In every relationship, knowing when and how to listen is key, and the relationship between businesses and customers is no different.

Coronavirus has created a situation in which many businesses have been forced to innovate and adapt to survive, and though that is an inevitable necessity at any time, the pandemic has certainly forced the issue.

Innovation in a company has always been part of success, but innovation for its own sake can simply become a waste of time and resource that offers no tangible benefit for the business. The way to innovate successfully is to listen, observe and then use the information you accrue to relate more successfully to your customers.

We live in a world where the rate of technological change is phenomenal. Remember ‘Friends Reunited’? No, neither does anyone else.

So, you need to listen to your target audience and make sure that your engagement strategies are still relevant so that when people are ready to spend, they think of you.

If, having listened, you think that your customer engagement strategies are not as successful as you hoped then you need to start building them back.

But what worked before the pandemic might not be appropriate now so again, you need to listen to your customers. Their situations, habits, and priorities may have changed and only by listening will you understand how best you can engage with them.

Of course, this will be different for every business but the constant throughout is that you need to know your customer – and that means listening to who they really are rather now than who you think they are still.

To provide value for what your customers actually want, data will help you to target them smartly. Being specific and building loyalty from targeting genuinely interested niche customers is far more likely to result in sales than casting the nest wide and hoping.

However, aggressive sales tactics are often counter-productive. Yes, of course you want to sell, but connecting and engaging with customers in a gentler way is often more productive in what will inevitably be a competitive environment and may be the way to keep them coming back to you or even coming to you at all. Brand loyalty needs to be earned, not assumed, so try to listen out for the longer term potential in customers as well as the instant hit.

They need to trust you and to enable that you need to listen.