In the midst of COVID-19, protecting customer relationships is more important than ever before. Whether a business is struggling due to lockdown restrictions or booming due to new consumer demands — customers have never been more important. Despite the difficulty and uncertainty caused by the pandemic, it’s absolutely possible to excel in this area.
Para Mobility is a manufacturer and supplier of quality equipment to help the elderly or those with a disability to move from a car, a bed, or in and out of a home or pool. Its customers include users of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), construction companies and architects, health facilities such as aquatic centres and occupational therapists and other health professionals.
General manager Sally Farrow says despite hurdles caused by border closures, restricted travel and supply, the company has recorded its highest-ever customer satisfaction and quality assurance ratings.
“It was about making sure that customers really were the first thing that we thought of whenever we were trying to find a solution for something,” she says.
Here she shares her experiences and tips for other business owners.
Apply a big dose of care factor
With roadblocks for delivery of equipment, Para Mobility made the decision to prioritise customers most in need.
The team prioritised families with immune-compromised children and carers who knew they would have to be isolated for some time, and delayed delivery to commercial clients.
“We went through every single customer currently in our manufacturing process and all our prospective customers and we classified each one as who would need it — if their life was impacted without that equipment, that was a need.”
Farrow says they contacted construction and architect firms and negotiated to push back their deliveries of equipment for building projects — many of which were delayed due to lockdowns — and received very positive responses.
Go above and beyond (and pivot a little)
With delivery disrupted Farrow says the key was to simplify the business’s operations and focus on serving customers however they could.
Large trade events were cancelled, so that left staff with more time to focus on clients. It also allowed them to solve the issue of supply.
The Para Mobility team had to bend their own rules and be flexible for the benefit of their customers in this time of crisis.
They deployed their trade show stock to flow into the demo stock so it could be shipped around the country to allow customers to trial the equipment, as they were unable to visit pools or hospitals.
That singular focus also meant delivery times dropped from up to six weeks to one to three weeks, which Farrow says is an absolute win for our customers and our team internally.
“We were very pleasantly surprised when we had a look at our key business metrics dashboard [in Salesforce] and how they had changed in the pandemic period because of that simplified focus.
Find new ways to communicate
Border closures and travel restrictions meant staff could no longer travel to install the equipment. So Para Mobility ramped up its video technology to assist local partners delivering and setting up the equipment, but also to show customers to use it once installed.
It has worked so well, Farrow says it may become a staple part of their customer relationships strategy moving forward.
“We’ve had a lot of success with those conversations and training,” she says. “This immediacy is quite helpful. They know that we can get on the phone and by video and get that help straight away.”
The team also stepped up its one-on-one communication with customers to reassure them the product was on its way. And virtual trade shows have now replaced physical events which require complex logistics for equipment and staff time.
Establish a great customer database
Farrow says having the right tech systems in place is the best way to ensure a smooth customer relationships experience.
Farrow introduced the Salesforce platform to streamline customer information and ensure each team member can confidently deal with any client — all the information is at their fingertips. She also wanted a system to make each client’s experience less complex.
“Accessing assistive technology can be a complex and often emotionally charged process to gain approval, so our business systems are set up to manage the complex stakeholder management that comes with procuring assistive technology,” she says.
Farrow says there isn’t a single way to maintain strong customer relations during a pandemic, but advises it’s a combination of ensuring you have the right systems in place, you communicate effectively with your team and clients and you’re able to find innovative, resourceful ways to solve the inevitable challenges caused by the pandemic.
Salesforce, the global leader in customer relationship management (CRM), empowers companies to connect with their customers in a whole new way.