In the days of COVID-19, any sense of normalcy has been thrown out the window. Businesses are closing their doors (unsure they’ll ever reopen), millions are unemployed, and the unknown hangs heavy.
It’s hard to predict what “business as usual” will look like a month from now but that doesn’t mean you stand in place. Now is the time for social media management agencies to prioritize account management. More importantly, it’s time to be a good human.
Your client relations will be remembered long after the pandemic lifts. It’s not a question of if you should proactively reach out, it’s a question of how.
Generally speaking, you should work to do the following when approaching client communications:
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Address fears surrounding the loss of business
Right now, the loss of business is real for many industries. Now is a great time to be proactive and check in. The businesses that survive the hard weeks and months ahead will be those that did everything they could to help their clients succeed.
How you communicate (or don’t) will impact your client relationships over the long-term. If they do have to pause, be helpful and memorable in a way that will grow the relationship for when it’s appropriate to work together in the future (or when they know of someone to recommend your services).
At any rate, some businesses are feeling it more than others and it’s only a matter of time before everyone sees the lasting impact on the economy. There’s no use dancing around the facts. However, you can acknowledge these fears in a sensitive and considerate way.
When drafting an email to clients, avoid robotic-feeling templates. Instead, make it personalized and sincere. Your client is a person — a person grappling with fear and anxiety, just like everyone else.
Hey [Client name],
It feels like yesterday we were sitting across from each other — sipping lattes, brainstorming campaigns, and looking forward to our vacations. How quickly things change!
I wanted to take a moment to check-in. How are you doing? Did you manage to get a home office up and running? How’re your kids?
Rather than jumping straight into business, ask questions that show genuine interest in their well-being. It sounds like this is something that would go without saying but panic can easily distract us from what matters.
In addition to asking questions, open up about your own fears. There’s comfort and support in common ground.
Talk about priorities and needs
Really listen as you discuss next steps. Don’t just go through the “check-in” motions.
Ask questions about how your client is currently managing business operations:
Before jumping to conclusions, get a feel for the current state of their business. Then present your own insights:
Come prepared with actionable ideas based on what you’ve seen or experimented with. As businesses look to cut costs, emphasize your value with thoughtful solutions.
Discuss the need for potential changes in strategy
There are two kinds of brands that operate on social media: those that see their followers as part of a community and those that see their followers as dollar signs.
Those in the latter group have campaigns on auto-pilot with outdated subject lines on their marketing emails. They still punked their customer base with cheesy April Fools posts.
Your clients should avoid being part of that group. Instead, take out your client’s 30-60-90-day plan and review your calendar of scheduled social media posts. As you plan social messaging, consider both the frequency and types of posts to create.
There’s nothing wrong with promoting your business offerings, but do it consciously. It will require finesse to get people cooped up in their homes to buy makeup, instead of hand sanitizer.
Rather than asking what your client can sell, ask what they can do for their social media community?
The answer could be:
Even if sales are slow, they don’t have to be slow indefinitely. At the end of this, people will remember brands with humanity — and support them accordingly when the dust starts to settle.
Identify ways to reduce or optimize services offered
Speaking of what your clients can do for their customers and followers, think about your own actions.
Account management during COVID-19 is not about upsells. It’s about strengthening relationships and retention.
Of course, you have to be conscious of your cash flow and resources. It may not be feasible to hand out freebies.
That doesn’t mean you can’t review hours and identify opportunities to provide additional value. For example, reallocate hours from paid social efforts to brand messaging strategy instead. Maybe you can find an opportunity to connect your client with another local brand’s crowdfunding efforts.
If you can throw in extra hours at no cost to provide immediate relief and value to your client, they’ll remember it down the road. Relationships remain, even as businesses come and go.
Final Thoughts: How to approach account management during the COVID-19 pandemic
Running a business during a pandemic isn’t easy for anyone. Keep that commonality top-of-mind as you approach your account management efforts now and in the months ahead.
Social media matters, so you may see your services grow for some industries that are seeing more business, while noticing a reduction in budget from other clients. Just understand that it’s okay to prospect for new clients who need social media attention or don’t know how to navigate their messaging during this situation.
Being flexible, understanding, and communicative in the worst of times will truly speak to your ability to foster success in the best of times.