The past few months, since the beginning of the COVID-19, have been no less than a nightmare for most. After facing the initial challenges of remote working, quarantining at home, social distancing and other precautionary practices forced upon us by the pandemic, people are slowly getting used to the new normal.
However, one of the biggest consequences of the lockdown, or pandemic time, has been a rise in mental health issues. There has been a serious spike in mental breakdowns and an overall drop in motivation. As a business owner or a part of the leadership of a company, it is important that you keep your employees and customers motivated and happy.
Creating a space where employees feel heard, safe and happy is likelier to push productivity levels and boost retention in the company. Ensuring that you are available for your customers and actively caring for them during a global crisis builds loyalty towards your brand and creates a better customer experience.
Here are 8 ways to build and sustain stronger relationships with your community of employees and customers in this difficult time.
Timely Check Ins:
Everyone’s going through a hard time. The best way to support your employees and customers is to be present for them at all times. This will instill hope and build strong relationships.
Schedule weekly team meetings and mentor-mentee sessions to keep employees engaged. With customers, it could be an email, a newsletter or even just an e-flyer reminding them about your availability as a brand.
Valuing their Opinions:
Both your employees and customers are well aware of the pandemic’s impact on businesses too. The burden of fixing everything alone, in your office and your offerings, will take a toll on you. The best way to make changes is to involve your customers and employees in the process.
Ask for suggestions on how things can be tweaked during this time. After you have made changes to your operations, ask for feedback. This will show that you care about their comfort and act on their opinions. At the same time, it makes your service or product more airtight and possibly more successful.
For example, if a food chain finds that 80% of the customers will only order the food if there is no-contact delivery and an assurance of santised practices, adding this to their operations will be fruitful. Similarly, if an employee suggests that a change in the business model might push productivity, exploring this may be beneficial.
Adopt Cloud Communications:
Help your employees feel productive while they work from home by adopting cloud telephony solutions. Offered at a low cost, it can give employees separate numbers to work with—helping them establish a work-life balance.
Features such as IVR, live chats, video calls, voice mails and conference calls can make remote working easy and help you stay in touch 24/7, with employees and customers, both. Features such as cloud data storage, bulk SMS, voice broadcasts, and more are the cherry on the cake.
While it is important for productivity to be monitored, it is also important to be flexible and compassionate. According to an article by Forbes, 80% of women and 52% of men want flexibility in their next jobs. Furthermore, 92% of millennials identify flexibility as a top priority while job hunting.
Acknowledge that your employees are working from home, while balancing family, personal responsibilities and more. It will help you to create structures that keep your employees’ productivity going. Many companies are now imbibing a work-based culture as opposed to a time-based culture. This means that a final deadline is given to employees to complete a certain amount of work––how they finish their work is their prerogative. This lets them manage their time according to their convenience.
Inform your customers about these flexible practices and let them know the right time to call or when they can expect your reply. This lets customers know that you care about your employees and also helps them plan their engagement with you.
Create Virtual Interactions:
While most companies are using video conferencing to overcome the distance that remote working has created, they’ve forgotten about the fun activities that they used to organise.
Creating virtual informal spaces can help employees unwind after a long week, celebrate or even just be able to share struggles informally with each other. Do organise such virtual events for customers, as well. Chances are they miss interacting with you and engaging in events.
Share your Struggles:
Modern customers value honesty and authenticity. Communicate and allow your customers to know the struggles you are going through. Transparency fosters trust, thereby improving relationships. Similarly, share your struggles with employees. Let them know about imminent pay cuts and changes in the company structure. This will help them to be prepared and boost engagement.
Don’t just tell your employees and customers that you care, show it as well.
Hire a mental health practitioner to virtually support employees, send out self care-tips and readings on optimising remote working, and organise events to help employees unwind.
For customers, too, keep a list of available mental and physical health support centres in the area. Create forums to boost engagement and encourage conversations on topics that concern them. If you have allotted a certain amount of your Corporate Social Responsibility or profit to COVID-19 relief work, share updates regarding your contributions.
One of the biggest reasons people feel anxious or upset or anxious during this time is the uncertainty or loss of control in their lives. Bringing a sense of positivity and good news to employees can help assure them that things will be alright and you are there for them.
As for customers, promise stability in the way you can—whether it is by letting them know the company’s core values will not change or by letting them in on the steps you are taking to ensure safety. Sharing good practices and news via email will increase customer engagement, as the pandemic has taught people to value and enjoy any and all good news.
To conclude, it is important to remember that your company is made by its employees and customers. Thus, them being happy, motivated and loyal to you directly impacts your company. Remote work seems to be a trend that will stay for a while, if not longer. Cloud communication solutions will help you stay in touch with your employees and customers, even when you’re miles away. It is the future of efficient communications and trade.
Vanita Arora is a marketing enthusiast currently working with Servetel – a leading cloud telephony service provider. Reading novels, travelling is some of her interest areas that keep her rejuvenated.