Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, many people have been worried about building and maintaining relationships with customers. Businesses have to create bonds and do things they used to do in person over the internet, which comes with its own sets of problems and benefits. However, most businesses rely on selling products and making connections throughout this time. The tension can be extremely real, but you need to start thinking this as a time to do something new. This is especially true if you are a smaller company- big companies have been falling left and right. So how can you keep your relationships strong? There are a few different steps you can take:
● Start By Reminding Customers That You Are Human
● Educate Clients About Your Change
● Assure Clients That You Will Be There
● Change What You Offer
● Think Towards The Future
Let’s break down these steps.
Start By Reminding Customers That You Are Human
Your clients need to know that Covid-19 is impacting you and your company as well. Empathize with people who are struggling and, if appropriate, express your own struggle. Use social media or your email list to reach out to your clients. For example, if people need to call and talk to a customer service agent at your company, post some photos of those people on Zoom. Show what they will look like – this familiarity will remind people that actual human beings work at your company. At the same time, you don’t want to show people sitting there in a tie with perfect makeup if that isn’t what they are going to see. Show someone with a bun in her hair or someone with a dog sitting on his lap. Don’t fake these interactions and keep your messaging brief – but allow people to see that your employees and your company are going through the same things that you’re going through.
Educate Clients About Your Change
You need to tell your clients that there is something changing, if the way you interact with them will change. Talk about changes to the hours of operation, new employees, facility closures, staff reductions, ordering options, delivery times, and other changes. While you can always update them while you are talking to them, it is better to do it first. Mention that these changes are motivated by Covid-19, but also that they are in the best interests of everyone involved.
Assure Clients That You Will Be There
There have been many companies that have just stopped where they were and won’t open again until this is over. If your company is in an industry where people are shutting down, you want to ensure your clients that you are still open. You don’t want people thinking you were closed and then finding out accidentally that you are open. Keep your social media accounts updated with your information – pin the Tweet to the top of your Feed, pin the post to the top of your Facebook Page, keep your Google hours updated, and put a banner on your website. By keeping these little breadcrumbs places, you are building up assurance in your clients.
Change What You Offer
If you can offer something to help people during this time, offer it. You can tell your existing customers that there are new ways to serve them and bring in new clients by offering new and older services. For example, if you are a photographer who cannot have people in your studio, offer your services in a different way. Some people have been scheduling (reduced rate) appointments to take pictures of families on their porches from the appropriate distances. If you cannot find a way to change the things you offer in that way, think about other options you have. For example, some alcohol companies have completely shifted from making rum and vodka to making sanitizers. When you do this, you don’t only keep your employees employed, but you keep your name in the public eye.
Think Towards The Future
Now is also a time to build for the future. Think about how your company will operate. You need to think about the health and safety of your team now, but why not make the most of this time? Did you want to paint the walls of your office? There has never been a better time. Want to foster more creativity in your team? Use this time for brainstorming! If you have the time, you can even use this as the time to train your employees in new skills.
Remember, this time will end. You will get back to work as normal. However, what you build now, how you treat your employees, the relationships that you build, and the ownership you show will have lasting benefits and implications. You get to choose which way you go.