Call Your Customer: Empathy and Problem-Solving During Uncertain Times

By Alli Tiscornia on April 10, 2020
This piece is brought to you by Sendoso Chief Customer Officer, Alli Tiscornia 

Times are tough for everyone. 

Companies across the globe are scrambling to adjust their messaging, go-to-market strategies and budgets as our new reality settles in. Your company has likely faced difficult decisions due to current events. Chances are, your customers have, too.

Stop Selling, Start Sharing  

If you’re struggling with how to engage with your customers right now, I suggest you take a step back. Instead of thinking of how you’re going to win them over, or make desperate attempts to keep them happy, try simply picking up the phone and doing a quick check-in. 

In the past, I’ve picked up the phone and reached out to let them know that this isn’t a sales call. This isn’t a renewal call. This is simply Alli, reaching out to see how they’re holding up. Ask your customers what their biggest concerns are right now. At Sendoso, our mission is to establish human connections in a digital world, and people are really craving that right now. 

If it’s been a while since you’ve last spoken to someone, use this time to reintroduce yourself. For new customers, use your onboarding calls as an opportunity to get to know them better. One of the most significant things to come out of this situation for me is that I’ve heard from people, friends and former co-workers I haven’t heard from in years. 

Be a friend, and you’ll be amazed at how strong your customer relationships will remain at the end of all this. 

Optionality and Problem-Solving for Your Customers

Many customer questions, requests, and concerns are likely coming your way. Get a feel for what your customers need most from you and your company, and work with your team to create new options to address their needs. It’s the perfect time to get creative with your problem-solving techniques. Work with your team to develop different features that can benefit your customers most. (At Sendoso, we introduced our new Address Confirmation feature early in order to ensure that the things our customers send get delivered to the correct location when so many people are working from home.)

Position yourself as a strategic partner for your customers instead of merely a service provider. A good partner would understand that these are extraordinary circumstances, and offer different options when it comes to their contracts. This doesn’t mean that you have to give everything away for free, but I think it’s about talking to your customers realistically about potential plans, and how you can alleviate some of their daily stresses. You don’t want to be perceived as a burden to them right now, so this is an excellent opportunity to drive retention by being understanding and flexible. 

Of course, let your customers know that you appreciate them as people. It’s important to say thank you for sticking it out with you during times of crisis. Send a small succulent to brighten up their workday from home, or a 4-bottle pack of wine to help them unwind after a long day – if you know they have kids at home struggling with the new reality of on-line learning send your customer a puzzle for the family or a design your own doughnuts package. Thinking about what people need as a respite to the reality we are dealing with is much appreciated.

Keep Calm and Be Empathetic

I was on a call recently with a sales rep who, unaware I had moved companies, abruptly hung up on me because he didn’t know how to proceed with the rest of the conversation! While that was not the best way to handle that situation, it does speak to the sense of panic people are feeling at the moment. In these uncertain times, it can be easy to panic and make rash decisions—especially when you don’t have many concrete answers. But keep in mind that your customers are looking to you for guidance. I think it’s okay to be upfront and let them know that while things are rapidly changing, so too are your strategies. 

Take the time to craft messaging that resonates with your audience on a human level. Be genuine and communicate that you may not have all the answers right now, but you’re working hard to find them, learning as you go, and hope to be a key resource for them throughout this process. 

I myself have been scouring the internet, curious about how other companies are engaging with their customers, and how they’re approaching difficult conversations. I’ve found that above all else, empathy and human connection in your outreach is what matters most. 

We are all facing unprecedented times and challenges. You have the unique opportunity to be a light for your customers, so remain optimistic and reassure them that we’ll find a way out of this together. 

If you want to hear me speak more about customer communication, tune into my session with ChurnZero in the Show Must Go On below. 

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