• 13 Apr 2020

Jonathan Wrait

Businesses do not operate insolation. No matter what business or industry you’re in, you have to be connected to your customers.

In the current environment, this is more important than ever.

Unprecedented circumstances have forced many businesses to close temporarily, and others to transition to running online. Those delivering essential services can continue to operate, albeit under specific guidelines.

Regardless of where your business finds itself, you have a significant opportunity to strengthen your relationships with your customers and clients.

By putting effort into these relationships during the lockdown (and beyond), your business will emerge in much better shape.


We’re all in this together

Often your top customers are the ones you have the best relationship with.

They’re loyal, they’ve been using your products or services for a long time, and they likely refer other people on to you.

In short, they’re a fan of you and your company, and we prefer to do business with the companies and people we like.

As part of his work in discovering the principles of persuasion, psychologist Dr Robert Cialdini investigated what causes someone to like us. One of the factors he found is that we are more inclined to “like” someone with whom we are working towards a mutually beneficial goal.

This is particularly relevant to the current circumstances because the COVID-19 pandemic has affected everyone.

We are, literally, all in this together. 

And, we all have the same goal – eliminate COVID-19 and kickstart our businesses once the lockdown is over.

We can empathise with what our customers are going through because we are too. We can also work with them to get their businesses and lives back on track.

For if our customers are succeeding, our businesses will too – a mutually beneficial outcome.

However, it goes deeper than that. While we’re all broadly looking to achieve the same objective, everyone is still affected by the current situation in different ways. 


Supporting your customers

Your customers will each have unique situations and issues that they’re dealing with due to COVID-19.

Find out what they are. Communication is vital in a relationship, even more so during a crisis. 

You might be able to help them, or you might not. Perhaps you know someone who can.

But, regardless of what they’re dealing with, you can listen.

Business, and even life, can be a lonely place – the isolation and stress imposed by the lockdown, making it more so.

Having a chat with your customers is one of the best things you can do right now.

And, it doesn’t have to be about work. You will have been periodically checking on your family and friends to see how they’re going during this time. Do the same with your customers.

They’ll appreciate it. You’ll also be able to get to know them better.

The more you get to know your customers, and the more they get to know you, the stronger your relationship will be. Also, since you now know more about them, you can identify more opportunities to help. 

So, ask your customers how they’re going.

It goes both ways too. Getting to know you better will mean they’re more likely to support you and your business as well.


Staying in touch

Many businesses have been sending out newsletters and bulk emails to their customers during this time.

This is an excellent way to communicate at scale – keep everyone informed with what your business can do during this time, how you can help them, and provide useful, interesting and valuable content.

You can also use to encourage your customers to reach out if they need help or advice.

Social media is another channel you can employ to reach a wider audience and deliver updates and value.

However, one-to-one communication is essential, as well.

Whether this is through email, text, chat, or picking up the phone, make sure you’re also personally checking in on your customers.

If you have a large customer base, it might not be practical to reach out to everyone, but every person you speak to is another relationship that will be stronger.

So, pull up your database and start communicating.


Don’t stop now you’ve started

Communication and building relationships with your customers is a critical part of setting your business up to recover from the lockdown.

Being there for your customers now will go a long way to ensuring they’ll support you once your business can return to normal.

However, while the current situation has highlighted the importance of these two areas, the truth is relationship building and effective communication have always been critical for business success.

So, if you make building stronger relationships with your customers and clients a focus for the lockdown, don’t stop once the restrictions are lifted.

In addition to greater brand loyalty, better relationships also lead to customers recommending your business to others. 

And, a customer base of raving fans is one of the best marketing channels you can have.

Finally, you and your customers will know each other a whole lot better, and business is much more fun when you’re working with people you like.

Therefore, if you don’t do anything else during the lockdown, make sure you reach out to your customers and see how they’re getting on. You’ll both reap the benefits post-lockdown.