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As the world reels from the events of the last few weeks and we find ourselves learning how to navigate our strange new existence, it’s important that companies try to maintain some semblance of normalcy with their clients.
As the length of time for required social distancing increases, it’s natural that people may begin to experience anxiety and depression. We can’t leave the house, people are working from home en masse, services that are always open are closed indefinitely, we can’t socialize or even meet our family and friends, and our health care system is being stretched to the absolute max. Everything that was familiar to us is now unfamiliar.
Our world has changed and it’s unlikely to bounce back to exactly what it was before. The year 2020 will be a major moment in history that future generations will study for decades to come, and we don’t yet understand what the true economic fallout of COVID-19 will be. That unease, anxiety, fear, and grief we are feeling about the future is also shared by people and companies all around the world. For this reason it’s important to maintain normal client communication best practices to ensure you stay engaged with clients and their businesses during this period of social distancing.
So what can companies do to help their clients and customers as we all navigate these unprecedented times? Here are 5 ways that we can continue to not only engage with clients, but also add genuine value so that everyone has a better chance of coming out as strong as possible.
It’s okay to deviate from the normal topics of conversation you have with your clients and acknowledge the seriousness, and surrealness, of this pandemic. What we are experiencing is unprecedented and it's understandable that people will be feeling overwhelmed. You can use this time as an opportunity to check in with your clients and get to know them on a more personal level. Your clients are likely to remember the people that were there for them when times were hard, so ultimately your relationships could end up being stronger than ever. Do what you would do with your friends and family - set up a virtual lunch or coffee and be transparent about the request. Let them know it’s okay if they have more pressing matters to attend to, but if they’re open to it you are there to check in on both them and their business and also to share your own updates.
Support your clients throughout this period of uncertainty however you can. Whether that’s providing free resources, implementing weekly check in calls, sharing contacts from other companies, or planning strategy sessions to get ready for when business eventually ramps up, there is ample opportunity to ensure your clients feel supported during this time of crisis. If there’s something that your company is doing to get through these initial weeks of uncertainty, perhaps your clients will find it valuable as well. If you’ve done #1 right, you’ll have an idea of what their real challenges are today. Help solve them. Lean into your own network. Your clients will remember the extra effort you made when it really mattered.
Companies have a responsibility to communicate with their clients and make them feel informed and valued, even in the midst of something as chaotic as a global pandemic. Update your clients as soon as you know something has changed and keep communication regular, informative, and consistent. Don’t give them the opportunity to ask what your plans are - provide them with updates as soon as you have them so they can feel as secure as possible. The daily situation continues to evolve very quickly during this pandemic so it’s okay for your company plans to change as well. Make sure that you let your clients know that you’re acting on the most recent information you have and that you will continue to update them as the situation develops.
For the most part, our daily routines have been completely uprooted over the last month as we adjust to working from home and communicating remotely instead of in person. Psychologists and mental health professionals suggest that striving to follow a familiar routine as much as possible can help to ease anxiety and increase the feeling of being in control (even if we can’t control the situation around us). If you have a set meeting time each week that you talk to your clients, stick to it. Even if you don’t have anything new to discuss, checking in with them at the same time each week can help everyone maintain some degree of normalcy.
Now’s the time to be proactive and prepare for what’s to come. Use this period of social distancing to re-evaluate future plans and goals with your clients, and plan how you can be there to support them when this is over. When the threat from coronavirus has finally abated, the world will be significantly changed, and it’s unlikely to bounce back quickly. Your clients will continue to need your support as the world recovers from the physical, mental and economic impact of COVID-19, and you navigate the next months and years together.
During these weeks and months of uncertainty, we have the opportunity to re-evaluate our strategies and plan for the eventual ramp up that will happen when we get out the other side of this pandemic. Events and experiential marketing will rebound and there is likely to be a surge when people can gather in groups again, so now is the time to make sure you are ready. You can use this time to not only plan for your own future, but to help your clients plan for their future.
If you would like to discuss more ways to keep your clients engaged, you can get in touch with us here.