The world is facing an unprecedented crisis in the wake of Novel Coronavirus which has brought the entire population to a standstill. The Governments all over the world are imposing various restrictions and guidelines to fight this pandemic situation. As the people are being advised to shut down business premises dealing in non-essential goods, most of the businesses are forced to switch to online mode of operation. 

The greatest challenge in this economically gloomy period is being faced by small and medium sized business houses. In this scenario, the skill to adapt and use networking to make new connections and keep the old ones alive plays a crucial role in survival. Be it the employees, the customers or the business partners, communication has become the key to hold on to the strings until things bounce back to normal again. 

Here are a few tips which the business houses can use to develop and maintain connections in these crippling times:

1. Social media and online platforms – Now is the time!

From basic WhatsApp to more professional LinkedIn and other platforms, there is hardly any soul out there who is not hooked to social networking apps and platforms. 

From avid users to even the most hesitant ones, social media and networking platforms have emerged in a brand new role in helping business houses keep their operations alive in some way or the other. 

Now that face to face interaction has gone out of the question, it is time to ramp up virtual customer interactions! Be active on all your online forums and keep in touch with your customers. Answer their queries and help them resolve any issues they may be having.

2. Gear up your email marketing tactics

Email marketing has been observed to be one of the most efficient online marketing techniques. Send your customers regular updates about your business, whether it is a change in working hours or any new initiative that you are taking up.

Actively managing customer appointments and interactions via email will help your business remain afloat in the midst of this crisis. It will also go a long way in proving your dedication towards serving your customers. 

Remember, it is a difficult time for everyone. Your emails should be directed towards spreading positivity and reassuring your audience. 

3. Pick up the phone and start dialing!

Virtual interaction allows very limited interaction with the customers. It is, in fact, much better to call them and address their issues.

The call need not be necessarily related to some issue or problem. It may be simply to drop in on old and loyal customers to see how they’re doing. For some businesses, it may even make sense to book phone sessions for customers. 

Unable to fulfill orders at the moment? Call your clients and explain your situation. Introducing a new update in your IT software? Call your clients and explain them how to upgrade to the latest version.

Phone calls are much personal and appreciated than cold emails. In these times of social distancing and self isolation, people will appreciate conversations and interactions with someone from the outside world.


4. Turn to video conferencing

Video conferencing has really taken off in the last few weeks. From online classes for students to business board meetings, video conferencing has enabled several institutions to go about their day-to-day business as usual.

As people work from their own homes and shelters, video conferences helps them get in touch with colleagues to make decisions. It is a fun way to get the work done and also boosts morale while in isolation.

While working from home, laziness might be at its peak and employees might be feeling demotivated and lethargic. Looking at the angry face of their boss can definitely get them back up on their feet in no time! 

Think about it like this – You can finally wear your PJs to work and even attend meetings in them! (But, hey, not on top!)

5. Make use of your voicemail

With call centers remaining closed, it might be difficult for some of you to take all customers calls. Thus, it becomes important to make use of the voicemail feature now, more than ever.

One could start with updating the voicemail greeting. The voicemail greeting is another way of keeping the public informed of what is going on with your company. It must be both professional and informative.

If you are unable to attend to customer calls immediately, you could provide a brief explanation in your greeting.

For example, “Our call center is currently closed. We apologise for the delay. Please leave a message and we will get back to you. Thank you for your patience!”

Even such a small message can go a long way in keeping the customers updated and happy. 

Following these tips will help your business stay connected to your customers and survive this economical crisis. However, one should keep in mind not to over-interact with customers.

For example, do not unnecessarily call your customers ever other day. Calling them once in a while works in your favour, but if it becomes too often then it might work against you.

Most of the people are under a lot of stress and anxiety in these uncertain times. Thus, one must take care to respect their privacy and give them the space that they need.

Small interactions go a long way in showing customer support. Do not let this crisis get the best out of your business. By staying focused and committed, businesses can survive this crisis. One must keep in mind that during this time, connections matter more than ever, especially for small businesses. 

Stay connected, stay healthy, stay safe. 

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