Maintaining your client base in times of crisis is no easy task. Having a happy and loyal client bases requires a lot of work, so mastering the art of client management is a key to any thriving business. While you have already got into the habit of being a successful account manager, certain circumstances can come along to challenge you.
If you’re starting to lose clients, or you’re looking for new ways to survive sudden periods of reduced cash flows, how you respond to a crisis will determine what happens to your business next. When events that are out of your control happen, such as the coronavirus pandemic, knowing what your clients will need in this situation will help to solidify your working relationship.
Drawing on 20 years of experience in digital marketing and account management, we’ve put together this guide to ensure your client relationship outlasts crises. Whatever your industry, these tips will help inform your strategy and tackle future challenges.
The last thing businesses should do in the event of a crisis, is reduce or cease communication with their clients. Tensions will likely be higher than usual, but that doesn’t mean you should hide under a rock and hope for the best. Your customers need reassurance that you have their back during difficult times, so you need to be proactive and stay in touch regularly.
Pick up the phone
In our experience, the traditional phone call works better than sending emails, which let’s face it, no one will have the time to read. Your clients’ priorities will have shifted, so you need to be mindful of their time and adapt accordingly.
Calling your clients on a regular basis to let them know what is happening, is a more personal and efficient way to maintain trust and further build your relationship. This way, you can also get a better understanding of how things really are for them, which will help you tailor your approach to help them manage the crisis.
Delivering bad news is always daunting, but it should go without saying that lying is not an option. Poor results are a common consequence of crises and delivering the information to your client should be done with honesty.
Take ownership and responsibility and relay the situation as accurately as possible. Don’t shift blame and show your client what you’re doing to mitigate the impact.
This also applies to questions for which you don’t have an answer for. Tell your client you’ll follow up as soon as possible and provide regular updates to let them know you’re keeping on top of things.
Keep a record of your communications
Don’t forget to record communications accurately. During a crisis, most of your clients will be experiencing service disruptions and will readjust their processes to manage the situation. This might have a direct impact on how you deliver your services and how quickly you respond to unforeseen events.
If a member of your team is off sick or unable to work, someone else will have to take over their accounts. The last thing you want is for a client to follow up on something that no one knows about. Keeping a log of all outgoing communications will ensure that everyone in your company has access to a timeline of events and can respond to incidents promptly.
Innovate your services
Innovating your services will show your clients that you can respond efficiently to tough situations. If you thought the market was harsh before, now more than ever you need to act quickly and leverage all your resources to make sure your clients have a strong competitive advantage.
Clients that have been heavily affected by the crisis will have adapted their offers to suit the current market. Therefore, it might be that your standard services aren’t driving as many results for your clients as they used to. To prevent your services from becoming obsolete, you need to think critically about what you can improve to deliver more value.
For example, we’ve looked into ways to upskill our employees and innovate through Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO). As most businesses have moved online, boosting digital conversions is now a main priority.
Revisiting content and changing the website to improve user journey and meet specific demands helped us convert visitors into customers and drive more leads for our clients. This has ensured our clients maintain a steady flow of revenue, until normal operations are resumed.
If you can’t afford to train your staff or expand on your range or services, you can always think of new ways to help your clients help themselves. Is there anything your clients could be doing differently to stay competitive? Are there any new tools they could be using?
Gather your team and do a brainstorming session. We’ve found it very effective to allocate a time slot each week, to go through our client base. The contribution has been amazing and we’ve managed to come up with many ideas that have impressed our clients.
The key is to be bold. Don’t be scared to let your client know of what you think could work. After all, it’s what they hired you for.
Use data wisely
Many of your clients will be experiencing drastic drops in revenue. Although some will have a “rainy day” fund to help them get by, a lot of them won’t. Using data to help your clients tap into new customer bases and access new revenue streams may determine whether they land on the winning side when the crisis is over.
In a crisis scenario, your data interpretation should focus on short-term thinking and quick wins. Unpredictable circumstances mean that your longer term predictions are likely to shift too quickly for you to create a reliable strategy, so you should use any downtime to make regular data checks and to spot opportunities.
For instance, as an SEO agency, we constantly monitor client data to identify current trends and weak links, as well as establish promising user patterns. In times of crisis, search intent continues to remain unstable, which means that more regular data checks are warranted.
What works today may not work tomorrow, which is why you need to stay proactive and act quickly. Find the right products and services that sell, check the demand for new ones and remember to engage potential customers. A global crisis will have affected everyone, so you never know who might need you.
- In times of crisis, working with your clients and acting as part of their team will ensure a long-lasting relationship.
- Talk to your clients, listen to them and be compassionate. It’s your skills and distinct service that will keep them coming back, regardless of what goes on in the world.
- Be innovative and personalise your services to match your clients’ requirements even in difficult situations.
- Last but not least, use data smartly to capture opportunities and prevent further disruption.