What do business leaders do during crazy and uncertain times? You want the business to survive during such storms, but only staying connected with your customer base is the sure way to achieve this.
Times of turmoil, such as the coronavirus era, can make personal interaction with customers difficult. If there was a time your customers needed you the most, it has to be during these times.
Businesses that rely on physical interaction with their clients should come up with creative ways to stay connected with their customers.
No matter how bleak things look, you have to learn to keep calm and reassure your customers that you care about them even at a time like this. Who knows, the customer-friendly policies you adopt now may be your reason to smile tomorrow.
When you stick with your clients through thick and thin, you give them a reason to remain loyal even on the days they will have many options. Hence, a long-lasting, closer bond is nurtured.
So, how do you stay connected to your customers during uncertain times? The following tips should guide you.
Be Authentic and Positive
If you want to connect with your customers now, you have to be transparent. Things are bad; do not sugarcoat the situation by giving them false hope or expectations, as they will see right through you.
Let them know your business has been affected by the pandemic, too, and explain how you are trying to cope with it. This will increase your relatability.
You should explain to them the steps you have taken to deal with the situation. If you have had to delay a product launch due to the uncertainty, let them know.
Your customers should know you are human too.
Nevertheless, try to maintain a positive outlook. People are bombarded with bad news every day, and you want to avoid adding to their anxiety.
As you let them understand your business’s challenges, try not to come across as a prophet of doom.
There is always a silver lining, so try giving them a reason to brighten up a bit — but without resorting to unrealistic optimism.
To sum up, the future may look bleak, but take the time to reassure your customers that, eventually, things will get back to normal.
Support Them and Avoid Hard Selling
Authenticity and optimism may not be enough, however. You have to offer the right kind of support.
Patrick Strother, who founded the communication company SCG, has recently stated in a Time article that customers are going to continue judging brands by their behavior through this crisis for a long time.
Leaving a good impression should not be your sole motivation, but it should help prompt you to play your part to help stabilize the situation.
It would help if you did not take advantage of the situation by overcharging. In fact, consider easing fees for your services or lowering prices for your products.
Accept that you will have to make some losses. Instead of prioritizing your bottom line, focus on remaining afloat at the end of this ordeal.
You can also help the community around your company. Many companies are out there assisting the front-line healthcare workers with such donations as surgical masks, gowns, sanitizers, etc.
Your customers will still notice your efforts, which can also help you attract new ones in the long run.
Send Out Personalized Emails
The need to keep social distance during a pandemic, for instance, means that people have limited access to traditional face-to-face communications.
To avoid feeling isolated, many people have turned to digital communication platforms to express themselves.
You can use the customer data at your disposal to evaluate how they have been affected by the uncertainty. Study the data to know where each customer is located and their possible financial status based on past purchases.
With that information, you should send each of them a short, personalized email with a message that transcends their mind into the soul.
Avoid sending generic emails that seem to address no one in particular. People want messages they can relate to.
With a personalized email, you can wish a customer a happy birthday or thank them for continuing to purchase from you, letting them know they are valued and appreciated.
If they reply to the emails, take the time to listen to their concerns, and respond appropriately.
It would help if you went out of your way to be particularly friendly and respectful. Many people are going through difficult times, and a kind word from you could be the only encouragement someone needed to smile.
They are not likely to forget someone who made them feel better in a trying time.
Connect With Them on Social Media
The era of social media enables you to connect with your customers more frequently. Platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram are more effective than email in this respect.
Because they stay at home most of the time, your customers now have enough time to visit these social media sites to connect with the outside world. Most of these platforms are low-cost or simply free to use.
Research by 4A’s has shown that over 85% of your customers want to hear from you even during uncertain times. Hence, this is not the time to go quiet.
Some of the information they seek is how you cope with the situation at hand, so showcase your efforts to continue meeting their needs through this problematic situation.
Be creative and come up with attractive images to accompany your social media posts.
Take the opportunity to post videos that provide updates of what your business is doing to help your customers and the community to deal with the situation.
Organize Virtual Events
Another effective way to maintain a connection with your customers is through virtual events.
Many businesses have turned to online conferences, seminars, or virtual panel discussions to engage their customers even through social distancing.
Video meetings have been made easier through software such as Facebook Live, Zoom, or Google Meet.
Do you want to give a discount on one of your services or products?
Set up a webinar and use email marketing to reach out to your customers and convince them to attend.
During the webinar, dwell on how the product or service can solve one of your customers’ main pain points. In the end, sell the offer and emphasize the discount.
Alternatively, be creative and come up with a sort of virtual roundtable to keep in touch with your customers in a more informal manner.
Such virtual events build stronger relationships between your brand and the customers. Vary them to gauge what works well for your business.
Even in times of uncertainty, a business that focuses on a robust customer-company relationship does better than one that is exclusively profit-minded.
Therefore, make an effort to be there for your customers and other stakeholders.
Treat your employees well, too, as they ultimately deal with the customers. You may need to retrain your employees on how to interact with customers during this challenging period, but don’t neglect their well-being either.
The way you react to the situation now will affect your company’s image for years to come when things get back to normal.
Joe Peters is a Baltimore-based freelance writer and an ultimate techie. When he is not working his magic as a marketing consultant, this incurable tech junkie devours the news on the latest gadgets and binge-watches his favorite TV shows. Follow him on @bmorepeters