At the beginning of the pandemic, when I first started this blog, I shared how many small businesses were transforming their business models to respond to local lockdowns and how large businesses should take some of those learnings and apply them to their business models. And we even saw a number of large businesses take those ideas and leverage them effectively.
However, as the world has opened up a bit more, businesses that pivoted out of necessity to survive the early days of COVID, have started to return to their old ways of doing things. And, this is a problem.
In business, things are constantly evolving, constantly changing. And, when we introduce something new that benefits the customer, there is an even higher bar that has been set that business must now deliver on to grow that positive relationship with the customer.
When we revert back to the old way of doing things, we risk losing newer customers and damaging the relationships we’ve worked so hard to build. So, we better have a damn good reason for going back to the way things were.
Now, before I get into why you shouldn’t revert back to an old business model. I want to acknowledge that there are times when a business may need to go back to the way things were and how to address the changes with your customers.
Potential reasons a business may return to the old way of doing things:
- The change wasn’t sustainable (too costly, resource intensive, etc.)
- The business wants to maintain, not grow
- The change wasn’t delivering the expected result
These are all valid reasons for revisiting an earlier business model or tweaking your model so that your business is set up for success in the future.
So, how do you address these things with your customers?
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Communicate! Email, post, mail, etc. what the change is, why you’re doing it and how it will impact them, your customers.
When we neglect to communicate, it breeds confusion, frustration and distrust, which ultimately results in a damaged customer relationship that we must now work even harder to rebuild. The old adage runs true here, “Its cheaper to keep a customer, than acquire a new one.”
Now, lets discuss why its not a good idea to revert back to doing business the old way:
- Customer Expectations – Your customers have come to expect greater convenience and more ways to do business with you. When you remove some of those conveniences, you risk the customer going elsewhere with their business.
- Competitors Aren’t Going Backwards – Your competitors most likely aren’t going back to the old way of doing things, which means they’re better positioning themselves for growth and will continue to attract new customers… maybe even some of your former customers.
- Businesses Continue To Innovate – You risk being left behind, because your competitors and other businesses will continue to look for new and better ways to build those strong bonds with customers over time. If you’re not constantly evolving, your customers will go elsewhere.
Now you have a choice to make. Do you go back to your old business model? Or, do you continue with the new business model? Or, do something else entirely?
My recommendation is to:
- Assess what was working with your old business model and what was working well with what you tried during the pandemic.
- Identify what tactics align with where you want your business to evolve to and implement those changes
- Communicate the changes that are coming with your customers
- Communicate once the changes have arrived
- Welcome feedback and ideas from your customers after they’ve had some time to experience the changes
At the end of the day, you have to do what’s best for your business. But, you also have to understand the implications of how changing your business model and how you serve your customers will impact your business.