Seldom is there a time when the entire world — not city, not state, not even the country, but the world — are all in the same situation. But here we are. Together. Yet apart.
There's no denying it's a scary time. We're all concerned about the physical and emotional health and safety of our loved ones, our employees and ourselves. We're also concerned about the financial health of our businesses. Whether or not we're deemed "essential", we all need a fighting chance to keep our businesses open.
Initial panic has turned into resiliency.
A week ago there seemed to be a cloud of panic amongst small business owners. Not that it no longer exists, but that debilitating fear factor seems to have been largely replaced with resiliency — a trait that sits in one's belly ready to respond when threatened and guess what? He's/she's ready to rumble!
This resiliency was likely sparked by a few things:
- Time: Time to digest what's happening, time to react, time to breakdown, and time to stand back up and strategize
- Drive: Entrepreneurs' innate drive to succeed
- Hope: Stimulus packages, payment plans, and other financial leniencies, plus promissory vitamins, vaccine timelines and recoveries
Speaking of hope, recent data suggests buyers are seeking out and interacting with businesses more today than a month ago. This is at least partially due to the fact that stay-at-home orders and business closures have moved many transactions online out of necessity, but it shows that for now, buyers are still looking to engage.
Now, budgets and industry-specific impacts from COVID-19 will inevitably affect sales cycles, but hope spurs conversations, which leads to opportunities, which can ultimately lead to sales.
It's time to start conversations.
Pre-pandemic, you may have been lost for a conversation starter. Let's face it, talking about the weather gets old. But now, the often overused and easily dismissed question, 'How are you?' gets a far more sincere response than the usual, 'Fine, thanks.' Now there are conversations about family, health, and business. These door openers are all opportunities to make a connection in a brand new way.
These conversations may not be happening face-to-face (stay home, save lives people!) but they are happening — over the phone 1:1 or via conference calls, via Zoom or other online video chat tools; via your website forms or even chatbots.
Let's assume by now you've got enough information on the first two means of communicating with customers and prospects. But what about the third way?
Your website is an important source of business right now.
Customers are initiating more interactions with businesses today than they were a year ago and doing more research online. Why? My bet is because they have a bit more time on their hands, are less distracted by more mundane tasks and are focused on moving their business forward. They are in proactive strategy mode. Are you ready for them? Is your website?
Data shows that average monthly website traffic increased by 13% in March, compared to February. That means it's a great time to dust off your website plans or start creating one. It doesn't need to be 100 pages long. Better to have 3-5 robust web pages that focus on what you can do to help customers right now than spend time forecasting the future.
Chatbots help you have more conversations.
And weekly chat volume via onsite chat and Facebook Messenger increased 5% after March 16, based on previous Q1 global weekly averages. In fact, chat volume has steadily increased over the last two months, and we believe this number is likely to continue growing.
And if you think chatbots are insincere robots, think again. The conversations, while automated, come from you. They can be written to sound like you — they're your questions, in your tone and personality. And at any time you can take the conversation offline. Users like chatbots as a means of conversational marketing because it offers a real-time way to answer their questions. And the benefit to you is that it automates the lead routing process so your business can serve prospective and existing customers even when your team is out of the office.
Investing in chatbots to get customers' answers more quickly, automate lead qualification or book meetings can help your company meet the increase in customer inquiries and do so safely.
If you need help creating ways to start conversations in this Coronavirus situation and beyond, shoot us an email or start a conversation with our own chatbot. She's very friendly. :-)
Stay safe, my friend!