Even in the current crisis, the fundamental rules of the game haven’t changed. You still need to keep your target market’s evolving wants and needs at the front and center of your focus. Last week, we explored how the people within your organization will remember your leadership during this crisis. This week we’ll look at an equally important set of stakeholders – our customers.
They, too, are at home in isolation. We know that our customers, like ourselves, are perhaps lacking the excitement of fresh and new experiences. What better time to connect and engage with them in ways that can excite and inspire?
Present Focus: Maintaining Connection
As is the case with your employees, the top priority with your customers must be maintaining contact and authentic connection, in the face of a pandemic that directly challenges our traditional ways of engaging with each other. With so many contact centres and servers currently unreachable, a little genuine engagement can go a long way.
All communication must provide actual value. While it seems obvious, enough companies are making this mistake that it bears repeating. First, let’s start out with what is not valuable —
A generic push using the pandemic. Everyone is very short on time in a crisis and no one needs another email lamenting the general state of affairs or even your heartfelt belief that we will persevere. The reality is that in the very best case, these types of communications are deleted with very little impact. Worst case though, your organization ends up on a growing set of naughty lists for tone-deaf brands.
Overcommunication is also not valuable and can annoy even the most loyal customers. If your business were navigating a crisis on its own, the advice would likely be to overcommunicate with your customers for the sake of transparency. However, as we are ALL dealing with the effects of the pandemic, practicalities insist that we all be extremely efficient and choiceful in our communications. Limit communications to those containing actionable updates or insights.
Here is what is valuable:
Present Focus: Support They’ll Remember
Carve out time for creativity
Our natural tendency will be to focus on our time-strapped teams who are hamstrung by working from home. If, however, we can shift our mindset to viewing the pandemic as an opportunity to excel in the service to your customers, we can start to turn the corner. Brainstorm with your teams on how you might be able to go above-and-beyond to deliver and delight in the face of the crisis. The act of even carving out time to think about this will lift moods and generate momentum.
Differentiate your freebies
If you are considering offering some of your services or products for free, keep in mind that you are not the only company with this idea. Make sure to differentiate your offer and also provide the necessary guidance and support to your customers to make it valuable. All too often we see companies offering a free trial of their software or services, but without accompanying support in implementation and strategy, these offers don’t hold much value.
Future Focus: Evolving the relationship
A lot is still unknown, but one thing is certain: a crisis of this magnitude will create a shift in the preferences and expectations of individuals. Right now your conversations with your customer are likely focused on the now and how you get through the hardest part of this journey. But leaders must also start getting ready for the NEXT conversation with their customers. This is the conversation that happens once the dust has begun to settle. You have an opportunity, now, to ready yourself for that conversation and to show that you’ve been thinking carefully about their business.
This means investing time NOW in:
How has your customer’s landscape changed? How have their needs changed as a result?
What role can you play in helping them to adapt? Keep in mind – this role may not be something you would have even considered prior to the crisis!
If we’ve learned anything, every company and the services they offer will need to become more resilient to bumps in the road. How can you evolve your products or services accordingly?
Anundhita Roy wrote recently in the Financial Times that this crisis can in fact be “a portal” to a new paradigm – a chance for humans to “break with the past and imagine their world anew”. Take this opportunity to look closely at your customers’ evolving needs. What should you abandon? What offerings should you double down on?
“We can choose to walk through this, dragging (…) our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us. Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it.”