Support clients during the hard times and they will stay for the good times.
While Canada has successfully flattened the curve, our physical distancing remains. Returning to the office for some companies could be months away and some may decide to never return.
Companies such as Shopify have decided to forego offices and implement permanent work-from-home policies. This means the days of in-person meetings, pitches, and strategy presentations could be in the rearview.
As Blue Door continues to internally navigate the new normal, we have not forgotten the importance of connections. In communications, how do we cope when our companies are built on personal interactions and strong relationships? Below we have outlined key tactics that will help companies stay connected to their clients without having to physically be present in the same room.
Check out our tips below on how to stay connected with clients throughout a pandemic, so you can too.
Let Clients Know That Your Company’s Values Will Continue
Clients know that you have been negatively impacted by COVID-19 too, but they need to know that you will continue to provide the things they have come to know and value — the defining reasons they patronize your business instead of others. If clients value your quality of work, attention to detail or responsiveness, tell them how you will maintain those value propositions through this time.
COVID-19 has provided agencies with the time to reassess service offerings. What might have been useful to clients before COVID-19, may not render necessary post-pandemic. Adapting to your clients’ needs has always been the key to success to remain relevant in your industry, but now is the time to listen to what they might need and how you can support them. Whether that includes growing your crisis communications or digital advertising team, it’s essential to keep your finger on the pulse as clients rapidly progress and adapt their business.
Understand the Financial Situation
Let clients know that your company understands the dire social circumstances at play and that you care about more than simply reaping profit during this difficult time. Empathize with those affected by COVID-19, and spell out the steps you are taking to help customers, employees, and other stakeholders. Understand that being flexible when it comes to invoicing and payment is key. Create payment plans so clients have room to provide payment or allow for pauses in contracts until they are fully operational.
Be the Support They Need
It has always been important to champion your clients throughout all engagements, but this is more crucial now than ever before. While trying to keep afloat, businesses are struggling to keep members of their teams employed, stay relevant with their audiences, and still have a business after this is all over. Coupled with the personal stress of the health pandemic, COVID-19 has been overwhelming, to say the least. Ensure you are not adding to the stress and be there to offer support when needed. As your clients work to navigate the new normal, there will likely be several more questions asked than usual, so it is prudent that the agency offers strategic advice and counsel when needed. If clients can trust to rely on you for support during difficult and uncertain times, they will continue to do so after the pandemic.
Communication, Stay Reachable
Due to limited face time with clients, communication mediums need to be completely reassessed internally. It is imperative your company applies great emphasis on future communication with clients, so you can continue to flourish and maintain relationships. This will mean more frequent calls with clients to stay up-to-date and offer recommendations for how you may be able to support them. For more important calls like pitches or strategy presentations, where in-person meetings would be ideal, try utilizing video conferencing to capture more “face-to-face” interactions to get a more confident read on how they are feeling about your work.
As you continue to provide one-on-one support to your clients, sharing content and recommendations for industries as a whole can benefit not only current clients but future clients as well. Recently, Blue Door developed a Reopening Guide for Restaurants to support our clients in next steps as it pertains to digital marketing, in-store signage, public relations, issues management, and events. These guides can be useful for many while keeping your agency top of mind.
Your clients need you and you need your clients. It’s important to keep your community top of mind and listen to what they may need in the coming months. There is no time like the present, it is never too late to adapt.
About the Author:
Leading the non-hospitality PR team at Blue Door, Kate Johnny is well-versed in media relations building relationships with outlets including Globe and Mail, Bloomberg, Financial Post and the Toronto Star.