Customer Experience News & Trends

6 ways to reconnect with customers

Many customers are out of the habit of doing business. They haven’t interacted with companies – and their employees – for some time. Now it’s time to reconnect. 

Front-line employees who work with customers have the best opportunity to rebuild relationships that were put on hold while people hunkered down throughout the coronavirus.

“There’s no mistake about it; COVID-19 has devastated certain business sectors, and many would-be buyers, customers, and donors are hurting,” says Kate Zabriskie, president of Business Training Works, Inc. “In times like these, a little empathy can go a long way and have lasting effects. After all, we will come out of this eventually, and when we do, people will remember who was kind and who was cruel. With a little bit of effort, you can up your empathy game and ability to connect with others.”

When customers contact you – or you reach out to them to reconnect or reestablish the relationship – Zabriskie suggests these timeless connection strategies:

No. 1: Recognize change

You can’t just pick up where you left off with many customers. Be prepared to acknowledge and talk about how their businesses or lives have changed.

“Recognize that today is not yesterday. While some people haven’t experienced much change during the pandemic, others have had their entire worlds turned upside down. To put it another way, we’re in the same storm but not in the same boat,” Zabriskie says. “Don’t assume people have the situations they did in February or a one similar to someone else’s.”

Ask about their current situation and how you can help.

No. 2: Don’t push

“Call to check in, not to sell,” Zabriskie says.

More importantly, offer customers something free and valuable that will help them navigate business, life or just the current situation.

If you check in, offer something of real value and avoid selling; you will gain trust and rebuild the stalled relationship.

No. 3: Be flexible

Many customers are likely contacting you now, admitting they’ve become more price sensitive.

“If possible, give people options that allow them to remain your customer,” Zabriskie says. “Some customers will come right out and tell you they can’t afford something. Others may feel too proud or believe that their finances are none of your business.”

Work with your finance people on creative ways to help customers get what they need – perhaps payment plans, smaller orders, extended credit or a different product that will do the job well enough for now.

No. 4: Be patient

“Know that you may not be seeing customers at their best,” Zabriskie reminds us. “Kids doing distance learning, the entire family working around the kitchen table, the dog barking during meetings – you name it, someone you know is probably dealing with it.”

Give them some extra time to explain their issues, answer your questions, complain, choose, etc. Then use empathy to connect. Say, “I can understand why you would feel that way,” or “It has been difficult, and I’m here to help.”

“A little generosity on your part may turn an otherwise potentially stressful situation around,” Zabriskie says.

No. 5: Be candid

If you have templates or canned answers for days gone by, get rid of them, Zabriskie recommends.

“Instead, think about what’s bothering or concerning your customers,” she says.

Then either talk with them, acknowledging and working with those new concerns or creating new scripts for conversations, email, chat, text, etc.

No. 6: Share stories

While customers sometimes want to vent or feel their problems are singular, they might feel better knowing other people like them are in similar situations – and there is help.

“Offer choices and highlight how those choices are helping people,” says Zabriskie.

If customers tell you about a problem, tell them something like, “I understand. In fact, one of my other customers is facing something similar. Would you like to hear how we’ve been able to move toward a resolution?”

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