Question to the DL: Since this whole COVID broke, my whole business has slowed down. A face-to-face conversation was the best way for us to get new customers which is not possible right now. What do we do?
Disaster Lady Answer: The easy answer to the question is to move to video conferencing. Easy right? Everyone is doing it right now. While that may be true, it is far from easy. Suddenly taking a business that thrives on face-to-face contact and turning it into an online business overnight is not easy.
While it might start with getting a subscription to an online service such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams, that is just the beginning. Your business now needs a communication strategy for its new outreach model. That strategy needs to focus on changing the relationship with the customer. But this is just regular marketing, right? Wrong. People may have a tolerance for marketing and even some fluff during the best of times.
During a disaster, the tolerance goes away and stuff gets “real” very fast. Folks need to cut all B.S. from the conversation. In retaining (and maybe expanding) clients during a disaster, what you need to do is to focus on changing the conversation and that will ultimately change the relationship. Get to the point. Be accurate. Communicate often. Check in to see how they are doing and not just sell something. Build the relationship.
You need to CARE:
Communicate clearly and get to the point (no fluff allowed but appreciation for them is always good). Why are you interrupting them during a crisis? How are you going to ease their recovery burden with your service?
Always focus on taking their pain away. During a crisis people are focused on getting what they need first and what they want second. They are in pain, so how are you and your business going to take that away and meet their need?
Repeat often. You got one COVID-19 email out to your customers. Congratulations, but that isn’t enough. They need to hear from you more now than ever on multiple channels, but it has to be of value. People going through a crisis have what is called diminished capacity. That means that they need to hear from you at least 3+ times before the message even starts to sink in during a disaster. You finally got their attention – now make it worth their time.
Expect to flex. Do you need to flex your communication or services to address a pain point? Didn’t want to do a delivery portion of your service before – flex to meet the need and start deliveries. Want them to pay for a service before you show up? – flex to meet the need and consider billing NET30.