Where have all the customers gone? – A Big Challenge during the Great Pandemic of 2020

News items:
Men’s Wearhouse, JoS.A.Bank, and Lord & Taylor have all declared bankruptcy

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Where have all the customers gone…long time passing?
(with apology to Pete Seeger)

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For years, I have been a fan of the three great questions from Peter Drucker:

What is your business? 
Who is your customer?
What does your customer consider value?

Peter Drucker says that a successful business has to get these right.  All three.
Be sure about your business.
Know your customer.
Know what your customer considers value.

Oh, for the good old days.

There is plenty written in many, many good business books about paying careful attention to the customer.  Customer service, the customer experience, customer retention… this is crucial to business success.

But, what do you do when your customers leave you, not because they have gone to some competitor, but because…they simply do not need what you are providing?  When they leave you through no fault of your own?

During the Great Pandemic of 2020, that is exactly what is happening.  The customers have left: they have left restaurants, airlines, cruise ships, amusement parks, sporting events, movie theaters, and so many more arenas where just a few short months ago the future seemed so bright.

Let me be a little personal for a moment.

BP (Before Pandemic) I pretty much wore a suit, dress shirt, and tie every working day of my life.  (4-5 days a week).  I taught college classes; and delivered many, many presentations to live audiences.  And, maybe because I am somewhat traditional (about some things), I wore a suit for every presentation.

I have not put on a suit since mid-March.  I am making a number of Webex and Zoom enabled presentations.  I am now wearing a dress shirt, a tie, occasionally a suit coat, but, with my jeans and comfortable socks.  I do not know when I will buy another suit, another tie, another pair of dress shoes.

I bought practically all of my suits the last few years from one of those stores listed above that has declared bankruptcy.  I was one of their customers.  Notice the word “was.”  I am now gone for the foreseeable future.

And, alas, they may be gone also.

Customer focus is, and always must be, central to your business.  But what do you do when circumstances mean that your customers do not need what you have to offer?  What do you do when all of your customers are gone?

You can be great at customer service, customer experience, customer retention, but…when customers no longer need what you have to offer, what then?!

This is one of the big, big challenges of the Great Pandemic of 2020.

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