*COVID-19: We are committed to helping our community through this crisis. We’ll get through this together — read on and stay tuned.
This post was written by Venture Partner Charles C. Smith.
This ridiculous pile of tools is in my cobbler’s store in Brooklyn. The store is manned by a cobbler and his wife; both are at least 80 years old. Combined they speak 100 words of English. The place is a mess, the quality of the work is top-notch, and the store motto is “I no wanna rob the people.” That’s a direct quote from him after I asked him why he didn’t fix something I asked him to — it didn’t NEED fixing, so he wasn’t going to fix it.
I loved going there pre-COVID. I’ll love going post-COVID. But now it’s mid-COVID and all of us are relating to others in a different way. He has my loyalty and always will. That’s the opportunity for startups mid-COVID; it’s a unique opportunity to create loyalty amongst customers and employees.
You’ve already written multiple plans for how to get through COVID — what happens if you don’t have revenue, did you get the PPP loan, do you have to lay anyone off, what happens if your supply chain gets disrupted? Now it’s time to become a local business, like my tailor, and to build some loyalty.
The best way to do that is to get as personal as you can with both customers and employees. Call every customer and ask them what they need, not only from your company but from other people. What are their kids doing? How has their summer been impacted? How is working from home going for them?
You’re a DTC business? Send emails directly to random samples of customers. Talk to them on the phone. You’re already seeing the alphabet data about your business — what the CPC did with the CAC and the LTV with the GRD. Now, find out the emotions behind the purchases. Did they like the color? What did it evoke for them? Does it remind them of anything?
You should also do the same with your employees. Ask them why they first wanted to work for you. How is their day being disrupted? What could change for the better while we WFH? Are they able to get some time outside?
This should not be a cynical endeavor, a list of pat questions designed to inspire some faux fealty. Rather, it’s an opportunity for you to learn about your company at its roots and how working for you impacts your people every day. And that, in turn, will inspire loyalty from them to you long term.
Doing what’s needed is essential now. But don’t stop there: find out why.
Peace and Health,