SMEs are perfectly positioned to capitalise on the personal touch they’re able to bring to client relationships. And, as furlough ends, it’s something that people need now more than ever.
As the world emerges from the impact of Covid – and the various strategies employed to mitigate its damage on the economy, such as the furlough scheme – it’s no surprise that businesses large and small are facing a whole new set of challenges.
While unemployment figures have been kept in check (thanks to the government spending £70m on the furlough scheme up to the beginning of July 2021) it’s clear that we’re not out of the woods just yet.
Although the labour market is improving, Suren Thiru, head of economics at the British Chambers of Commerce, has warned that businesses are still recovering from the pandemic and rebuilding their finances.
And of course, while there’s a dearth of HGV drivers and the NHS is short of more than 36,000 nurses, there are many industries that are struggling to see a way forward, most notably, aviation, retail, hospitality and cultural and arts businesses.
With so many people’s lives still in flux, counting on those you feel you can trust, who will go the extra mile to help you, is now more important than ever. This presents SMEs with the opportunity to step up to the plate at a moment in time that’s proving challenging for everyone.
Unlike large corporations and global operators, SMEs have the ability to create and build meaningful relationships with their clients, particularly as, during these turbulent times, there’s a general trend of consumers wanting to support their local communities and businesses.
However, the approach to providing a great customer experience post-furlough has to be just right. The emphasis must be on providing support, building trust – and tailoring your service to meet each client’s individual requirements.
US change management organisation McKinsey & Company advises that, with so much uncertainty, people want a resource they feel has their best interests at heart, urging businesses to offer genuine support to reconnect with clients. For example:
Make it easy for customers to access information about you and the products and services you can provide
Respond quickly to any queries they may have
Listen to the problems that they are really concerned about and find solutions. Remember that it’s often big life events that make people think about getting financial advice – such as having a child, losing a parent or switching careers after redundancy
Be knowledgeable and helpful – use everyday language, concrete examples, explain things clearly and carefully and make sure your client fully understands everything you discuss
Follow-up any interactions with a courtesy call or email and ask if there’s anything else you can help with
While building trust takes time, operating your business via an Unbiased plan automatically gives potential clients instant reassurance that you are regulated and qualified, as well as making it easier for them to find you. Also:
Be open and transparent about what you do, how you do it and what customers can expect of you
Deliver on your promises to show that you can be depended upon to follow through on any commitments that you make
Be proactive – clients will trust you once they’re confident you're getting things done and they don't have to chase you
Share your best reviews, testimonials and case studies to demonstrate that your business is worthy of their trust
It’s never been more important to take the time to really understand each customer’s circumstances and help them feel that, with your expertise, they can take control of their finances. It just takes a little time and effort to provide that valued personal touch:
Research your client’s needs, issues and pain points to help you develop tailored solutions
Ask questions to find out what’s most important to them – If you can uncover what really matters to your client, you can fit together the pieces of the financial puzzle to help them achieve their goals
Demonstrate that you’re providing a bespoke service not a one-size fits all – someone running a busy haulage business will be in a very different position to a client who’s rebuilding a hospitality enterprise
Emphasise that you’re here to provide them with all the information and expertise they need to help them make the right decisions – this can feel very empowering, and clients will appreciate this approach
McKinsey also points to the ever-growing importance of adopting a sleek, super-efficient efficient digital strategy, emphasising that digital-led experiences will continue to grow in popularity once the coronavirus is quelled – and those businesses that get on board will have the edge.
Developing a robust digital marketing strategy can help SMEs perfect inbound marketing, analyse key marketing metrics, use lead generation platforms and, importantly, stay in touch with existing and potential clients. Essentially, to reach your business goals, adopting a well-planned digital marketing strategy is vital in the current climate.
Remote consulting also looks set to stay. A recent survey of professionals on the Unbiased platform revealed that 86% plan to continue remote consulting on a regular basis once social distancing comes to an end.
Pre-Covid, almost one third of advisers had never offered this option. And working this way has unexpected benefits – from reducing travel time (thereby allowing for more actual consultation time), and spending less on office space, to giving you the opportunity to access a wider geographical spread of clients.
Recently, Unbiased launched a new range of products to connect financial professionals with customers. The four distinct products are tailored to businesses of any size and enable financial advisers, mortgage brokers and accountants to adapt to current restrictions by facilitating online promotion and remote consultations.
This development couldn’t have come at a better time as the Unbiased survey also revealed 90% of professionals stated that they had seen a negative impact on their business from the Covid lockdown.
Becoming part of the Unbiased Pro network means you’ll have the tools you need to grow your business in a changed world – and you’ll join an ever-expanding network of professional advisers who use our service to connect with their next client. See how Unbiased can benefit your business and increase your ROI.