As it appeared in the Daily Nation on April 7th 2020
Dr. Lucy Kiruthu
For many in business, the last three weeks have been different. Business leaders have juggled many balls hoping that none crushes too soon. It remains an extremely challenging time for most in business yet an opportunity for some. The war against COVID-19 will likely be won. However, it remains uncertain how soon this will be. Despite the happenings, it is more important than ever before for businesses to stay connected with their customers. How are you maintaining customer connections at this time?
Forming a strong connection with our customers and maintaining it is crucial. Do you know who your customers are? Do you have their contact information? For many businesses, having a clean database is the starting point of maintaining customer connections. Today, it is not enough to know the customer’s name and telephone number. Their physical address, email address and social media contacts are equally important. These customers may be individuals or other businesses. If businesses, know who the contact persons are and their roles. For some businesses in the mass market, their customers are the public or a section of it. It must be clear to every business who their existing and potential customers are.
Having customer connections means that you have built strong relationships with your customers. Relationships are based on trust, which develops over time. Every past interaction you have had with your customers may have built or eroded the trust. If you are in essential services, your customers expect that you continue to serve them. Make high-demand items available, serve them professionally and let them know that you are taking precautionary measures. This is the time to make it easy for your customers to do business with you. Let customers know how to stay in touch and receive the help needed. Quite recommendable that some businesses that did not have online stores and deliveries have made that happen.
If your operations have been disrupted, your customers must be informed. Determine which communication channels to use, how often to communicate and what to include in the updates. Streamlining both internal and external communications becomes vital. Internally, staff must know major decisions that affect the business. Externally, customers and suppliers need to be made aware of the changes made. For example, customers want to know if the communication channels have changed or other changes that will affect them. It is important to share crucial information with customers directly via email or text and to post updates on your website and social media channels. As you share updates, do not bombard customers with too many messages. If you have a few customers, consider calling them too.
Finally, staying in touch with customers if only to find out how they are doing and how they are coping with the pandemic is the right thing to do. In the process of the courtesy call, find out what support they may need from you or get feedback on what you have done well and what needs to improve. Further, resolve outstanding issues and seek creative ways of serving your customers now and in the future. Customers will remain vital to business survival. Stay connected!
Dr. Lucy Kiruthu is a Management Consultant and Trainer. Connect via twitter @KiruthuLucy