Customer service is about managing relationships. Unfortunately, it’s sometimes about managing crises as well. Knowing how to do both at the same time – strengthening bonds while working through difficult situations – represents a key trait for retaining clients over the long term.
That’s been one of the lessons of the recent coronavirus outbreak. With many industries thrown into disarray by the spread of COVID-19, companies have had to scramble to upgrade their crisis communication skills. They’ve improvised new policies and jerry-rigged expanded video conferencing capabilities, all in an effort to stay connected to their clients during the lockdown.
While this will be crucial for the next few months, it has long-term implications as well. The lessons learned during the coronavirus outbreak can inform future decisions. After all, COVID-19 won’t be the last crisis your company faces. You can take the wisdom earned now to apply to any other emergency that comes along.
With that in mind, here are 5 tips that will help you better communicate with your clients during a crisis:
1. Be Available
Your first step? Availability. Simply be there for your customers. Clients want to know you have their back in a tough situation. Even if your business has been furloughed by a crisis (such as the coronavirus quarantine), your customer-service operation should continue to run. Find a way to take incoming queries and make sure your important customers can speak to you whenever they need to.
Being ready to field incoming concerns represents your first step. However, you need to take the communication plan further. In addition, you should reach out to your clients as well. Establish contact on your own and find out what your customers are thinking. This will let you gather information, elicit feedback, and plan for a post-crisis world.
3. Listen (And Be Ready to Respond)
As they deal with a crisis, your customers will be worried about the future. Take the COVID-19 scenario as an example. With so many businesses teetering on the edge, firms need to secure their supply lines and strategize with their suppliers.
When you contact your customers, listen to their concerns. Take them seriously. Do whatever you can to convince them that you’re able to remain in business for the long-haul, even under the pressures caused by the situation.
4. Rely on Video
This has been a significant lesson from the coronavirus situation, as the quarantine restrictions have robbed us of human contact. Under these conditions, there’s no opportunity for sales calls or power lunches. However, you can offer the next best thing: video conferencing.
When faced with a crisis situation, consider scheduling video conferences with your top clients. It gives you a level of intimacy beyond calls, emails, or texts. Meanwhile, you can include multiple parties in conversations, as well as use graphs and other visual aids in your presentations.
5. Embrace Technology
Video isn’t the only worthwhile tech in an emergency. If you have an app, you can use that as a way to push updates. Or you can create an email newsletter to keep customers informed between one-on-one conversations.
Dealing with a crisis takes poise and ingenuity. Finding employees with these traits can be difficult. However, by partnering with a top-flight staffing agency, like SmartTalent, you increase your ability to find these crisis-ready team members.
Contact SmartTalent today to learn more.