COVID-19 has been one of the biggest global challenges of our generation. Customer behaviour is changing at a staggering pace, and digital adoption has become necessary for survival. When the pandemic eventually recedes, your customers will have to continue to adapt and accommodate new business models, attitudes and behaviours in engaging markets. Leaders must take immediate action to meet customer expectations in the post-crisis era.
As a TechCEO, You have a unique opportunity in engaging differently with your customers and help them navigate this crisis.
Last month we covered how TechCEOs can respond to the Covid-19 event and take control of your business in H2 2020. Now, let’s explore how TechCEOs can engage their customers differently and deepen their relationship.
Let’s be clear. By now customers have accepted the fact they are bang in the center of a prolonged recession, at the same time they are seeking a level of certainty which allows them to move forward with caution and renewed hope.
Most important thing they want from any vendor is to assist them in establishing a sense of clarity. As a TechCEO, if your selling team has reach across a broad swath of customers, industry verticals, and geographies you can help your customers by providing evidence-based perspectives. There is a clear opportunity for vendors to make sense of rapidly shifting conditions and bring clarity to their customers.
As a TechCEO, you can offer your customers some of these information:
- Assess impact on customer businesses and potential areas to offer support.
- Create near-term commercial messages that help customers more effectively manage their business through the pandemic and aftermath.
- In lieu of data-backed perspective, engage customers with a hypothesis-led approach.
- Position and arm sellers as “Sense Makers,” helping customers understand rapidly shifting dynamics.
Customer Engagement Strategies
1. Help re-visit the long-term plan or strategy.
“How is your long-term strategy changing or evolving given current conditions?
Have you had discussions with your customers to understand the impact of this recession on their business strategy? As frightening as the current crisis may appear, if you can help your customers respond better to it will decide how well their organisations will thrive once the economy starts recovering. You will deepen your relationship with clients if If you can give them ideas whereby they can utilise the slowdown to step back and take some strategic measures that will pay off in the long term.
2. Explore hypothesis on coming changes to customer or market behaviour.
“Here’s what we’re seeing and what we think it means. What do you think? Would you agree?”
To some extent if you can put yourself in your customer’s shoes and help them analyse their current situation, outlook, the forces shaping the next normal, and the new organisational structures that can help them keep pace with the changes – it will be really welcome. Instead of pushing your products and solutions, if your selling team can spend some time in engaging and visualising the changes in your customer business and test some hypothesis, it will go a long way in developing an empathetic relationship with client stake holders.
You could launch a survey, consolidate reports and gather vital data points and assemble it meaningful ways to make an impact to your customer assessment journey.
3. Explore likely impact to business processes (e.g. workflow, supply chain).
“Which processes will likely change as a result of COVID-19, and which won’t? Here’s what we’re seeing.”
One silver lining with Covid situation is that it has shown businesses how to manage better and achieve greater speed, quality, and cost control. Gone are the days of waiting around for best practices to emerge. CEOs recognise the need to shift from adrenaline-based speed during COVID-19 to speed by design for the long run. The winners are experimenting now, and boldly.
You could explore with your customers as to which key processes are in for a major revamp. For example, redeploying talent, improving productivity in specific areas, developing new products quickly, shifting and adjusting operations can be explored in detail to adapt to current situational needs. You could be of help to your customers in some way.
4. Address previously agreed-upon strategic initiatives.
“Which strategic initiatives will you likely have to revisit or re-prioritise as a result of these changes?”
Post pandemic, most organisations are being forced to address these 3 important questions: Who are we? How do we operate? How will we grow? Most customers are focussed on helping stabilise the company in the near term, creating the right conditions for growth as we emerge from the crisis, and building the resilience the company will need to get through the next several cycles.
You could engage in conversations to discuss how strategic priorities are shifting with this sudden change in fortunes and how companies are responding to the situation.
5. Help customers develop and prioritise actions for a range of upcoming scenarios.
“Let’s lay out the range of actions you might take for each step of the following three phases, depending on how conditions develop: near term protection, mid-term recovery, long-term new normal”
For one of our clients we immediately engaged in a conversation that went like this:
Look after employees first, followed by customers and suppliers. It will pay off in the long run, as each group will certainly remember how you treated them during this difficult time. The profits and dividends will come later if you make the right decisions and moves now.
We helped them establish clarity in communicating short term execution of long term plans and not short term guidance.
We discussed with their leadership team as to how as a company they can withstand the crisis, and how strong will it be in the long term, considering its competitive position, growth potential, and returns on capital? It help them a lot.
6. Create near-term commercial messages that help customers respond smarter.
Your selling team should help develop points of view based on your customer/ prospect company’s perspective in markets served and relay this to customers. Helping your customer assess patterns in how they are inadvertently mismanaging their responses to the crisis and not pro-actively engaging their markets is a big help. Your team should let buyers know that commercial opportunities will exist where assumptions and rapid decision making are driving customers’ business responses.
If you can encourage your customers to respond as a relevant thought leader with a sharpened focus linking their value proposition with the most critical and timely concerns of their customers.
- 10 Steps TechCEOs Can Take Now to Bounce Back Click here.
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- 3 Mistakes to Avoid In Your Tech Business To Grow Revenue Click here.