Before we get into details about specific actions to take, let’s look at the big picture.

What is at the heart of every business, including yours? Customers.

If you don’t have customers, you don’t have a business. When deciding what actions to take to strengthen your business, always keep your customers front and center. If you make changes that end up hurting your customers, you’re ultimately hurting yourself. You’ll lose the people who are at the very center of your business.

Airlines are an example of what happens when you forget about your customers. Over the last decade, airlines have gone to great lengths to cut costs and increase profits. Service declined and customers were hit with various fees they never had to pay in the past.

The result? Customers are getting increasingly frustrated and fed up. It seems that everyone has an airline horror story. Flying, which was once seen as a luxury, is now often considered a necessary evil.

The moral of the story is to always keep your customers at the top of the priority list.

Before making changes, consider how they will affect the customer experience. If customer experience is one of your key competitive advantages, be especially careful about changes. If you destroy one of your competitive advantages, you may end up dealing a death blow to your business.

If you do make changes that will directly affect the customer, communicate those clearly. Explain to the customer why you have to make the changes and the outcomes you expect. The more transparent you are with your customers, the more understanding they’ll be.

Marketer Neil Patel is a good example of this kind of transparency. For a number of years, he made a particular software available for free. Eventually, however, the costs became too high and he was forced to start charging for portions of the software.

He sent a letter to his customers, clearly explaining what was happening. He detailed his costs, making it clear that he simply didn’t have the resources to continue making everything available for free. Then he laid out exactly what would happen moving forward.

You would be wise to follow Neil’s example. Explain why changes are happening, when they will take effect, and how the changes will affect customers.

During times of global crisis, it is especially important to keep the focus on customers. People will remember the actions you take. If you seek to serve your customers, even at the expense of profit, you will build up a huge amount of goodwill.

For example, during the coronavirus crisis, many companies sacrificed financial gain for the sake of their customers:

  • Many educational companies made their resources free to parents who were suddenly forced to homeschool their children.
  • Audible gave away free audiobooks for kids.
  • Moz provided free courses on search engine optimization to help businesses strengthen their online presence.
  • Loom offered significant discounts on their video recording platform so people could stay in touch with family and friends.
  • com made their platform available for free for 90 days to anyone affected by the coronavirus.

All of these companies are losing out on potential profit by giving these things away for free. But customers will remember the actions taken by these businesses and will be much more likely to support them in the future.

It’s about building your brand by doing good for others, instead of focusing on the bottom line.

Bottom line: If you keep the focus on customers, there’s a much greater chance that your business will weather the tough times.