It’s easy to let fear in these days. The challenges we’re facing are unlike anything we’ve ever experienced. And now, more than ever, your clients look to you to help them navigate through these unprecedented times. The World Health Organization (WHO) established that we need to stay six feet away from each other to keep physical distance and stop the virus from spreading. But that doesn’t mean you stop supporting your clients. You might not be able to control the crisis, but you can control your response to it. In this week’s Broker Tool Belt, we share five tips to connect with clients while physical distancing.
1. Stay Informed
Due to COVID-19, the current landscape is in continuous change. Staying up to date and complying with the evolving regulations for your city and county is crucial to be able to support your clients. Stay informed of what type of service you are allowed to offer within the policies designed to control the spread of COVID-19.
Take the pulse of the health insurance industry every day and note any change that might affect your clients. Consult the US Government Coronavirus page, the NCSL’s page, and follow local news updates daily. Resources such as Google Alerts can also help you stay on top of any important changes. Beware of misinformation and scams that are spread to take advantage of this crisis. Social media is a great channel to boost connection, but if you are consuming news from your social networks, make sure they are trusted sources.
2. Show Empathy and Offer Help
Most of the workforce had to shift to a working from home model overnight. Without the possibility of going to the office and barely going outside, human connection has been reduced in everyone’s lives. But during these times of uncertainty, people seek that connection more than ever. Take the time to show your clients that you care about them and their future. Not only at a company level, but at a personal level too.
Put yourself in their shoes, understand what role they play in their community, and offer helpful resources if possible. These are times to show your humanity with an authentic response. We’ve seen examples from big to small businesses. Walgreens and CVS waived their prescription medicine delivery fees and local restaurants started offering free delivery for customers over the age of 70. In your specific position, what can you do for your clients?
3. Communicate Actively
During this crisis, your clients will be counting on you even more than usual. Don’t let them be the first ones to reach out and chase you for the information they might need in these uncertain times. If you want to connect with clients while physical distancing, be proactive in your communications and send relevant messages containing any change or impact in your business. If you fail to do so, you will likely spend most of your time answering the same questions over and over again.
Email and Social Media
Email and social media are two forms of direct communication with your clients. Use both channels to let them know you are still there to help them with anything they might need. These channels will provide instant connection, so don’t only highlight your services, share what is truly necessary during this time and that will strengthen your relationship.
Your website is one of the most important channels to communicate important information to the public. Consider creating a specific page to provide your clients with the most complete information about how COVID-19 is affecting your agency. You can implement a site-wide banner with key information such as modified hours of operation, new phone number, or new services that might be important for your clients like online onboarding or telemedicine.
Google My Business
Google plays a big role as an intermediary between customers and businesses. The search engine is the first resource a lot of prospects and current clients will use to get to you. They will be able to find your website and social media networks, but also your Google My Business profile. There are four fields in GMB you can utilize to communicate any updates to your customers:
- Name: Google now allows businesses to edit their business name field to reflect specific services like takeout or delivery. This might not be directly useful for you, but it can be for your clients.
- Phone Number: If you are working from home and your primary work number is your office telephone, update this field with your home or cell phone information.
- Hours of Operation: If your hours of operation have been affected by this situation, update the corresponding field on your GMB profile.
- COVID-19 Update: Google has created a new type of post related to COVID-19 that you’ll see as an option in your GMB dashboard. Utilize it to update your prospects or current clients about your agency’s situation and services modifications.
It’s important you are always honest and transparent if you want to connect with your clients while physical distancing. They count on you to keep providing your services and deliver all relevant information. Make sure you communicate with them and make your clients aware of any changes so they can adjust and reduce the impact on their business.
4. Personalize Your Approach
The way COVID-19 is affecting your clients could be different. Don’t assume they are all living under the same circumstances and need the same solutions. Today more than ever, their needs will be unique and will be continuously changing.
Approach each one as the unique customer that they are and craft messages that are relevant for their individual situation. For example, a restaurant that can keep the doors open for pick up and delivery needs different solutions than a store that had to completely close. Start your communications by asking them questions about their business and their current situation. Consult and converse with them. If you take the time to personalize your approach, you will create a stronger bond that will take your relationship to the next level.
5. Connect Virtually
Nothing can replace in-person relationships, but virtual connections are the next-best-thing at the moment. While you are already reachable by phone and email, relying only on these methods alone is not enough during the COVID-19 outbreak. Video-based communication is key during times of physical distancing. Offer video conferencing options to your clients so they can get their face-to-face time with you as they used to. Video will keep you connected as a team who is tackling the same critical problems, together.
Today, there is a vast range of tools that will allow you to quickly jump to a face-to-face meeting with anyone, no matter their physical location. Skype and FaceTime are easy and simple solutions. If you want to opt for a more robust option, check out Zoom and their resources for how to conduct business virtually.
Before you start implementing any of these steps to connect with clients while physical distancing, make sure to review your on-going communications. Audit your entire messaging and stop any campaign that might be tone-deaf to the new situation. In addition, don’t forget to show your clients your appreciation and recognize their importance. Your clients keep choosing to do business with you, thank them for also staying through the hard times. Finally, stay strong and inspire your clients to keep going. We will get through this together.