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Tuesday April 28, 2020 - 09:57:43 GMT
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How Your Business Can Keep Customers In The Loop During The Pandemic

Who would have ever thought that a pandemic would be one topic that your business would have to navigate? However, if you haven’t closed your doors entirely and stopped offering your services for now, you can’t ignore the impact that COVID-19 is having on your customers or your business. Here, we’re going to look at how you address some of the difficulties that both might be facing, the changes to your business, and any updates you need to give along the way.

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Figure out what you can do

Before you say anything, you should first think about what changes you can make to help your customers during this time. Can you take more of your services online or do things in a more hands-off way? Can you assist your customers with certain difficulties brought up by the pandemic? Can you help clients who are having difficulty bounce back? Don’t be afraid to ask what your customers and clients need, either. Gathering feedback from them can help you respond in a way that’s more effective, rather than simply operating off what you believe to be the truth. This is a new and scary situation for everyone, so finding the solutions together is recommended.

When should you get in touch?

You want your customers to be up-to-date on how your business is operating, any changes to the services and products they recieve, or what you’re doing to help them. However, you also want to make sure that you’re not over communicating. If you’re constantly updating and getting in touch, then it makes it look like your business is in a state of flux, making things seem more chaotic than they may really be. If you haven’t reached out and addressed the pandemic at all, then you need to do it as soon as you can. Then, send updates periodically to address any changes, policies, and actionable information.

Be transparent

You might be tempted to try and find a way to spin the news you’re giving in a way that reflects positively on your business. You can manage the impact of any news you give, but what’s most important is that you are as transparent as possible. If your business is struggling to complete deliveries or find stock due to supply chain disruption, it’s more important that you’re transparent about the facts. Trying to come off as unaffected by the pandemic will ring hollow and the truth will out as part of the customer experience. Get ahead of the news and you can then focus on helping customers manage it. Be ready to deliver bad news just as well as solutions.

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Make yourself available

There are going to be some limitations in how much different companies can do this. If you have had to furlough some of your staff, then you might not be able to man the phones as effectively as possible. However, it’s essential that you show your customers that you’re still here for them. You can set-up a hotline that they can call directly, for instance, or you can use a live website chat that they can just as easily type into. If the amount of time you have to address their questions and concerns is limited, then you should schedule a period of time and make it public that you’re open to answer them during that block.

Reassurance is key

Try to make it clear that you’re doing what you can to help your customers and clients, even when you have to deliver some bad news, such as closing down some of your services or making some products unavailable temporarily. Try to keep the tone relatable, expressing to your consumers that everyone is dealing with this together. They are more likely to permit changes to the business that affect them if they come from the perspective of understanding that you’re facing precisely the same difficulties that they are. Explain any changes to your policy as clearly as you can, while offering what actionable advice you can to help them deal with those changes. Keep the door open for refunds and credits to replace lost goods and services, too.

Go out of your way to reach them

You can update most of your customers through the regular channels, but you have to be aware of the fact that a lot of your customers aren’t going to be in your regular channels. For as many people as have opted into your email marketing campaign, a look at it will show you that rarely do more than half of them read it. As such, if you have a very important update to share, you should be willing to reach them with different platforms. For instance, if your business primarily communicates online, then reaching out via phone, such as with ringless voicemail, can lend the message a certain gravity it might not usually have. People pay attention when you’re taking a different tone or route in your communication.

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Keep them on the safe and right path

One of the unfortunate realities of dealing with a pandemic is that people are more vulnerable and more likely to rely on services that they have never used before. For instance, a lot more people are doing banking, shopping, and a lot more online than they have before. However, this also means that they could be more susceptible to scams because they don’t know the environment as well. Keep an eye and ear out for any scams that are happening in your industry or that might be likely to target your customers. Do the right thing by spreading word of these scams and giving your customers instructions on how to avoid them.

Stay social

It’s a good idea to reach customers in ways they’re not used to being contacted by you, simply to highlight the seriousness of the situation and to make sure that people don’t miss your most important messages. However, a lot of your customers are also going to be spending a lot more time on what is likely to be one of your more frequently used marketing platforms: social media. The social media user base continues to grow and stats show that people are using it a lot more frequently and for longer periods of time during the COVID-19 outbreak. As such, not only is it a good tool for updates, but it can also help you build a rapport and relationship with customers that outlasts the pandemic.

Keep your team in the loop

Members of your team, from sales to support, are going to be a crucial part of carrying out any updates and changes to policies and services within the company. As such, you have to make sure that they are considered and kept in the loop as well. Company-wide emails and other measures to keep everyone informed should be employed before you get the information out to customers. If you have instructions for the sales team on how to handle specific changes, make sure they also get detailed information designed specifically for them, as well. Most importantly, be compassionate with your internal communications, just as you would be with trying to reach your customers.

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Get everyone in on donating

Some businesses thrive on making their customer base feel like a community. If you’re the type of business to have community managers, customer-generated content and the like, then you can go a little extra towards bringing them together in solidarity. Furthermore, you can do it in a way that makes your customers feel like they are doing good. It’s not an uncommon feeling at all that people are experiencing a sense of uselessness. By organizing a donation drive, and perhaps even incentivizing donations with some deal of your own, you can help your customers feel like they are making some sort of difference. You also gain all of the usual benefits of cause marketing to go along with it.

Ask for help when you need it

No-one wants to be in this position, especially if your business is usually in a place of being there for your customers and clients. However, there is no shame, at this point, in asking for some patience or help from your customers. No-one should expect your business to be perfect and, if anything, signs of humanity can be appreciated by your audience more often than not. Asking for help can be done in a way that makes customers feel like they are being helpful and useful. For instance, you can simply ask them to consider making a purchase to help keep your business going. Be sure to sweeten the deal for them with a discount code or the like, and try to avoid coming off as if you are begging.

How businesses handle this pandemic is not going to go ignored by the market at large. Those who are able to keep their customers and clients satisfied and informed are going to win a loyalty that might end up lasting this generation. It’s make or break time, so ensure you’re poised for the former.

 

 

 

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