Customer Retention Through Localization in the Post-Pandemic Era
By: Aen Ali Hashmi
COVID-19 started at the end of 2019 and quickly escalated into a full-blown health and economic crisis. Affecting millions of people and businesses worldwide, the pandemic left a mark on the progress of economies, health systems, and businesses. Small business owners suffered the greatest impact from the crisis, with disruptions in the supply chain, manufacturing cycles, and human resources management.
But perhaps the greatest economic impact of the pandemic was seen on customer retention, engagement, and consumer perceptions.
As businesses grapple with the consequences of the pandemic, customer retention and customer engagement have been the top priorities for many business owners.
Luckily, localization and translation have paved a way for these companies to recover from the effects of the pandemic. How exactly can these companies use localization to retain their customers in the post-pandemic world? Let’s take a look.
How to Retain Customers Through Localization in the Post-COVID Era
Provide Assurance of Care
The customer experience in the post-pandemic era is very different from the pre-pandemic era. Now, businesses are dealing with customers who are collectively surrounded by a risk of lockdowns and financial burdens. This is the reason why it is so important to design products and services in a way that displays care, safety, empathy, and trust for customers.
The good news is that many companies are already working towards providing that assurance of care to global customers. They are showing their brand’s concern for consumer safety by issuing health advisories as well as preventive measures.
In addition, many companies have partnered with health services and non-profit organizations to give out a reassuring message to their customers that promises to be empathic and caring, instead of being profit-driven.
Localization offers an opportunity for companies to give out a message of care and empathy to customers. Companies can lend out this message by exercising equality and inclusion as a means to be more caring and empathic. They can do this by:
- Implementing accessibility guidelines such as the Web Content Accessibility Guideline on its web pages that allow easy access through an interactive interface, especially for physically challenged individuals
- Designing web pages that are compatible across multiple devices and have browser/OS options for greater access
- Delivering content that is localized and translated into global languages to make it easy for customers to understand the business offerings.
2. Communicate Actively with Customers
Maintaining open lines of communication with customers is imperative, whether it is an online business or a brick-and-mortar company. Companies can follow a localization strategy by addressing these customers in their own languages.
Approaching customers and communicating with them on a personal level will ensure these companies are able to form a stronger connection with them. They can follow this communication strategy by:
- Adapting a localized approach, whereby they interact with customers in their languages. This will give the companies a better understanding of the problems and solutions affecting customers
- Opening all lines of communication by allowing the website visitors to fill out a form whereby they can provide their email addresses for staying in contact
3. Employ user-Generated Content in Localization Efforts
The use of user-generated content in your localization strategy can go a long way in ensuring a company stays on top of the globalization efforts post-pandemic. The idea behind the use of this type of content is to keep consumers engaged with the different brands and to give them a personal glimpse of the local languages, cultures, and practices. Companies can follow this approach by:
- Asking customers about their preferences on social media posts and inquiring how they spent their time during the pandemic
- Initiate discussions about special offers, discounts, and offers that consumers would like to see after the pandemic has passed
- Offer special discounts to customers who promote your business through word-of-mouth. Doing this will ensure customers actively participate in patronizing companies’ offerings to other people.
4. Prioritize Digital Inclusivity in Localization Strategy
As the world adapts to the post-pandemic business environment, more people are being forced to make use of digital media and technologies, irrespective of age or social status.
Examples include members of the senior population who used to visit healthcare centers pre-pandemic but are now forced to adapt to telemedicine and digital technology.
About a third of people aged 65 and above are not confident about the use of technology and surfing the internet. For targeting these customers in the post-pandemic world, companies can:
- Interact with these customers through digital channels, encouraging them to use company campaigns and offers designed especially for them
- Communicate the importance of digital inclusivity in social media posts by offering special discounts and offers to customers
5. Introduce Low-Touch or No-Touch Operations Models
Many businesses are now redefining their physical experience to low-touch or no-touch operations models as a means to manage safety practices after the pandemic. In fact, many low-touch initiatives are now being carried out, such as “Tap to Pay cards”, chatbot-based interactions, and optical character recognition.
This experience of low-touch or no-touch operations can further be carried out by companies in their localization efforts by:
- Encouraging onboarding of new customers for the banking and financial sectors by using Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology to create digital accounts or online registration systems to manage these accounts
- Introduce Tap to Pay, QR scan, and mobile wallet authentication instead of traditional payment methods and PIN-based authentication systems which are no longer considered secure
- Employing remote-working models and online collaboration tools instead of physical meetings such as live-stream interactions, chatbot helpdesk, and online meeting conversations
- Deliver an experience of safety by introducing contextual chatbots which review the user intent and purchasing habits based on past queries and buying behavior
- Use OCR-based algorithms to identify patterns of text as well as machine and computer-assisted translation for testing the accuracy of the translation.
6. Strengthen the Company’s Digital Footprint
Companies that display digital readiness stand a better chance of being differentiated in the market. A company can strengthen its digital footprint by using the following techniques:
- Partner with key players and invest in digital capabilities such as automation, digital tools, and platforms
- Introduce innovative technologies such as drone deliveries and autonomous cars as a means to provide greater access to customers
- Employing the use of digital self-serving channels as well as chatbots which can carry out analytics for greater customer insights
- Add multiple aspects of customer interactions by introducing cloud-based solutions and allowing systems to function off the premises
- Encourage learning and development through Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) for remote training of both company employees and customers
- Invest in Augmented Visual Resolution and VR-led troubleshooting for different sectors such as retail, telecom, and utilities, as all these would lead to an improved customer experience as well as reduced costs
- Enhance customer shopping experience by introducing virtual on-demand tours of retail outlets, owing to travel restrictions.
7. Maintain Customer Trust by Ensuring Privacy and Customer Security
The “work from home” initiatives that have been adopted by many companies have harbored the creation of threat actors and vulnerabilities after the pandemic. In addition, with customers and employees using their personal devices for social media usage, the threats of cybersecurity breaches and ransomware attacks have arisen.
These threats can cause irreparable damage to a brand name and reputation, possibly breaking the element of trust between customers and companies.
Companies can ensure the data privacy of their customers during these times of global crisis by:
- Carrying out software security assessments in order to analyze the security landscape of their organizations so as to protect against any cyberattacks and security breaches
- Employ a test strategy that can give a guarantee of security of applications against various threats such as SQL injections, DDoS attacks, and other cyber attacks.
The Benefits of Using Customer-Centric Localization Approaches in the Post-Pandemic World
The COVID-19 pandemic may be over now, but its repercussions and effects are still evident in the business and economic landscape of the world. However, this pandemic has presented an opportunity for companies to establish secure and strong bonds with customers for greater loyalty and engagement.
In fact, there are multiple benefits of adopting a customer-centric localization approach with customers in the post-pandemic era:
- According to historical data, an investment in delivering a greater customer experience through localization in times of economic stress has benefited company owners considerably. Business leaders who have redefined their localization strategies are likely to deliver 3 times higher returns from shareholders than companies who are lagging behind in their localization efforts
- Companies that are successful in delivering agility to customers during a crisis will create more value for their end users
- Organizations that use localization strategies to connect to customers on personal levels stand a better chance of getting promoted through brand advocates and referrals.
The post-pandemic era has disrupted the economic landscape on one hand but has opened doors for companies to experiment with new models of retaining customers through their localization strategies. It is important to deliver the right customer experience by using localization practices and staying focused on meeting customer expectations.
Companies which make an effort to redefine their localization efforts are likely to elevate their brand and build lifelong relationships with their customers.