According to a recent White House report, manufacturing, construction, retail, and wholesale trade are the industries most impacted by the pandemic-induced global supply chain disruption. Frustratingly though, many companies in Australia are experiencing record demand along with a diminished ability to supply. However, this could be your opportunity to improve customer engagement and elevate brand image to prepare for the time when supply lines become more fluid.
The current supply chain issues are not only attributable to the semi-conductor chip shortage (have you tried to buy a Play Station 5 lately?). Worker shortages and transport disruptions are major impediments to service delivery and for those affected, it’s easy to get bogged down in the internal mechanics of finding solutions to these issues.
But this is a time for companies to also focus on their customers, and innovation beyond the immediate problems, preparing for a competitive advantage to come out of the crisis even stronger.
Here are five sure-proof ways to enhance customer engagement and brand image during the supply chain disruption:
1. Communicate proactively with your customers: It’s critical you own the narrative. Stay active and involved, rather than letting customers, competitors or the media make assumptions on your behalf. Be honest with your customers about delays and don’t make them work to find answers that you can supply. Strive to prevent misinformation from entering the conversation.
Develop your key messaging asap and ensure that everyone in your organisation knows and understands it, especially your salesforce and customer-facing employees.
Don’t be afraid of admitting you don’t have all the answers. Because of the pandemic, the public’s tolerance of uncertainty has increased. Just don’t make promises you can’t keep and resist the urge to tell people only what they want to hear. Be factual. Be positive.
2. Identify new support channels for customers: Especially critical for B2Bs, listen to your customers to understand how the supply issue impacts their business, then identify other means of support or value-add to help them. In the case of manufacturing, for example, can you offer deals on repair and maintenance programmes to extend the lifecycle of current assets? Can you redirect resources from manufacturing new items, to upgrading second-hand products, or reconditioning parts?
3. Keep your customers close: Never has it been more important for your salesforce to maintain close contact with your customers, even if they can’t sell a product to them, or if the customer has been forced to buy elsewhere. Give your customers an ear to complain to. Better yours than a competitor’s.
4. Continue marketing and advertising: Don’t stop promoting your products and business. Instead, redirect focus to available products and promote your brand quality and values. Build demand and increase aspiration.
5. Share your good news stories: Take every opportunity to promote your corporate social responsibility agenda and activities. Also, communicate the ways your company is adapting to support staff and customers in the current environment. This reinforces your company’s long-term commitment to employees, customers, the industry and the broader community.
Remember, you are a critical part of your customer’s story.
For more advice on what strategies to implement in your business during the supply chain disruption, contact Communications Task Force today.
About Julie Skerman & Communications Task Force
Julie is a passionate and commercially minded communication, marketing, brand, and stakeholder engagement professional. With over 25 years’ experience, Julie loves working with leaders and organisations to formulate strategy to transform high-level business aspirations and objectives into optimal results. She thrives on leading brand vision, communications strategy, and culture with local and global organisations.
Communications Task Force is a Brisbane-based communications consultancy, providing independent and effective strategies for business leaders, managers, and brands.
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