Reaching Out to Customers When Natural Disasters Strike
The recent impact of Hurricane Sandy on the East Coast was devastating, to say the least. Unprecedented damage in New York City caused the country’s busiest center of commerce to come to a standstill, and parts of the New Jersey coast will never be the same again. My old stomping grounds in Connecticut were hit like never when I lived there.
The disaster brought to mind an important element of sales that often we learn only through experience: how to reach out to customers who have experienced the worst nature can bring. You may have customers that were affected by Sandy and are perhaps still dealing with the aftermath. Reaching out to them shows your solidarity and can genuinely make a difference to their current situation.
Here are some tips on how you can make yourself available to customers who could potentially use a hand:
Get in Contact
Between the Internet, radio and television media outlets, news spreads more quickly than ever before. If disaster strikes and the power is still on, contact customers quickly either by phone, email or social media to express your concern about their well-being. If you’re connected on Facebook or LinkedIn, this is an immediate way to reach customers if calling isn’t an option. When Joplin was devastated by a tornado in 2011, it was through Facebook that we connected with several of our customers to be sure they were all safe.
Perhaps most importantly is to express concern on a personal level, checking in on their families and lending an ear to any stories they may have to share. Some customers may benefit simply from having someone to talk to about what they’ve experienced and where they’re headed. Any support you provide will mean a great deal to your customers.
Even though you may be far away, ask how you can help, and ask in a way that they know you will help if there is something you can help with. It’s been two weeks since Hurricane Sandy, but the impact is far from over. You can still reach out.
One Rhode Island customer I was speaking with today sent an email campaign to its top customers and prospects last week to offer assistance in restoring their networks. She’s sending another one this week. No, it won’t be free assistance. But knowing there is a company that has the expertise and can step in to provide assistance without a lengthy proposal and reference checking process is more important in a disaster.
Make a Donation
Making a donation isn’t always a possibility, but if you have the ability to do so it can be very helpful to customers who are suffering the aftermath of a natural disaster. Donations can be made to the area in which the disaster occurred and in the name of a customer. Every dollar adds up as we all know and your customers will appreciate that you’re thinking of them and their region.
Discuss Their Recovery Plan
After the disaster has settled a bit and the customer’s business is back in working order, discuss with them how their technology disaster recovery plan worked and what needs to be done to make it even more effective. Now that they’ve had to test it in a live situation, chances are they can contribute some very valuable feedback on their current plan’s effectiveness.
In a natural disaster the destruction takes years to repair. Your ongoing support as your customers rebuild their homes and their businesses will be genuinely appreciated and rewarded.