There is no doubt that COVID has significantly affected the lives of most people in one way or another. Consequently, millions of people feel isolated and have experienced some hardship and loss during the course of the COVID outbreak. Since times of crisis make people more vulnerable, it is important to remember that excellent customer interaction is essential during this global pandemic.
“Particularly in times of crisis, a customer’s interaction with a company can trigger an immediate and lingering effect on his or her sense of trust and loyalty. As millions are furloughed and retreat into isolation, a primary barometer of their customer experience will be how the businesses they frequent and depend upon deliver experiences and service that meet their new needs with empathy, care and concern.”1
While isolating and social distancing have created major challenges for connecting and maintaining business relationships or cultivating new ones, there are strategies that can help you show customers that you care. These simple steps can help you connect and build the trust crucial to sustaining and cultivating valued business relations.
Since many people are hurting for human interaction, any small attempt to let them know that you care will go a long way. Here are some strategies that experts say will help safeguard customer relationships and help businesses through these challenging times.
1. Humanize Your Company:
According to the Harvard Business Review, humanizing your company can play a major role in ensuring important business relationships during COVID. Experts from Harvard recommend letting consumers know that your company understands the difficult circumstances surrounding their lives and businesses during these times. It is very important to communicate that you care about more than simply reaping profit while people are struggling. Empathizing with those affected by COVID and sharing steps you have used to help your customers, employees and business operations is a way to show you care.2 Social media sites, customer emails, and virtual meetings are great vehicles for communicating empathy and showing others your human side.
2. Care for Your Customers:
McKinsey.com recommends reaching out. However, this does not mean reaching out with marketing or attempts to sell; it means offering genuine support. Helping your customers in any manner during these difficult times can provide comfort now and have a major impact on the health and longevity of your business relationships in the future.3 Remember that people are hurting for human interaction, so make a phone call or send a card or a gift. A small gesture during difficult times will not only help someone feel better, it will also help improve or maintain a relationship.
3. Communicate More with Customers:
Deloitte recommends staying in touch with customers more than ever before even if they are buying fewer goods and services. This will help maintain the relationship for better times.4
Sometimes an email just isn’t enough! While it’s not safe to get together, you can definitely pick up the telephone or have a video-conference so people can see your facial expressions. During these times of isolation, a more social type of video-conference might be better a better option at times instead of another virtual business meeting. A more social and friendly “Zoom Happy Hour” or “Zoom Wine Tasting” could be just what’s needed. These events are simple to host, and they will help people feel connected and appreciated.
Remember that transparency generates trust. Everyone is going through something right now. So conversations about what your business has gone through and the steps you’ve taken to help get through this pandemic, will open dialogues that will help customers relate and trust you. You may also provide them with just the right nugget of wisdom they need to succeed!
So get creative! Find small ways to show your customers you care now for a large impact on your relationships in the future.
1. Adapting customer experience in the time of coronavirus, McKinsey.com
2. Ensure that Your Customer Relationships Outlast Coronavirus, hbr.org
3. Adapting customer experience in the time of coronavirus, McKinsey.com
4. Maintaining customer loyalty and trust during times of uncertainty, 2.deloitte.com