Firms need to accommodate customers and partners with uncertain or reduced incomes due to the COVID-19 pandemic or lose their business entirely, according to a new report by Forrester.

The consultancy looked at how 26 B2C and B2B firms in the Asia-Pacific region are changing their policies and strategies to support their customers in these tumultuous times and found that leading firms:

Removed sources of customer stress

The crisis is upending everything about customers’ lives, from where (and if) they work to how they buy groceries. The rules and regulations that create friction and annoyance for customers in normal times become anywhere from painful to unbearable in bad times. Some companies are re-evaluating existing policies and changing their approach, specifically to reduce unnecessary pain during this unstable time.

In India, telco brand Airtel extended prepaid validity for more than 80 million low-income customers by almost a month even after it ended and added ₹10 (US$ 0.13) to customers’ talk time so they could continue to make and receive calls.

Added benefits that demonstrate values

Brand promises and corporate values are just words on a page until customers see how they’re operationalised. Firms that aim to live up to their brand promise and demonstrate their values are offering additional or enhanced benefits that create the glue in sticky, loyal relationships.

In Australia, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation expanded its schedule of free educational content to respond to the stress facing parents home-schooling their children for the first time, working with state and territory education departments to deliver additional curriculum-linked content to children of all ages.

Improved the ecosystem partner experience

Companies are flexing their approaches to dealing with suppliers and customers alike, changing contracts and payment terms to support partners when cash flows are less reliable. They’re also looking out for society at large.

In China, Bytedance offered premium business plans for its Lark enterprise messaging and productivity tool for free and made the three-year business premium plan free for hospitals, schools and non-profits in Hubei province.

Forrester also noted that brands should take this opportunity to think long-term and evolve the customer experience by:

  • Stopping policies that are unfriendly to customers.
  • Being more transparent with customers about how you can help.
  • Continuing the recovery cycle by mapping out the transition to new business-as-usual operations.

Sourced from Forrester