By Blake Morgan for Forbes
The coronavirus pandemic has cast a cloud of uncertainty over the globe, cost millions of people their jobs and pushed the economy into a recession.
But for most of the world, life goes on—albeit in a new and uncertain way. And although many consumers might not be making as many purchases, those relationships with brands are still important. Customers are still looking for a sense of certainty and connection, and that often comes from the brands they love.
Here are five ways to stay connected with customers during uncertain times.
Be Transparent. Everyone is in the same boat these days. It doesn’t help to pretend your company is above the crisis. Be transparent about the choices your company is making, especially if you are faced with difficult challenges like having to lay off employees or close stores. Customers will likely understand your decisions, but be open and transparent and don’t make excuses.
Be Available. Your goal should always be to make customers lives easier, and that’s especially true during a crisis. Work harder so that your customers don’t have to. Go to customers where they are. If people are on social media, bolster your social media presence. If the crisis has people watching the news more or using certain apps, use those channels to connect with customers. Have channels open for feedback and responses. It’s not a one-sided conversation, and stressful and uncertain times can bring out the need in people to connect and share, even if it’s with a customer service employee. Have resources in place to be that steady support system for your customers.
Be Respectful. These are difficult times for many people, so be respectful of the uncertainty, stress and worry your customers are likely experiencing. If the majority of your customers are out of work or facing reduced hours, it probably isn’t the best time to push a big sale and expect them to make large purchases. Be sympathetic to their needs, acknowledge the pain and use the right tone to be respectful.
Be Generous. Do what you can to spread positivity and make an impact for good. Be generous with your time and resources, especially when your customers are struggling and possibly out of work. Make a donation to a charity, give back to customers by lowering prices or providing rebates or turn your facilities into something that benefits the community. Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, businesses of all sizes have shown their generosity, from large companies shifting manufacturing to produce in-demand items to small local restaurants donating food to healthcare professionals. Do what you can to help, no matter how big or small. Your kind actions won’t go unnoticed.
Be Positive But Real. There’s enough negativity and bad news in the world, and your company doesn’t need to add to it. Be positive when communicating with customers and try to bring some brightness to their day. However, don’t sugarcoat things or come across as being falsely sweet. Customers appreciate authenticity, so try to strike the balance between being positive while still being genuine.
Customer experience doesn’t go away during a crisis, but it should evolve. Even during these stressful and uncertain times, take time to connect with customers. Building honest and authentic relationships during times of trouble can lead to loyal, long-term customer relationships.
Blake Morgan is a keynote speaker and the author of the bestselling book The Customer Of The Future. Listen to her podcast The Be Your Own Boss Podcast, here.