Communication Coach: Lead change to steady customer confidence

Photo: Warchi/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images
(Photo: Warchi/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images)


You’ve been here before.

Customers are wondering about their relationship with your company.

Everything is back on the table.

You have to acknowledge the current conditions. Then take bold steps to change the narrative.

These are historic times. Communication nowadays can be tricky. Your message may not be received as you had expected.

For this reason, my suggestion is to overreact.

Overreacting sounds reckless, doesn’t it? Teenagers are often called out for overreacting. Yet, most adults have the opposite tendency.

Do you remember the 1982 Tylenol scare?

I do because we had just moved to Chicago where it happened. People were scared because they didn’t understand how such a terrible thing was possible or what to do next.

Every consumer felt vulnerable. It broke our confidence in the entire system.

Johnson & Johnson is still around and thriving today because the CEO didn’t just take action, he overreacted.

In a staggeringly costly move, Tylenol was stripped from all the shelves across America.

That decision showed courageous leadership that was questioned at the time. Now it’s held up as a case study for what to do in situations like this.

People Are Looking For Leadership

Right now, people are distracted. They are scared because suddenly the future doesn’t make sense.

Our job as business owners is taking action to keep us informed, but about what?

In its recent newsletter, Mariani Landscape mentioned this is the company’s 62nd year in business. It’s reassuring for customers to know that you have weathered a few storms, but don’t stop there.

Use your communication channels to share stories about challenges your business helped its customers overcome. They want to know that you care, know what to do and are committed to making what needs to happen.

We’ll be looking back and talking about this one in the future.

What will you be saying that speaks to your company’s values and leadership? More importantly, what will your customers be saying?

Customers are looking for action. That’s what they will remember. In times like these, perfection is the enemy of action.

If you studied Maslow’s hierarchy of needs in school, you understand that survival comes before higher needs that are nice to have but nonessential.

That’s something to talk about with customers. How do they perceive your landscaping, lawn or tree care services? In stressful times, a beautiful outdoor space may be a comforting sanctuary.

What used to be a “want to have” may now be considered a basic need.

Marketers talk a lot about the customer journey, what it’s like to discover, acquire and use the products and services their company offers.

You can expect that journey to be changed forever.

Thus, the narrative associated with it has to change too. This includes your website, newsletters, sales collateral and social media.

Our plan at Landscape Digital Institute is this: We are going to understand our clients so well that we can talk their talk, think their thoughts, dream their dreams and feel their fears.

Then we’ll get busy being the company that helps them through this.

How about you? I’d love to hear your ideas.

Jeff Korhan

Jeff Korhan

Jeff Korhan is the owner of True Nature Marketing, a Naples, Fla.-based company helping entrepreneurs grow. Reach him at jeff@truenature.com. Jeff works with service companies that want to drive growth and enhance their brand experience with digital platforms.

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