Now, engaging your customers is even more challenging than it was before COVID-19. People are quarantined, forced to work home and avoid gatherings and crowds. The challenge – how can you adapt to these changes and keep in touch with your customers? Here are ways to be human in a virtual and distanced world.
This year surprised us with COVID-19. The world that we’re always used to – the daily grind, commute and hectic lives – seems to have been recalibrated and set to a slow mode.
And admittedly, many of us were unaware of terms like social distancing and quarantine until governments imposed these strict protocols in an attempt to prevent further spread of the virus.
The world we’re living in now is far from the normal that we’ve been used to all our lives.
But as modern humans, our brains help us adapt to change – adjust and move forward! That’s what makes us different from our ancestors (at least speaking of brain evolution).
According to Rick Potts, director of the Human Origins Program at the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History, “Our brains are essentially social brains.”
This means we naturally have a need to create, share and pass on knowledge. It also means we are capable of adjusting to new situations…. Like this pandemic. Thanks to our ability to think creatively and our will to survive (as humans do), we embrace this new normal despite how difficult it may be.
The pandemic slowed down business operations; some permanently closed.
Yelp’s research reveals 72,842 companies have gone out of business for good due to COVID-19 based on this article. The good news is that, according to Yelp’s latest report, there has recently been a decrease in business closures.
None of us want to be part of statistics about businesses closing due to COVID-19.
Now again, the question: Virtual and distanced, how can your company keep in touch with customers and strengthen relationships? Keep in mind, our brains can adapt to change.
Here are human and creative ways to be high touch even in a low touch world.
Keep communication lines open
How you perform for and treat your employees, partners and customers will be remembered now and for years to come.
Reflect and think of valuable ways to offer the support that your stakeholders and teams need to feel secure.
An example of this would be holding a meeting with your teams, listening to them and seeking their feedback.
It is also at this difficult time that customers want to hear from the brands that they know and trust. You can keep in touch with them through sending weekly updates, sharing tips, and thanking them for their continued business.
Founder of SCG, a communications firm, Patrick Strother said that brands will be judged for a long time by how they behave in this pandemic, according to a TIME article.
And in these difficult times, businesses shouldn’t prioritize profit over their customers.
After all, real strength comes from helping others.
For example, the Los Angeles Unified School District works towards providing childcare to essential workers and free meals to families with ISD students and holding fundraisers.
Zoom lifted its 40-minute restriction on free Basic accounts for K-12 schools, including India and Australia.
Oracle is also offering free access to “Workforce Health and Safety” to its Oracle Human Capital Management Cloud customers until this pandemic ends.
With all these efforts, companies can show empathy in the current situation and ensure customers that they’re ready to offer a helping hand. These humanized, customer-centric approaches and attitudes will be remembered long after COVID-19.
Think outside the box.
Face-to-face interactions with your customers may not be possible with the ongoing social distancing guidelines, but you can brainstorm ways to get creative and still interact with them.
If you’re a fitness center owner, you and your fitness instructors can create workout videos, which you can upload to your social media channels.
If you own a bakery, you can create videos on how to bake cakes, pastries and other treats and upload videos on your YouTube channel.
The point is, offer value whenever you can and make customers feel that you’re still a brand they can trust and reach out to. This will show them that your business and the humans that run it are empathetic to their needs.
Many of us have more time on our hands, and what better way to spend it than reaching out to the community? It will not just promote your business naturally but also continue to serve your local customers.
For example, you can organize fundraisers, provide meals or offer free rides to frontliners.
At the end of the day, volunteering is an excellent way to use your time while strengthening customer relationships. It can affirm to your customers that you’re committed to your community in this pandemic.
Care for employees
Happy employees = happy customers. Keep your employees well-equipped, happy and healthy. When they are, they will want to do even better work when they feel assured that the business they work for truly cares about their wellbeing.
Take steps to help your employees adjust and make going to work more enjoyable and less stressful.
Other helpful ways to stay in touch:
Ask customers about their concerns and their journey, as these two things go hand-in-hand. Listen to what they’re saying on social media. Check for the issues they are posting about and look for those that you can address.
Update your website’s knowledge base, or create one if your website doesn’t have it yet.
Implement a live chat support to respond to customer queries quickly.
Use Zoom or Facebook to host virtual events and connect with customers. For instance, brokers host virtual happy hours to invite past clients and ask questions.
Or, think about hosting upcoming webinars, online games or concerts if you’re an artist.
Supply customers with instructional and valuable content (like short diet and fitness eBooks, if you work in the fitness industry). You can also share links to free and useful resources, which will add value to their lives.
Create polls or ask questions on social media to engage customers. You can also answer questions and offer advice.
Human connections fuel every aspect of your business, even in this digital age. Customers are full of emotions – they are humans, not machines. Now is the time for businesses to figure out how to operationalize and reinvent how to do business in an unknown territory. But in the meantime, you should keep connecting to your customers because what you do today will be remembered and cherished for years to come.
Should you need help or wish to know more about humanizing a brand, send me a message.
May this serve as a message of hope that being human may very well be the best silver lining to all of our current vicissitudes.
In love and respect,
Founder & CEO, Corna Partners