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Keep communicating when you aren't operating

Wednesday 8 April 2020, 2:41PM
By MegaTest
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- A great blog from my Networker Colleage.  Ally Mullord from CTRL +C -

As New Zealand settles uneasily into lockdown, businesses are wondering how to keep communicating with their customers. And they’re right: when it comes to Covid-19 communication, we’ve reached the tricky part. After the initial wave of response emails, we’re now in a weird limbo where there is no ‘right thing to say’ and no guidebook to follow.

In this article we look at how businesses that aren’t currently trading can continue to deliver value, and maintain a connection with their audience.

If you can’t trade, why communicate?

It doesn’t matter whether or not your business is operational: your customers are still out there with the same needs, wants, and worries they’ve always had. While you might not be able to provide your normal products and services, you still have the knowledge and industry experience to provide useful, helpful, and relevant information. 

SO, ASK YOURSELF: WITHOUT PROVIDING MY NORMAL SERVICES, HOW CAN I HELP MY CUSTOMERS OUT? 

Gyms and fitness providers are a great example: they’ve moved quickly to provide online exercise classes and virtual workouts, designed to replicate the experience of going to the gym without a physical gym environment.  What can your business do to continue to meet your customers’ needs?

Some ideas to get you thinking:

If you’re a massage therapist, your regular clients will be missing their weekly dose of relaxation. You could suggest other activities - like meditation or breathing exercises - that provide similar benefits at home.

If you’re a florist, your customers will be missing the splash of colour and joy your flowers bring to their house. Get creative! Make a video teaching flower arranging for beginners, so your customers can raid their gardens and have a go. 

YOUR CUSTOMERS STILL HAVE QUESTIONS - AND YOU CAN STILL ANSWER THEM

What about industries that people can’t pick up in the comfort of their own home - like trades and services or B2B enterprises? For a lot of industries, the Covid-19 lockdown has thrown up a whole lot of new customer questions. 

Think through what your customers might like to know, in this strange new world, and see how much you can answer. 

Some examples to get you thinking:

If you’re a mechanic, find out what happens when a car’s WOF or rego expires during the lockdown period, and let your customers know. It’s information they’ll need, and your business is in the right industry to provide it.

If you’re in IT management, you might not be servicing clients’ offices right now - but you could be helping them to set up their home office, and providing tips to transition to working-from-home.

Real estate agent? You might not be going to open homes, but you can let your clients know how the lockdown affects whether they can buy, sell, or list property. Once you’ve done that, send them some information about things they can do now, so that as soon as the lockdown lifts they can get their house on the market.

And yes, there is an elephant in the room. You’re unlikely to make any money right now by sending these emails and keeping in touch with your customers. 

That’s ok. By keeping in touch, you’re doing three important things:

You’re helping your customers out, by providing the information they need in a convenient and friendly way.

You’re positioning your business as a helpful, caring, and consistent presence during a time of uncertainty.

You’re maintaining an important line of communication, and letting customers know you’re available for any questions, concerns, or feedback - which you can then put into practice once we’re out of isolation.

I’d love to hear your feedback on how you’re communicating with customers at the moment, and answer any questions - leave a comment or drop me a line: ally@ctrlc.co.nz - www.ctrlc.co.nz