Building Customer Relationships in the Changing World
By: Natalia Rudinskaya - Janus Worldwide
21 May 2020
...In a small German town there was an elderly man, who provided for his family by running a small farm produce shop. Then one day, he was told to close for the quarantine. His family would have become deprived of its only income source if he hadn’t taken a picture of every item and posted them online. He gave a short description of the goods, asked buyers to only call him via video chat, and showed them everything in the minutest detail. This approach turned out to be successful, and he sold a month’s stock of goods in just two days. It may seem that there is nothing special about this story, but for this man, it was a breakthrough, as he had never worked for an online store before.
Self-isolation is a time to develop - to not only reconsider your personal values, but also look for a new approach to working with clients. Let’s talk about how to win over clients now, understand their mindset, and transform together with them.
We used to think about working with clients from the perspective of building customer loyalty by increasing internal work efficiency. We discussed ways to automate processes, properly promote services, correctly conduct correspondence, and hold meetings and negotiations. Now all of this seems to have happened in another life, as the coronavirus pandemic and self-isolation regime have instantly changed the picture. We are all in a confined space, communicate only with our nearest and dearest, and don’t have any conferences or even business meetings. Everyone is on their own and in their own world. Some suffer from loneliness in a single-room flat, and others struggle with relatives of all ages, having to work, play with children and talk to grandparents at the same time. And it should be noted that clients are people, too. They are also experiencing a lack of physical activity and are often forced to change their habits, pace and lifestyle. That’s why we need to try to be psychologists for today’s clients, understand the meaning of everything that happens and properly recognize the pressure of the financial instability and uncertainty they are under. Let’s be creative, show some care and personalize our approach to every client, as that German man we were talking about did.
One of the largest global PR agencies has conducted a consumer behavior survey, and 12,000 respondents highlighted that they want a service provider or a goods supplier to admit when there is a problem. We shouldn’t keep secret how complex the situation is, and should definitely look for ways to support clients by offering special terms and conditions that focus not on the unique character of our services, but on overcoming specific challenges they face today.
Clients will surely appreciate it if we create an environment as close as possible to real-life communication, and for instance, not only employ audio, but also enable videoconferencing during our online meetings. Doing this, it is important to mirror the client and avoid being pushy – if it is inconvenient for them to speak on the phone or turn the video on, don’t do it. Remember that we are in similar situations, and it might be a good idea to lighten the mood and inspire a sense of belonging, so small talk before discussing a business matter takes on an especially important role. If you find out a client’s work/life balance has been disrupted and that because of this they don’t know how and when to work out, it would be nice to recommend a user-friendly online platform with a trainer you like. In creating an emotional connection and getting to know each other better, you build a solid foundation for a completely different relationship based on trust.
When it comes to the pandemic and economic situation, we can’t shy away from the financial aspect of client relations. However, what takes the central stage is how you present yourself and whether you understand the shift in the client’s shopping priorities. Dialing back sales communication is a trend now, and the key to maintaining clients’ confidence in you. You may be lowering your margins, offering clients voluntary assistance, or letting them pay their outstanding bills in installments. Everything that helps them through this difficult time will definitely be appreciated, especially if your competitors or providers of other services are turning a blind eye to the crisis and going after personal gain.
As we are forming a new customer experience, we are building new communication strategies. And since technologies allowing remote working with various services are coming to the forefront, we can use all our knowledge to create a safe environment for creating any new client experience. You can help them understand how a platform for online meetings works or even become a volunteer moderator, or find useful web links for them and share some business literature. You don’t necessarily have to do something directly connected with your main business. Just subtly provide a client advice and let them feel that it is you who made it possible for them to gain a new experience. This approach attaches clients to you and creates a 25 frame effect, making them think of you as a reliable person and supplier.
In conclusion, it is obviously worth emphasizing that we are standing on the threshold of a new world and building it at the same time. Our business success directly depends on the optimistic message we send our clients. Today, it is important to keep the feeling of belonging and togetherness, be visible, form new communication patterns, solve the problems of society, and of course, be flexible and adapt with the changing environment.
The article uses material by Edelman: