These are strange times indeed. Much has been said about how “unprecedented” this season of business life is for many of us. The team I lead here at LBMC is talented, energetic and focused. As we work with our clients, we strive to find unique problems that data-driven solutions would solve in a more efficient and effective way.

However, during this time of stay-at-home orders, several of our clients have had to slow down or stop our work altogether, as they themselves shifted to more of a survival mode. So, we’ve been asking ourselves…what can we do for them while they are working to simply breathe and stay alive?

Here are a few ways to put your clients’ needs first during this challenging time.

Remain Human

Since we first went to a 100% work-from-home environment on March 16, the very first question I asked my team was “How are our clients doing?” We began systematically reaching out to communicate with our clients to ask one question: “How are you doing?” I had one customer who was surprised that there was not another question behind that one. He was expecting (like he gets from most vendors) the follow-up question: “So, now for the real reason I called. Would you buy more of our services?” For him, it was a breath of fresh air to simply be cared for.

Remember – clients are human beings who have fears, who are struggling to figure out how to make work-at-home function well with kids and family at home, and who may have had to lay off a number of employees. The pandemic has been and continues to be hard for everyone. Do not forget the human factor.

Offer Free Training

During this uncertain time, there are people who have been laid off or furloughed who want to “level-up,” and companies looking to improve their employees’ skills. We decided to get practical and began offering several free training sessions on some of the technologies we implement – for example, Power BI Dashboard-in-a-Day and other events. Leveraging your expertise to help your clients now will pay off dividends in the long run.

Reduce Service Fees

A few of our clients were hit extremely hard and were wondering if they were even going to survive. We worked with them to reduce our fees and helped those we could. To be part of the long-term solution, we’ve continued to offer fee reduction as we go forward. While we know our team, their skills, and their time is worth much more, offering discounts to our clients is how we can serve them now. If you can afford it, offering reduced fees to your clients in the short term will build trust over the long term.

Improve Your Processes

When we first saw the slowdown coming, I challenged my team to consider this a time of strengthening. What did this mean for us? Look at every process, every piece of code we write, every solution we build. Look at everything we do, which includes evaluating our own skills and finding ways to strengthen and improve them. How does self-evaluation help clients? Focusing on improving current processes and capabilities enables us to bring better solutions with higher value to our customers. Take advantage of the downtime to enhance your team’s skills and your company’s processes. By being better at what you do, you will help your clients be better.

Increase Your Contact

Last, but not least, we have increased contact with our clients – not so we can sell more, but rather, so we can make sure we’re keeping up with them and the rapidly changing business landscape they face. Proactive communication allows us to know if we need to pivot from our current work to focus on higher priority items. For example, we have been able to help some of our customers with immediate analytics solutions that solved COVID-related problems they were facing, such as improving their labor costs through key analytics focused on labor data.

As a result of truly listening to clients, you have insight that enables you to partner with them in creating unique solutions. At LBMC Data Insights, we have found this to be an incredible opportunity for innovation, not only within our team of data architects, engineers and analysts, but also working with other LBMC experts in technology, cyber security and audit divisions. As we hear new client needs arising from the COVID environment, we can partner with them by exploring creative solutions to problem solve for them. This collaboration is not only valuable and rewarding for the clients, but it is also empowering for our teams across the organization.

Take time to reach out to your clients so they know you are there for them during this time. Proactive communication will not only improve your relationships with them but could also be a tremendous catalyst to delivering value to your clients.

High-performing and successful teams differentiate themselves from others by how they respond in a crisis. The silver lining of the virus is it has reinforced the culture of why I built this business in the first place – for our clients. Putting your clients’ needs first is critical now more than ever. Taking care of your customers – in good times and in challenging times – will set you apart.