We all know how important customer engagement is for businesses to build loyalty and drive sales. However, for many reasons, engaging with customers is more important than ever during times of crisis in order to prove your worth to your customers and be able to come out on the other side of it. We are going to explore these reasons and how customer relationship management tools can help, but first, let’s define customer engagement in general terms.
B2C aptly describes customer engagement as the connection between businesses and their customers created through communications that forge deeper relationships. The communication should show your value as a business to your customers to help them meet their goals, according to B2C.
Businesses can face crises on many scales. They can suffer a financial or personnel crisis within their own organization, for instance, or a larger scale crisis such as a natural disaster. What we’ve seen with the 2020 pandemic is a whole new scale, affecting almost every business around the world as well as individuals, but being ready for any crisis will help, no matter how large or small. Effective customer engagement has proven time and again to be an important factor.
Why is Engaging With Customers So Important During Crisis?
1. Can’t be face-to-face
Not being able to meet your customers or prospects face-to-face can be difficult. If you are trying to give a sales pitch without being in the same room, it can change the presentation dramatically. Or, if you have a storefront and cannot accept customers, this can be detrimental to business.
Having a solid foundation with your customers before crisis strikes and a plan in place to engage with your prospects and customers when unable to be present with them are key.
2. Customers may be experiencing financial difficulties
With crises that affect entire groups of businesses, geographic regions, or the entire world, customers are likely to experience financial difficulties or have a fear of losing their jobs and struggling to make ends meet.
Ensuring you have a lasting relationship with your customers by engaging with them early and often can help establish trust during crisis and loyalty throughout it.
3. Your product may not matter right now
In the midst of a larger-scale crisis, depending on what your product is, it may just not matter right now. When people go into survival mode, they may not necessarily want to book a trip with their neighborhood travel agent, for instance. In fact, they may even cancel every trip they have planned for the future, with enough uncertainty in it.
Customer engagement in the face of crisis is also about engaging with them about the reality of the crisis. Let them know what their rights are as a customer to return, cancel, or postpone. Give a little extra if you can. Be proactive in your engagement before, during, and after the crisis so they will come back to you when the crisis subsides.
4. Sheltering in place
In the worst-case-scenario crises as we have had in 2020, if you and your customers are instructed to stay home, it may also have a detrimental effect on your engagement with customers, forcing you to change the way you engage entirely. Of course, you’ll have to reach out to them at their homes using your various channels, but your customers may also be afraid, angry, bored, or anxious.
When you engage with your customers, you’ll want to be sensitive to the way they may be feeling, no matter what it is. Let them know your business and products are there for them to help, if it’s true, or that we’re all in this together and you hope to see them when it’s all over.
5. Need to be available for customer service on more digital channels
Existing customers may need to get in touch with you with issues or questions regarding their purchases despite not being available in-person or at the office.
Ensuring you can engage with your customers on numerous channels will help with this aspect significantly. Be available via chat, social media, email, and phone from wherever you are so you can always be available for customer support anytime and from anywhere.
6. Customers want to know you care
Though it is better to show your customers you care from the start, it is even more important during a crisis. Caring can be everything from caring about their well-being to the well-being of all people, your community, the environment, racial injustices, or whatever it is that fits your values and shows you have a heart.
Be sure to communicate to your customers and your prospects your commitment to caring when you engage with them during and following a crisis.
7. Loyalty matters more than ever before
A business crisis situation will be a very good barometer for how well you have engaged with your customers prior to the situation that causes the crisis. According to Forbes, building loyalty drives revenue. In order to build loyalty, it’s important to get customers to want to experience your brand. The way to do that is customer engagement.
If you have loyal customers despite a crisis or in the midst of one, you have engaged them well. If you don’t, it’s not too late to start better engagement when crisis hits.
8. Unknown future
Some crises can result in an inability to know the future. The pandemic, for instance, has most people unsure about what to expect financially, emotionally, physically, etc. Plus, it has changed how we do business today, tomorrow, and for the foreseeable future.
Effective engagement with your customers will let them know that you don’t know what to expect either, but you’ll be there when they are ready to purchase again and will make it safe to do so.
9. Might be more about content than sales
During a crisis, especially a longer-term one, engaging with your customers may be the only thing you do. Providing them with valuable content when you engage with them can accomplish many of the other goals mentioned here.
10. Data usage is different
In the event that you are unable to physically be with your customers and your fellow employees, you may need to do something different to collect and access data. Engaging with your customers through digital means is a great way to collect data so you can continue operating in the future. Implementing ways to collect and share the data, such as customer relationship management tools will also be important.
How Customer Relationship Management Tools Can Help
Using powerful customer relationship management tools, your sales team can be ready for any crisis. The 2020 pandemic is a good example of the worst-case-scenario (we hope) for a crisis that can disrupt business a great deal. Having a CRM tool in place made all the difference for some businesses once teams were forced to go remote and the focus shifted from sales to engagement.
CRMs can help with customer engagement during a crisis because they offer features such as:
- Easy interaction with customers
- Ability to share information with teammates
- Capturing customer details and other data
- Helps sales teams be more responsive
- Better personailzaiton
- Centralized data
Agile CRM is an all-in-one CRM and one of the most powerful customer relationship management tools on the market. In addition to the features above, Agile CRM offers advanced features to supercharge your sales, marketing, and customer services such as marketing and sales automation, 360-degree contact view, timelines, calendars, appointment scheduling, and more. As a cloud-based SaaS product, Agile CRM is available to anyone with access from anywhere, allowing teams to work remotely from each other.
Agile CRM is also part of the 500apps Infinity Suite, which will allow your business to find even more ways to help your organization survive a crisis, no matter how large or small.
The future is always unpredictable. But, if we’ve learned nothing else in 2020, we’ve learned that businesses must be ready for anything. For the reasons outlined above, customer engagement proves to be extremely important through this crisis will be for any future ones. Take some time to make sure your organization is engaging with your customers effectively and have the right customer relationship management tools in place so you can help your business survive, or even thrive, through crises.