The coronavirus is rapidly infiltrating every corner of the globe, and, in its wake, life as we know it has been turned upside down. Businesses are boarding up, grocery stores are cleared out, and countless communities worldwide have been ordered to stay home. Even companies and organizations that run solely online are having to adapt to the circumstances. With so much change and uncertainty, how do we engage with customers effectively in this unprecedented time?
Keeping First Things First During the Coronavirus
Good customer engagement is never just about making a profit—it’s about meeting needs, educating, and adding genuine value to customers’ lives. While this coronavirus world is new to all of us, these fundamental ideals of customer engagement should not be sacrificed as we adapt.
Now, perhaps more than ever, customers need a friend they can trust, information they can count on, and hope to override this fearful situation. By displaying wisdom, empathy, and concern for your customers (and your employees!), your company or organization is sure to come out on the other side of this pandemic with loyal advocates and an inspiring story to tell.
Let’s look at five ways to engage with customers sensitively and creatively during the coronavirus.
1. Make a video about your plan and concern for the coronavirus situation.
As you implement changes to your daily operations, make sure customers know your plan and your heart behind it. A video can convey both these things in a short amount of time and can be shared on multiple platforms to reach as many customers as possible.
This video doesn’t need to be fancy—the idea is simply to connect with customers on a human level and show that you are there for them. Have a staff member jump on camera to share what people can expect and why you’re making changes (e.g. to keep everyone safe while still meeting customer needs). Make sure to express empathy for everyone whose lives have changed drastically. It’s a common catchphrase these days, but we really are all in this together. Aim to build trust with customers in this time by showing that you care and that they can confidently continue doing business with you.
To get your video in front of most people, try sharing it on all social media channels, email it to your subscribers, and embed it on your website.
2. Create a social media or email campaign with tips for handling the coronavirus.
Even if you’re not in the health and wellness industry, there are still plenty of ways to use your area of expertise to join the coronavirus conversation. Brainstorm ideas for educating and helping customers cope with their new reality in a manner that’s relevant to your industry.
Some good topic examples might be tips to stay healthy, combatting fear and anxiety, productivity tips for working at home, how to save money on food, etc. After choosing a topic, make a plan to break up your content into social or email campaign segments so that customers can keep receiving relevant information from you throughout this unique season.
3. Give customers the chance to contribute to coronavirus relief efforts.
People are loyal to businesses that share their same values. A study by Cone Communications on corporate social responsibility (CSR) states that “87% [of Americans] will purchase a product because a company advocated for an issue they cared about.” While the coronavirus rages on, you can use your business platform to connect with customers on the common ground of helping where you can.
Start by choosing a cause or organization that’s doing coronavirus relief work and make a plan to give, perhaps donating a percentage of your sales to that cause. Then, spread the word via social media, email, and on your website. Let customers know that they can partner with you in giving. There are tons of organizations and causes to donate to right now, but here are some options to look into:
- Samaritan’s Purse Emergency Field Hospital
- Feeding America Food Bank
- Your local homeless shelter (find it through the Homeless Shelter Directory)
- GlobalGiving’s Coronavirus Relief Fund
4. Offer deals and discounts on your goods or services.
As everyone adjusts to this new normal, people are looking for companies and organizations that are willing to adapt and lend a helping hand. While budgets are tight in this unpredictable economy, offering deals and discounts right now can benefit both you and your customers. You may not be getting top dollar for your goods or services, but this strategy can keep you making sales while continuing to provide customers with what they need. Whether you’re in the B2C or B2B world, offering deals is an act of kindness that will earn grateful, loyal advocates of your business—a move that will pay dividends in the future.
5. Check in with customers to remind them that you care.
Knowing that someone else is thinking about your wellbeing brings both comfort and confidence, and you can give that to customers now by checking in on them. If you have a small list of clients, try sending a personal email or making a phone call to ask how they’re doing and if they need anything. If you have thousands of customers, you could send out an email that reiterates your dedication to their good and asks for their feedback and questions. These simple acts will speak volumes to customers that you care and can be trusted to look out for them even in uncertain times.
This Too Shall Pass—Keeping the Future in Mind
One more thing: once this pandemic finally fades into memory, make sure you have a solid plan for getting back on track with business as usual. Keep communication with customers clear and frequent as you transition back to normalcy, and leverage the trust and relationships you’ve built during this time. The coronavirus will indelibly leave its mark on all of us, but we can decide if it sets us back or propels us forward into a more compassionate, resourceful, and bright future for our businesses.
© Joshua Brown 2020, all rights reserved