Right now, we are living in a chaotic and uncertain world. As we’ve seen in the media and perhaps even personally, times like this bring out the worst in people. We have all witnessed the behaviours of customers in supermarkets and other shops where people are stripping the shelves bare. People are panicking!
Some clients have asked me why customers behave in this way at times like this. Well I’m not a behavioural scientist, but from what I’m seeing and hearing from the experts, it’s that these are uncertain times. Nobody knows how long this will last and what the full impact will be on themselves, their family, or their community and they have absolutely no control over the unfolding situation. Uncertainty produces fear as people scramble to find safety in their topsy-turvy world. Hoarding supplies makes them feel safer and more secure.
As a result of the uncertainty, customers right now are becoming less tolerant and more reactive, and business has become tougher. So it’s time to start considering whether your customer experience strategy is up to the mark. When this situation passes will you bounce back with your client base and reputation intact?
This is a huge time of change for everyone, and more than ever before now is the time to nurture your customer relationships. You have invested a lot of effort and resources to build them, and you’ll need to ensure your customers stay with you through the good times as well as the bad. Like any relationship, the true measure of whether or not your customers will bounce back with you is how you treat them in these challenging times.
Here are my 4 tips to keep your customers happy by turning the fear into kindness.
- Make it easy.
Now is the time to become easier to deal with, and more flexible. Your customers may be experiencing financial and personal loss, and there could be some things that don’t cost your business much that can really help your customers out during this time. Ask yourself what can you do right now to make life easier for your customers.
- Avoid being a stickler for the rules.
When making a decision, think about what will be more beneficial in the long term for both you and your customer, not just the short term. Be softer with your cancellation fees and refund policies. Give your staff more autonomy to make decisions. Find ways to offer more value to delight your customers.
- Stay calm and listen.
Approach your customers with kindness and calm. When you’re calm, they will be too.
Today I received a telemarketing call…poor timing. If you’re in sales, don’t even think about selling right now. You don’t know what their personal circumstances are and how this crisis is affecting them.
Instead, listen to your customers. Ask questions, like… Are you OK? What you can I do to support you at this time? You could even send out cards or personal notes to your favourite clients to let them know you are thinking of them.
- Reflect, plan and reposition.
If business is quiet, use this time to reflect on what you can do to be of service to your customers. How can you serve them better? Make this a time of review, re-planning, and repositioning. Hold team meetings to come up with ideas. Your customer facing staff will most likely have the ideas already. Change is a time of innovation so collaborate and find some new ways so that when this situation resolves you will be in a much stronger position.
Like everything else the world has been through, this too shall pass. Look after your customers now and when it does pass they will look after you.