Expect the unexpected. We’ve all heard this, but in the last few weeks, it’s now more relevant than ever before. So what does it mean when it comes to business, and how can you plan for such an event?

The simple answer is always to be looking to what are the things that you can control, and what you can influence. While so many areas are completely out of our control and unfortunately for some like travel, events and hospitality, there is very little you can do until it passes. It’s time to bunker down to survive so you can reset and go hard when it’s back.

The challenges ahead

For many other businesses, there is still activity in your market, and your challenge is, how do you be the business people choose to buy from? Make no mistake for many market supply is massively going to exceed market demand, and therefore the predictable impact is price discounting. The real issue is that so many will discount themselves into bankruptcy and prolong the challenges for everyone else. There will be some truly stupid pricing models advertised as a desperate measure to survive, it’s called the Price Trap, and this is what you must avoid.

The Price Trap kills bottom line margin, and most don’t even know they are stuck in it, they see it as ‘that’s the competitive space we are in’. However, there is a unique opportunity to define your point of difference. You must look at how can you provide the most exceptional customer service possible, and how can your team and business be delightful to deal with. This doesn’t cost anything more than focus and commitment, and this is where many will fail as they don’t understand the power of excellent customer experience.

Be exceptional at every touchpoint

This current crisis has more emotion attached to it than any other situation we have experienced for at least thirty years (the last recession) and with it a straightforward rule for every business who wants to survive. When we are in a personal crisis, we always remember those who support us, those who are there, those we can trust to do the right thing, those we grow to appreciate genuinely. Business right now is the same, and we will remember the suppliers who look out for us and do what they can to be the best they can for us, a true professional as a supplier, the ones who keep in touch and make sure they are there by our side. In return, we will go out of our way to support them and make sure they too can count on us for their order. Be exceptional to your clients, and they will give you back the same. When a cheaper offer knocks on the door, they will virtually feel guilty to not chose you. While in some cases the price will win it’s a sound belief they will be back. Usually, a lower price means lower trust and service.

Cheap won’t make you great, but great will make you cheap.

What are the simple things you can do to stay highly relevant amongst all the drama that’s happening? Do the simple things exceptionally well, things like:

  • make personal phone calls to check in with them, don’t make it a sales call make it a genuine call for support
  • find out what the impact is and see how you can help, it may be to reduce their stock, allow them to stretch delivery times etc., find out how you can avoid being a concern to them
  • understand their market and think about how you can be a source of referrals, if you’re a trusted supplier then your referral will be gold for them to a new prospect. If you can win new business for your clients, they will reward you with loyalty.
  • Who do you know as a supplier of yours that you may be able to refer in, what if you can get them a better service and what if you may happen to solve a challenge they were having.
  • No matter what, be in communication as best you can, its from conversations that we learn things about our clients and the one challenge for most of the market will not be how to thrive but rather how to survive.

Make sure every member of your team is clear and focused on the need to be the greatest in customer service, now more then ever their jobs depend upon it. A company with a highly focused and engaged team will collectively keep the business secure and in many cases, save it and also set it up for massive growth when this crisis passes.