The past year has been unprecedented in many ways however, it’s hit businesses in ways they have never imagined. In fact, many businesses were completely unprepared for a global pandemic. They lacked the infrastructure for remote work, the processes and automation for continued business activities when the office wasn’t open, and the cash reserves to survive in a closed economy.
It’s very important to think about your customers in the context above. Are they healthy coming out of the pandemic due to their preparation or business type? On the contrary, did it have a very significant, serious impact on their ability to survive? This type of analysis will allow you the ability to determine the best way to communicate with them during this time.
Regardless, the guiding principle to use during this time is empathy. Your communications, whether they are written or voice, need to lead from a place of understanding. Your customer might not be able to make payroll or could be close to losing their business. You will want to coach all of your employees, no matter their role, to be emphatic when communicating with customers.
When paired with empathetic communications, here are some tips for how you can help your customers through this critical time.
- Determine how your business can add more value. Perhaps you offer automation tools or additional payment acceptance methods they can leverage to keep their business going. Consider flexible payment options for the next 6 months to assist in improving their cash flow. Some businesses are offering free consulting to their customers via phone or web conference to provide them industry-specific feedback on how they can survive and thrive. The empathy and support you show now will have a lasting impact on the retention and satisfaction of your customers.
- Create new products or solutions. Market new products or solutions that are specifically catered to assisting your customers (and their customers) during the pandemic, at a time when they need you the most. Over the 10 months, there has been a lot of creativity and innovation in business. Think about how you can extend your product in a helpful way, that in turn, continues to build your revenue and customer retention. For example, many restaurant chains have created “ghost kitchens” that prepare food specifically for delivery with no in-restaurant service given the increases in food ordering. Others changed their manufacturing lines to produce sanitizers or masks. Think about how these innovations impact your software and if you need to roll out new products or features to care for these customers.
- Prioritize relationships over business. At this time, your customers need more support than any other time. It’s key to remember they are people—just like you and your employees. Make personal phone calls or send text messages to them—ask them what they need to keep surviving and identify how you can help. Encourage your employees to do the same. Look at the calls coming into customer service. Are there changes you can make, services you can offer or just a shoulder to lean on for the customers that have called in? Building empathetic relationships during the most difficult time will build a stronger bond than any marketing campaign you will ever run.
Your customers are the foundation of your business. Implement empathy in your communications and consider the tips above to see how you can maintain your base, increase retention and most of all—keep your customers in business.