Shelter-in-place has practically ended face-to-face customer service. Online product sales may be on the rise, but what if you have an accounting service or a law office? If you own a professional services company, reaching and serving customers online may be the only way to survive in this new reality.
The good news is connecting digitally with customers, prospects and your remote colleagues has never been easier.
Here are 3 tips professional services businesses can adopt at a time when it’s anything but business as usual.
1. Keep the Communication & Collaboration Lines Open
Video conferencing and streaming is white hot. It seems, everyone — from comedians and DJs to doctors and lawyers –is finding a way to engage digitally. The surge is so strong, Netflix has taken steps so its subscribers’ don’t hog bandwidth.
For professional services firms, video technology like Zoom and Cisco’s WebEx is where it’s at. These services are quick and easy to set up and use. However, we recommend researching them before using to understand not just their usability, but also their security and privacy features.
Looking for other options?
- Microsoft teams is offering the premium version of its chat, video meeting and file storage platform for free.
- For G Suite users, there’s a free enterprise version of Google Hangouts with meeting recording and live streaming until July 1, 2020.
- LogMeIn is offering what it calls “Emergency Remote Work Kits” for free for 3 months. The technology enables video conferencing, webinars, IT support and management of remote employee devices and apps.
If you’re new to video conferencing, don’t stress about your style. The Internet is bursting with funny stories of humans learning to use the 21st century Internet. If you’re anxious, practice with family, friends and colleagues before going “live” with clients.
2. It’s Never Too Late to Embrace Social Media
You don’t have to be Melinda Gates to be a thought leader. LinkedIn’s professional social network can be a powerful tool to generate leads and market your business when people are at home glued to their devices. A steady drumbeat of thoughtful insights about your industry goes a long ways.
You may also want to set-up a company page. There are a number of comprehensive (and mostly free) resources to walk you through getting started.
To get the most out of social media, you may want to follow and connect with your clients and prospects, like and comment on posts, and join active industry groups on line where you can network with like-minded professionals.
Keep in mind, social media for business is more than just LinkedIn. Savvy firms, like Rockridge Venture Law, a certified B Corp in Tennessee, are engaging on Instagram with startups and younger entrepreneurs and cultivating a community. So don’t overlook the “funner” social media channels of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Of course, it’s not just about pushing out content. Listening matters too and you need to be prepared to address both the good and bad comments.
3. Get started podcasting
If you’re a little more outgoing, consider your own podcast to amplify your message and brand. The audience is certainly there. In 2019, nearly one out of three people listened to at least one podcast every month. One reason? It’s easy for listeners to passively tune in via a mobile device.
A popular format is the two-person interview or conversation. Podcasting is great for sharing your point of view on topics that interest your customers and prospects. Think creatively. Are there any customers or partners whom you could interview? Are there seasonal events and holidays where your service is especially relevant? Or tips and tricks that you consistently give to clients that could be turned into “news you can use” episodes?
Brainstorm with co-workers and look at the editorial calendars of trade publications to get ideas. The key is to keep a steady cadence, provide real insight, avoid sounding salesy, and stay entertaining. It’s not technically difficult or expensive to get started earning your “share of ear,” but you may want to invest in some equipment including a high-quality microphone, and headphones.
During this shelter-in-place, remember you’re not alone. COVID-19 has generated an enormous amount of public concern for small businesses. Local, state and federal organizations are offering aid, and small business relief funds are being rolled out by Verizon, Facebook, GoFundMe and others.