Why Great Customer Experiences Are More Important During COVID-19

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A remarkable customer experience is your best sales and marketing strategy. That’s what I discussed with 20-year marketing veteran Dan Gingiss. Dan says that he would rather create an amazing customer experience than another social media or email marketing campaign. During the pandemic, this is even more important. Customers are looking for guidance through these tough times. They’re looking for calm and confident experiences because they’re not getting them from the media or from the government. They’re looking for YOU to provide that for them.

The New Way To Do Business During The Pandemic

EVERYTHING is changing. Think about it for a minute. One example is curbside pickup. We didn’t have this option in many places before the pandemic, and now it’s become the status quo. Dan, like most of us, can now save an hour or more by taking advantage of curbside pickup, as opposed to making the time for an entire shopping trip. Think about the technology that has been embraced in the virtual world. Companies are experiencing their multi-year plans getting accomplished in mere months. Think about your own networking life and the people you are meeting virtually who you might never have met from going to local, in-person networking events. One benefit of the pandemic is that companies are valuing their customers more. It’s time to embrace the changes!

The Leaky Bucket Effect

Dan shared the concept of the “Leaky Bucket Effect.” Some companies, especially in the B2B (business to business) space are so focused on acquiring new customers that they’re not paying attention to their existing customers, who are literally keeping the lights on. If you’re an established speaker, you need to avoid this. Nurture your current relationships with existing customers, as well as potential customers with whom you’ve started dialogues and relationships.

Focus on keeping the customers you have; without them, you don’t have a business. The lesson here for professional speakers? Focus at least as much time on keeping your existing clients as you do searching for new prospects. Reach out to current clients or people who have hired you before, and check in to see how they’re doing. Don’t try to sell them anything; don’t remind them that you’re speaking virtually. Just connect with them on a human level, and ask how they and their families are doing during these times. With all of the “lockdowns” happening, many people are missing that human connection. It’s MUCH more meaningful to them now.

Your clients and prospects might not be planning an event for a year or more. But when they DO start planning events again, they’ll remember that you took the time to connect with them in a meaningful way and will be much more likely to hire you.

Marketing Yourself During The Pandemic

As speaking gigs grow fewer and further between, there are other things you can do with your time to build your personal brand and keep clients and potential clients engaged. You can create content related to your brand. In Dan’s case, this is the customer experience that will help people through these tough times when you share your expertise. Share stories about your clients and the companies in the public at large that are thriving during tough times. This could inspire people to adopt some of those successful strategies and become more successful themselves.

Now instead of sales pitches, you’re delivering valuable content to the people and companies in your sphere of influence. That’s something they can feel good about, which means they’ll attach those feelings to their experience with you. Take a step back from trying to sell your next keynote, and promote and value the human connection you have with people. When you do that, the people you reach out to will be there for you when the pandemic ends. Dan calls this “plugging the leaky bucket.” When you do this, your business grows because you’re retaining the people who already know, like and trust you – the people who can eventually hire you again or refer you to other people.

When you have meaningful relationships with people, they’re much more inclined to buy whatever it is that you’re selling. Ironically, this comes from communication that isn’t about selling. This includes social media channels such as LinkedIn. Don’t send a sales message to someone you haven’t met yet. Instead, connect with them and let them engage with your valuable content. Then you’ll have the start of a great, possibly profitable, relationship.

Think “How can I provide more value than my clients expected from me?” It’s a little more work to, but in the long run, it absolutely pays off.

What You’re REALLY Selling as A Professional Speaker

Eventually the time comes to sell; that’s how you grow your business as a professional speaker. When it comes down to it, you’re NOT selling a keynote speech. You ARE selling the experience of working with you. Meeting planners don’t like to work with speakers who have a long list of demands when they’re on site. They do like to work with speakers who are responsive, professional, and easy to work with. In short, don’t be a diva, and sell value to your customers instead!

Value could mean you help your clients promote their events. It could be giving away copies of your book if you have one. It could be having more pre-event meetings with them to make sure everything runs smoothly. It’s turning the focus on your customers’ experiences and away from you as the seller. One value-add that Dan has built into his contracts is that he will have as long a Q&A as his customer wants. He’ll stay there until every person’s questions are answered.

In Closing… The ONE Thing That You Need to Do to Provide An Exceptional Customer Experience

Know your audience! That goes for the buyer and the people in the audience. Customize your presentation for every audience to which you speak. In Dan’s case, no two speeches are ever the same. Learn about the audience and understand the industry so you can handpick stories and examples that will be useful for them and relevant to them. Dan thinks using the exact same slide deck for every audience is the cheap way out. This brings us back to value – add value by customizing your presentations by taking the time to understand what they most need to hear from you.

About The Guest

Dan Gingiss is a customer experience keynote speaker and coach who believes that a remarkable experience is your best sales and marketing strategy. His 20-year career included leadership positions at McDonald’s, Discover and Humana.

Dan is the author of Winning at Social Customer Care: How Top Brands Create Engaging Experiences on Social Media, a host of the Experience This! Show podcast and a regular contributor to Forbes. Learn more about him at www.dangingiss.com

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