Many customers have fallen out of the habit of doing business; no small thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic. As such, they have not interacted with companies and their employees for some time.
Granted, in this age of the internet and social media, companies can still keep in contact with their customers to an extent. However, that is only one channel by which communication remains established. A successful business communicates on multiple channels to ensure an engaged customer base. Now is the time to reconnect!
Front-line employees who work with customers have the best opportunity to rebuild relationships that were put on hold while people hunkered down throughout the coronavirus.
“There’s no mistake about it; COVID-19 has devastated certain business sectors, and many would-be buyers, customers, and donors are hurting. In times like these, a little empathy can go a long way and have lasting effects. After all, we will come out of this eventually, and when we do, people will remember who was kind and who was cruel. With a little bit of effort, you can up your empathy game and ability to connect with others,” said Kate Zabriskie, president of Business Training Works, Inc.
When attempting to re-establish a relationship with the customer base, Zabriskie has a few suggestions:
For better or worse, the world has changed. You cannot just pick up where you left off with many customers. Be prepared to acknowledge and talk about how their business life has changed. Businesses cannot assume that their customers are in the same boat they were in before the pandemic. Ask about their current situation and how you can help.
Don’t be pushy
Call to check, not to sell. More importantly, try to offer customers something free or valuable to help them navigate business or life. If you check in, offer something of real value and avoid selling; you will gain trust and rebuild the stalled relationship.
Customers are taking the initiative to reconnect. However, many have become more price sensitive. Keep options open and offer customer choices. Some customers will come right out and tell you they can’t afford something. Others may feel too proud or believe that their finances are none of your business. It is best to work with the finance department to help get customers what they need.
Every customer has a different circumstance. Some are worse off than others during the pandemic. Give them some extra time to explain their issues, answer your questions, complain, choose, etc. Then use empathy to connect. A little generosity on the company’s part can turn an otherwise bas situation around.
Zabriskie heavily recommends getting rid of any response templates or canned answers that you might have. The last thing a customer wants to see now in a post-Covid environment is some generic, copy-pasted corporate template that doesn’t help their situation. Instead, think about what’s bothering or concerning your customers. Then either talk with them, acknowledging and working with those new concerns or creating new scripts for conversations, email, chat, text, etc.