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Helping customers during challenging times and achieving better business results

As the pandemic hit, businesses across the country found themselves needing to reorient their strategy to quickly face the new reality, and it was no different for marketing teams. In our field, leaders were suddenly asked to evaluate if their strategy and messages were still appropriate for their customers, and if they were supporting their needs in the best possible way.

While we’re not post-pandemic just yet, it’s already clear to see that the businesses that were able to ensure a laser focus on their customers and their needs, positioning themselves as trusted partners, have entered 2021 in a much stronger position than they might have. With 79% of people saying that they are likely to favour brands that behaved well during the Covid-19 crisis and with clear and frequent communication (75%),


it is more important than ever to not lose sight of the importance of customer relationships. But how best can this be done in such volatile times?

Understanding unique customer challenges

The way your organisation chooses to work with your customers and the broader community during a crisis will leave a lasting impression. It has been no different in recent months, and we’ve really found that creative and empathetic thinking has been critical in addressing customers’ needs.

DHL Supply Chain has been frontline throughout the pandemic, with a global workforce of 155,000 people in almost every industry, from car manufacturing to food retail. As a result, we were faced with the challenge of communicating with customers in vastly different situations, with some unsure that they would survive, while others tackled the challenges brought about by huge surges in demand.

To ensure you’re best placed to help with each unique set of challenges, recent months have really emphasised the need to focus on the fundamentals. Stay true to your company’s purpose and values while acknowledging how the customer’s business is doing. Ask yourself, does your customer need innovative digital solutions to better manage business processes from different locations? Or do they need support in expanding their home delivery options? By staying customer-centric and insight-driven, you can ensure that you market your services appropriately and can help each and every customer resolve their issues with success.

Focus on trust and transparency

Now more than ever, marketing activity and campaigns that are focused on trust and support are the key to growing a pipeline and to strengthening your relationship with existing customers.

Over the last year, we have found that customers really valued working with partners who could offer a mutual understanding of how each business was doing. For example, we found that when we took the time to let customers know which parts of our business had been affected, and where it was business as usual, our relationships grew stronger. Reassure your customers, and let them know how you can work together to get through this now and be more resilient in the future. In turn, you will earn trust and respect and build deeper partnerships.

Listen, rather than broadcast

The saying ‘two ears and one mouth’ is true for a reason, and we really do believe that it is only by properly listening to your customers that you can tap into what they are really looking for. When the pandemic began, we quickly pivoted our strategy to focus on listening to our customers’ pain points and then made sure they knew that DHL would help them through this period, in whatever way they needed.

There are quick and easy ways to establish regular and continuous listening channels that can be hugely beneficial. For example, the findings from social listening tools and customer feedback surveys can quickly be used to implement changes to better support your partners. If you make changes to how you do things, let customers know that their feedback has been valuable, and what you’re doing differently as a result.

Moving away from marketing individual products and solutions, and instead focusing on enhancing the customer experience has been incredibly successful for us at DHL. In fact, we increased customer loyalty by 60% from an NPS score of 28 in 2019 to a 45 in 2020. So, with the customer relationship only growing more important, take the time to evaluate your strategy and honestly ask yourself and your team if you are supporting the needs of your customers in the best possible way. Ultimately, not only is it the right thing to do during these challenging times, but it will bring great benefits to you and your business in the long run. 

1. IAB UK and YouGov 2020

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