Because they typically take a human-first approach to their relationships regardless of the situation. They have empathy. They are solution oriented. They are creative and take action to get things done to help their customers. That’s what makes them great in their role.
Now more than ever, the best business continuity strategy is a human-first one.
Why is that?
Because while the pandemic requires immediate response, and has resulted in quite a bit of unforeseen resistance to conducting business, those organizations that can prove they are true partners with their customers will endear themselves to those customers to foster longer term loyalty in the future - post-pandemic.
There’s a saying and I’m paraphrasing, but it’s something to the extent of, “You know who you can trust when you’re in a fox hole with someone and you both come out alive.”
The idea is that when the going gets tough who is there to help support you through it to brighter days? That’s what your customers are asking. So in this time of crisis customer marketers and related professionals will help themselves best by helping their customers in very human ways.
Here are some ideas:
- To the extent you can, be your customers’ first responders
- As immediately as you can, reach out and empathize with your customers. Help them know that you understand their business and the impact this pandemic is having on their business. Then…
- Make things as frictionless for customers as you’re able
- Figure out how to remove barriers for your customers to help them through this time. It matters less the size of the gesture and more that you’re trying to make their lives and survival a little bit easier.
- Be helpful
- As much as possible, provide useful information, transparency, and solutions that can benefit your customers
- Now is not the time for a hard sell. If you have a solution that can help, consider giving it away for free or at a reduced price. This will serve your brand and marketing efforts well post-pandemic when your customers and their friends shopping for a new, more compassionate vendor like you, start coming around.
What does this look like in practice?
- Do you have an online customer program and/or customer community with discussion boards? This is your immediate, and near real-time, line of communication with your customers. Now is the time to ensure they know you’re there and are with them through this tough time.
- Put out factual information about what’s going on in your organization and in your industry as a result of the pandemic. Share how you and/or others are navigating it with some success.
- Customers will want to understand what is working for others like them. That’s why, via customer communications, community or your customer program, you want to converse with as many customers as possible to understand their perspective about how this pandemic is affecting them, their employees, and their organization’s ability to operate. Gather that feedback and share it internally to figure out what your business can address to offer solutions, remove friction, or simply highlight positive moments customers are having amongst the common issues all seem to be having. Those messages help give context and hope.
- If your organization is able to move rapidly to provide your customers new solutions that will immediately help them continue their operations, consider deploying such a solution now and making it widely available to your customers in an easy-to-use/deployed way.
- Continue to check in, continue to share ideas about business continuity. You’re building trust with your customers. You’re proving to them that they can rely on you in tough times, and that you will forge a new path in a new normal on the other side of this thing, together.
When you listen to your customers, partner with them to provide solutions, and help them be successful (during a pandemic or otherwise), you will earn the loyalty of customers who will not only want to stick with you, but who will want to advocate for you in the long term.
Nick Venturella is the customer marketing and advocacy strategist running the "XOXO customer program" for the human capital management (HCM) cloud software company, Ceridian.