisis in the same way as your business. Injecting and expressing a sense of normalcy during times like these is good for business. Everyone knows we will come through this crisis, and operating with a sense of normalcy gives you, your team and your customers a bridge to the other side.

The tough get going by investing in their future. Continuing, and even smartly increasing, your marketing and sales activity may pay dividends when we emerge from this. Businesses will pull-back because of this crisis. In some cases, they may have no choice but to fully retreat and go out of business, as sad and unfortunate as that may be. You won't be one of them. But customers will still need to buy their products and services now and when this crisis passes. Building awareness now can help better position your business and brand for when this crisis is behind us. Clearly outbound marketing has to be done with care and empathy during these trying times, but there is a place for it when done tactfully. Invest in your operations to leverage technologies that lend themselves to the new realities of doing business today. If you haven't implemented online meeting software, now is the time to do it. If you're not selling your products and services online, now is the time turn on e-commerce. Find ways to leverage technology that augment or replace your traditional processes. Lastly, and most importantly, the tough get going by finding ways to help others in need. We do this in our every day lives, and now it is more important than ever. We're in this together, and we can each pitch-in, even in small ways, to help us all come through this crisis a bit sooner and a bit safer.

Nothing can overcome the loss of loved ones, and the pain and suffering of those infected by the coronavirus.  The impact to families, communities, cities and nations will be felt for years to come.  But when this is over, we will look back on this with memories of crazy times. Crazy times when we were forced to close our doors to customers, worked-from-home, struggled to find toilet paper, had a season without March Madness, live sports, and a postponed Summer Olympic Games, and many, many more.  But we will also have the memory of making great decisions that allowed us to stay in business to fight another day, where we emerged on the other side better, wiser and stronger. I send my best thoughts and wishes to you, your family, your teams and your friends for health and safety. Here at LoyaltyLoop we are fully operational even with the team working from home. It is business as usual, and as always, we are here for you!

Stay well and fight on!

John DiPippo
Owner & President

The Customer Loyalty Loop: Part 6

Ignorance is Not Always Bliss

Why your customers are walking down the street to buy products you already offer.

It’s frustrating to see customers buy from you, then purchase from a competitor for another product or service you offer. Chances are, your customers are completely unaware that you offer other products they need. You solved one of their problems by selling them one product or service, then never developed the relationship beyond that.

This illustrates why today the customer journey is viewed as a loop, not a finite marketing funnel. In the customer loyalty loop, the conversation continues beyond the purchase. You can uncover a wealth of information by asking for customer feedback and determining your promoters and detractors.

Use your detractors to tell you what went wrong and discover how to keep them. If they have a bad experience, they will go elsewhere. 67% of customer churn is preventable if the issue is resolved during the first interaction12.

Tell your promoters about other products you offer and entice them to stay with you. Mega retailer Amazon has perfected this. We’ve all seen the ‘other customers also purchased’ section on Amazon’s checkout page. Buying a pizza pan? Then you probably need a pizza cutter and recipe book too. Knowing who your customers are, what products they need, and identifying promoters and detractors will help you to deliver engaging, relevant information to your customers, increasing customer retention and loyalty.

12 Fontanella, Clint. “8 Customer Loyalty Trends to Follow in 2019.” Hubspot online.

Customer Churn is Preventable

Google temporarily suspends reviews? Add Facebook.

Last week Google announced that part of their response to the COVID-19 outbreak they have limited staff working from their offices, and as a result certain features of Google My Business will be limited. You can read this directly in the article posted by Google called “Limited Google My Business functionality due to COVID-19”.

Google provided very minimal details in their 1-line statement relating to reviews which reads “New reviews, review replies, and all Q&A will be unavailable during this time.” When we sign-in to our GMB account, we now see the following header.

On the Reviews page in our GMB account, we also see this header. Both “Learn More” links in each header land on the Google article reference in the first paragraph above.

This appears to be staged roll-out by Google, and we suspect the limited functionality will affect GMB pages over time and at different times. Our spot-testing confirms that some new reviews are still posting as of the writing of this post, however your specific GMB page may already be affected. In our spot-testing, we also see the option to reply to a review within tested GMB accounts has been removed entirely.

We encourage you to add Facebook to your LoyaltyLoop review sites, in addition to leaving Google active. To see if you have your Facebook review site active in LoyaltyLoop Promoter plan, click Settings, then select the location you wish to view. In the Location section under Reviews, click Thank You page. In the right section of the screen you’ll see “Ask customer to post reviews on”.

If you see Facebook, make sure it is checked. If it is not checked, check it and then click Preview Page to view your Thank You page on the left, then click Save Changes. If you do not see Facebook, drop us an email requesting we add your Facebook to your Thank You page and we’ll take care of it for you.

Editing Testimonials

When you use the Testimonial Publisher in LoyaltyLoop, you are given an awesome power; the power to edit testimonials before pushing them to your website.

You have great clients. Over the years they’ve come to rely on your attention to detail, trust and honesty. When they accept your invite to take your survey and provide feedback, the comment box is very inviting, especially to clients who know you personally - they can be liberal with their words. For this reason, we give you the ability to edit your testimonials before they appear in public on your website and on your social media posts. We let you edit anything. But, as my uncle always used to say, with great power comes great responsibility.

If the testimonial reads,

As alwas you do a great job see you at Jim's house next week for poker!

You can use the editor to fix typos, grammar, and personal information. Leaving you with a publishable testimonial that reads,

As always, you do a great job.

Using the edit function is also helpful to protect the privacy of your employees. It is not uncommon for customers to reference employees names in their testimonials. If this is acceptable to you, wonderful. But if you feel it is not, you can use the edit function to easily remove the name and replace it with "your staff" or other phrasing that does not change the nature and intent of the comment.

But, you must be careful not to change the customer's intent of their comment. A good rule of thumb is to imagine you give a testimonial for a business you work with who also uses LoyaltyLoop. You see your comment on their web site, only to discover your meaning was completely altered by the company after editing. Your original testimonial read,

While my orders are delivered mostly in a timely manner, they constantly require rework causing delays and frustration.

But the company edited it to read,

My orders are delivered in a timely manner…

Do you think you'd continue doing business with a company that would do that? I wouldn't. In short, a good edit to a testimonial makes it appear more professional by fixing spelling mistakes and grammar, and does not change the customer's intent.