Your customer has changed because we have all changed.
Recently two of my children have been welcomed back to school in person for four days a week. (My level of gratitude for this change is hard to quantify; just thinking about it brings tears to my eyes.)
As the school has reopened, the Principal has been asking parents to pick: either send your child in 4 days a week in person, or keep your child in a virtual learning environment. But once you choose, you have to stick to your choice.
Except there is one problem: parents don’t want to have to choose.
Because these parents may not be going back to a traditional office setting, they have more flexibility in terms of where they work, and they expect schools to offer the same continued level of flexibility too. These parents, after all, are consumers.
And consumers have changed because we have all, as humans who went through this pandemic together, changed.
We have learned to operate in a virtual model, and while we all have zoom fatigue, we now know that if we want to, we can operate and get quite a lot done in a virtual setting.
It is up to businesses, including schools, churches, large and small businesses, to recognize that customers have changed and that the market is now asking for something new.
Again and again I am seeing small businesses coming to this realization.
At first they think they are being progressive by now offering in person or virtual. But just like a grocery shopper sometimes wants to go to the grocery store, and sometimes wants to have groceries delivered, most customers now want the option of both, on demand.
I cannot come up with any business or organization that will not need to offer both choices at all times: in person when the customer can and would like to be in person, and virtual when he or she would prefer to connect online.
- School days
- Yoga classes
- Doctor’s appointments
All of these will have a customer who has changed and who will want to be able to choose based on his or her needs that day.
I know, I know. This stinks. And on our end at Her Corner, we need to figure this out too.
There are costs associated with a fully flexible model at all times. But I would rather we all plan for it now, versus lose customers later who see our businesses as outdated and inflexible.
Remember: listen to the market and what it is telling you.
This is the single most important lesson in business.