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Challenges and opportunities: changing the customer conversation

In our new world relationships with customers and partners are more important than ever. So how do we overcome obstacles and build a resilient and reputable brand? Stuart Strickland, GM of Customer Enablement at Empired, considers this question from both an external and internal point of view.

Challenges and opportunities: changing the customer conversation

As technology has evolved we’ve seen businesses investing more in digital transformation, which has begun to reshape how we approach our customers. As we emerge into what will be a new world for business these changes have been thrown into hyperspeed, resulting in businesses of every nature swiftly adopting digital-first practices and rethinking their dialogue with customers, their marketing strategies and how they work with partners.

We’ve seen firsthand the shifts taking place, and the challenges and opportunities these changes represent. In order to continue to grow as a business, we’ve put extra attention on the generation on new and warm leads, investing more in our partner interactions and considering how best to bolster these relationships, and increasing our marketing activity.

Partnerships: lasting the distance

First, let’s look at partnerships and buyer behaviour. It’s difficult to generalise the state of business, with some organisations significantly and adversely impacted and others trading at higher rates than ever. However, we have noticed some key trends that indicate where we should be putting our focus.

Many of our customers are coming to us and wanting to mobilise their workforce immediately, and are willing to invest in digital tools and strategies in order to do that. This represents huge opportunities.

However, many decision makers are more risk averse, which means they’ll be looking at working with known and trusted partners, so building your client base with new customers is going to be difficult. Now’s the time to be looking at your long-established relationships, those that have been running for three plus years, because a large amount of growth will come from there.

Prior to everyone working remotely many of our partnerships relied on informal conversations, and historically we’ve always relied on face to face contact. Since being desk bound, we’ve had to look at how to continue to build rapport from a distance.

In practice, has this meant making the sales process a lot more disciplined. As a result, our team has been scheduling meetings with clients once or twice a week to catch-up and check in. In fact in some cases we've spent more time with our customers and partners since we’ve formalised these interactions, which goes to show that what may initially seem like a setback can also be a chance to improve the way you operate!

Marketing: making a mark

As customers turn to existing partners, it is getting more difficult to attract new clients and as a result businesses are now relying more heavily on marketing to make these initial connections.

We are seeing that many businesses are cutting down on marketing, but even if your doors are shut or trade is down, this is an important time to share your message and solidify your place in the market. In fact, this unusual circumstance is a chance for businesses to make a lasting impression.

Tone and creativity are always crucial components of marketing, and now more than ever. When it comes to tone, it’s important to strike a balance between being empathetic to the situation and how it’s impacting everyone personally and uniquely, without being patronising or inauthentic.

For ourselves, we’ve found that focusing on how you want to help your customers, or already are, is a good starting point. We’ve seen some very clever, honest advertising by brands that are clearly and genuinely trying to help, and this will go a long way for those brands in the future.

As for creativity, there is definitely a need for organisations right now to think outside the box to stand out in an increasingly competitive and information-saturated world. With a large bulk of activity online, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to be heard in amongst the noise, especially when it comes to activities such as webinars or online video advertising spots. It’s incumbent on us all to make our content compelling, relevant and valuable.

One example of this in action is one of our partners who’s inviting people to come together to watch a presentation every fortnight, and they’re giving out vouchers for beer so people can go out, get their own and join in the fun. This approach can be powerful because it can make people feel connected during a challenging time.

At Empired we’ve been running webinars over the past couple of months. They’ve all been highly focused on what people need right now, covering topics such as working remotely with Microsoft technologies, how to secure a remote workforce and how businesses can make their customer experience more personal. We were able to mobilise quickly offer value right away, so we made a place for ourselves in the online space. Cost and logistics wise, it’s also been a smart move, as we used to run face to face events in 10 different locations and now we only have to run one.

In addition we’ve launched our #ReimagineWork microsite, where we have shared – and continue to share – an abundance of free information, insights and advice around how to secure business operations, accelerate digital engagement and enable your people to help partners and their customers. An example of this is our Guide to Working Remotely, which we have shared for anyone to be able to download and use.

Success in action

We’ve seen examples of businesses bringing forward digital transformation plans at a rapid rate and making the most of this uncertain time.

For instance, we work with a large cosmetics and beauty company that have had to close all of their storefronts. In order to mitigate the fallout and keep the business running, we've been working together on a project to allow them to distribute all their products online.

We are also seeing some of our private sector clients take this time as a chance to complete internal projects. For instance the Telehealth Scheduler we built for the Department of Health in Western Australia has basically realised its five-year uptake goals in the first three months of operation, already reaching their 2025 goal of Telehealth appointments. This service is now available to rural and metropolitan citizens.

Staying connected and looking long term

While you are rolling out various activities and focusing on your partners, you must also make sure to give attention to internal operations. With teams working remotely, the technology piece is important, but you also need to implement policies and procedures that ensure operations continue to run smoothly and that employees have a positive experience. This is a time to empower, empathise with and, in all things, remember the importance of our people.

Simple activities can have a big impact. At Empired we have daily stand-ups so our people can be on the phone and talk about what's happening. We've also got Friday drinks where we all get on a call and talk about the week – what went well and what didn't, and swap experiences and stories.

Long term, we’re all going to see more questions around how we work surfacing, and businesses beginning to implement different strategies around their remote working plans. In a number of industries, we will also likely see businesses reducing the amount of new hires and work hours until stability returns. So throughout all this, it will be important for organisations to keep an open dialogue with their teams so that employees can feel confident in the work they’re doing.

While it’s hard to know what will stick and what will fade from memory, this is a turning point and a chance to remember what’s important and reimagine the way we work.


This blog is part of the #ReimagineWork series. For more experts' insights, clients' experiences and to download our datasheets, click the banner.

For more experts' insights, clients' experience and to download our datasheets, click the banner #datareimagine

Posted by: Stuart Strickland, General Manager Customer Enablement | 09 June 2020

Tags: #ReimagineWork

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