Put your HEART in your locked down business
Dr Amanda Hamilton-Attwell
If big businesses like Edcon is suffering due to the current situation, small businesses are even more vulnerable. But South Africa need each one of you to survive. So, I am providing you with these “life-saving tips” to apply during your lockdown.
In a recent article in Harvard Business Review, Ted Waldron and James Wetherby explained their HEART model and how it can ensure that your customer relations outlive and improve during the COVID-19 lockdown:
Humanise your company.
Let your customers know that you understand their frustration because you cannot provide the service they were used to. Offer tips to address the most immediate problems, e.g. a restaurant can offer a recipe a week; a garage can remind people to start their cars sometimes, a gym or a physio can send exercises. Be practical but show that you feel for your customers.
Educate about change.
Inform your customers about the changes in your business, for instance, if the employees work from home, which email address is best to use. Tell them how you dealt with your staff – are they on leave, retrenched, working like before. This will build the confidence your customers will have in you, post-COVID19.
Tell your customers that you will offer the same service as before, be specific, and name the unique things your business did for their customers. This is the time to focus your customers on your USP!
Beyond assuring your customers that you will provide the same quality service as before, tell them that you took the words of Sun Tzu (who wrote The Art of War) that chaos presents an opportunity for innovation, to heart and that you will also now serve them in new ways – and in time tell them about these new ways.
Tackle the future.
Give your customers timelines. We do not know what will happen and if the lockdown will end on 30 April but tell them that you plan to be up and running where they used to find you the day after the lockdown ended. If possible, offer a special to get them queuing at your door. Also, tell them that you will contact them again a week before the lockdown is scheduled to end.