21st Apr 2020
During this time of change, virtually all of us are having to adapt how we work. It is vitally important we continue engaging with customers - both internal and external ones - to keep the customer relationship going.
We should be proactive and ambitious in reassuring our customers via whatever channels we know will reach them. Even small interactions with customers become hugely important at a time like this, so we need to consider how best to achieve it. In a recent media statement, our CEO, Jo Causon said:
"How organisations respond over the coming months will be remembered by customers and employees for years to come. As we have seen time and time again, in difficult times, these are the real moments of truth – and when we emerge from this, the organisations that have connected with customers in an authentic way will be rewarded with ongoing loyalty."
Engaging with your internal customers – keeping the relationship going
Ensure your workforce is informed of ongoing developments inside and outside of your organisation (including any changes to policy and process, the latest government advice, and your organisation's response). This will help to ensure colleagues are best placed to engage with customers and continue to build trust and long-lasting relationships.
However, is there anything else for which we should prepare? And what advice can we share with our internal customers and other organisations? Are we planning for the short-, medium- and long-term? Are we thinking about the footprint we are leaving and how that will reflect on us in the next six months? Hard as it is, we must have one eye on the current situation, and one eye on the future.
Organisations need to be consistent in their approach to how they communicate internally so that they can reach customer touch-points across the entire business. This will help ensure colleagues and front-line staff are best placed to continue to deliver services, as well as any changes to services, thereby maintaining a strong and positive relationship with customers.
Providing a consistent, reliable service is incredibly important, and there is an absolute need to deliver a brilliant service in these challenging times. Engaging with your internal customers will enable you to go above and beyond to maintain a positive customer relationship. For example:
To think about:
Engaging with your external customers – keeping the relationship going
Are you thinking about what your customers might be going through, and how your product or service could help them with that? What are you doing to verify this/find out?
It is important to communicate clearly honestly and transparently, so there are no surprises for your customers. This will help keep the customer relationship alive, and continue to build trust; it is also an opportunity to test the real quality of your service. A 'moment of truth'!
Knowing your customers well will pay dividends in the future. So think about which of your customers will need additional support or require flexibility in how you operate and communicate with them (especially with vulnerable customers). Some organisations are offering advice on managing through difficult times or thinking differently about what they are doing for whom, and when. These gestures of support at a critical moment in customers' lives won't be soon forgotten and will help maintain a deeper relationship long into the future.
To think about:
Great relationships can be maintained and strengthened during this challenging period, but not without thought and effort. A key component is two-way communication and understanding of each other's position.
It is about helping customers see how relevant your service is to them at this time or adapting it if necessary. Being of value in good and bad times will lead to longer-term engagement and, ultimately, much higher lifetime value.