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How to stay connected with customers while social distancing

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Sanjay K
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Connecting customers is a challenge at the best of times – in the era of the pandemic, even more so. People are being forced to do work from home, avoid gatherings, and many businesses have shut down their physical shops altogether to go fully digital.

While social distancing (or, even better, “physical distancing” according to the World Health Organization), connecting and retaining customers without the usual face-to-face interaction may be tough. Even if your business already has a presence online, you’ll probably still need to power up your digital connection with customers. And this isn’t about selling your products or services to people; it’s about being helpful during a difficult time and strengthening your bond with them.

So, if you’re in this boat, what actions can you take? Here are some ideas to stay connected with your customers: 
 
Understand and adapt 
 
All of us have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic in some way. As customers, our concerns may differ from employees. Some might be worried that they won’t be able to buy essential products anymore or make the right decisions on products like furniture or cars without testing them in person first. The mode of shopping has also shifted: people over 65 years are increasingly buying things online and 20 percent of customers have never bought any items over the internet before. 
 
This is where you can help your customers. By acknowledging any issues, they ‘re facing, you’re more likely to think of ways to address them. And you might not have a choice either. 
 
So, if you can, start by: 
 

  • Asking frequent buyers about their concerns during the coronavirus pandemic. 
  • Checking the customer journey and possible issues. For example, if your customers made their purchasing decisions based on testing the product offline, you’ll need to find ways of simulating this experience online. 
  • Listening to social media voices. People may frequently post their issues, so try to find the ones that are within your control to address. Look for hashtags like #coronavirus or #socialdistancing. 

 

Implement self-service 

Most people nowadays are used to finding information on their own – that’s why search engines like Google or Bing are so popular. And it’s no different for customer service, where self-service provides a way to get answers about a product. 

 

Here are some self-service options: 

  • A knowledge base. If you already have one, make sure it’s easily accessible and up-to-date. 
  • A Live Chat SupportChat support can provide answers to customers’ question quickly from the webpage.  
  • Customer forums. This may take more time to set up, but it’s a good way to help customers and build engagement for the long-term. 

 

Care for your employees

It’s generally accepted that happy employees = happy customers. The more satisfied and well-equipped employees are, the better care they’ll provide to your customers. Especially at a time when your customer service employees move from on-site work to remote work, they need reassurance that you have their backs. 

Many companies have taken steps to help their employees adjust. If they needany tools, days off due to the coronavirus, or other support, make sure you do what’s possible to help them. 

 

Look for the bright spots 
 
Can the coronavirus have a positive side? Well, if there’s anything good to have come out of this global crisis, it’s the opportunity to actively overcome communication barriers and strengthen our connections to others. So, be helpful – your customers will appreciate it, both as consumers and as people.

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Sanjay K
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