8 Tips to Connect with Customers During COVID-19

By Greg Dutfield

We all know the mantra: Stay close to the customer. Never has it been more critical than in the current COVID-19 world when customer visits are not possible and face-to-face interactions are just not happening.

Maxon UK&I has always excelled at building first-class customer relationships. So, what can we, as sales engineers, and as a business, do to keep those relationships alive and to stay alert for new business opportunities? Here are eight tips to keep in mind.

1. If you haven’t done so already, dig into your old pipelines and top 20 accounts and contact them. With furloughs common and offices being closed, a friendly “How are you? Can we help?” email is the next step to keep communication lines open.

2. Work closely with your purchasing department and credit control to ensure that if customers wish to review orders due to cash flow problems, you are promptly aware of the issue and can contact them. You may be able to suggest extended delivery or payment terms for a limited time period. This ensures you keep the account and build customer loyalty.

3. With social distancing, exhibitions are likely to be on hold for some time. Instead, many have moved to the virtual world. Make sure you identify which shows will be run online and register your interest. Companies still have valuable information they are keen to share, and while you can’t visit exhibitions in person, you can retrieve information from the virtual experience.

4.  Now is the time to increase your online marketing profile. Review your website. Increase your newsletter sends–this is not the time for the hard sell; it’s the time to offer support to customers and prospects. Inform your customer base how you will be doing business during this time. This is an excellent moment to update old brochures with your latest products and stay current. 

5.  Spend time focusing on your research and development contacts. While companies’ production lines may be at a standstill, their next-generation product development might not be. Engineers are very capable of working from home and will always be interested to learn about new developments and products.

6.  Clear out and update your customer relationship management (CRM). This is the perfect opportunity to ensure you have quality information, up-to-date contact details and crucial data to target the right customer.

7. Investigate new markets. This is a suitable time to identify new and emerging market areas and to do your research. Even if you only manage to find one new potential market, you’ll be ready to hit the ground running when we return to business as usual.

8. Finally, be prepared for coming out of the pandemic. Inform your customers about any manufacturing capacity issues that may arise due to strong demand as things improve. Be honest about lead times and ask your customers to place orders early to avoid a problem with supply chains and production capacity.

Greg Dutfield is senior sales engineer for industrial and mobility at Maxon.

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