Welcome to the next article in my series: The freelance revolution during COVID 19.” In past articles we surveyed freelance platform CEOs and thought leaders on several topics: in demand freelance skills following COVID 19, how platforms are supporting their most important asset - their talent, and the impact of COVID 19 on pricing and project flow.
The question this round:
What have you found most effective in engaging current customers, and past and potential future customers, during the pandemic? What’s been most helpful in generating new business or reinforcing client loyalty? What’s one new investment you’ll keep post COVID?
The big message, loud and clear: there is no playbook to follow. As you sample the comments from 30 CEOs and thought leaders from NYC to Sydney, it’s evident that anything and everything is on the table. Most say they are staying in closer touch with customers, offering exemplary service and support, and providing best practice guidance on remote work and the shift to a more flexible, blended workforce. Almost all say that human connection is the right tone for this time. Webinars and other educational offerings are clearly valued, and seems likely to continue post COVID.
Here’s what CEOs had to say:
James Sandoval, CEO of MeasureMatch (UK): “We’re light on customer comms, but highly personal when we get in touch. This appears much appreciated. In generating new business and reinforcing loyalty, we’re focused on an especially empathetic, human commitment to customer care. There is no “post COVID” world in our view. We’re focused on helping companies be more successful, which spurs more crisis-alleviating hiring and creates demand for professional services platforms to further accelerate.”
Mathias Linnemann, CEO of Worksome (Denmark): ”Our most successful initiative is communicating how businesses can build resilience by creating an agile workforce. One new activity we’ll continue is webinars on how to work with freelancers, providing tools needed for success. We've increased our service level to help clients and freelancers and put more effort into advising business leaders on changes needed now to reinforce their competitive edge in future.”
Darpan Munjal, CEO of Squadhelp (US): “We have implemented big changes to our messaging: messaging that is bright, helps instill confidence, and brings a smile: We want a positive brand in these uncertain time and have seen positive marketing results.”
Florent Ogoutchoro,CEO of TheTechGuys (Benin) : “Being able to offer flexible payment plans and a more tailored experience with guarantees really helps us to connect more with existing customers and attract new ones. It is something we will keep doing after the pandemic.”
Marc Daniel, CEO of Nextwork (Canada): “Building our community, connecting with freelancers and clients on a personal level, is who we are. We’re taking time to speak to each client, hear their stories, tell them ours, and better understand their needs. This approach has created stronger ties and driven growth. Important before the pandemic but now ‘mission critical’.
Miles Everson, CEO of MBO Partners (US): “We began thought leadership in early March, following with content and tools related to the CARES Act . We are now speaking with clients about the need for a modern business model that puts independent talent at the forefront of an effective workforce strategy.”
Bryan Chan, CEO of THeNightMrkt (Singapore). “We are conducting surveys, and holding conversations with stakeholders. We want their thoughts on how to best help clients emerge from this crisis stronger. We want stakeholders to know we are with them. We may not always provide the perfect solution, but we're trying.”
Anas Nader, NHS Doctors and CEO of Patchwork Health (UK): “We’re a healthtech company working with NHS Trusts and hospitals. Since the outbreak of the pandemic we’ve set up regional COVID-19 “staffing banks” for NHS hospitals to pool resources and easily redeploy clinicians where they are needed most, and created new services like faster credential passporting. We are listening to our customers, and being flexible, responsive, and focused, demonstrating their priorities are ours.”
Chandrika Pasricha, CEO of Flexing It (India): “We’ve developed detailed case studies by industry to help clients use freelancers better. We’re developing a diagnostic tool to assess client readiness to work with freelancers. Our account management teams are working proactively with business heads. We’ve organised industry panels with experts on key topics. We are also working with HR heads to structure creative solutions.”
Nitin Kunimmal, CEO of Avvnue (US): “Our marketing focus was generating articles and blog posts but the pandemic has led us to webinars and a 2X jump in participation and engagement. LinkedIn Live is another underutilized platform. These are new areas we’ll use to grow.”
Rishon Blumberg, Co-CEO of 10xmanagement (US): “We’re in regular contact with customers and clients (talent). We’ve found great service engenders loyalty and produces opportunity. We’re doubling down on quality, and communicating best practices during and after projects are completed. Customer satisfaction, our goal at all times, is even more important now.”
Hugo Finkelstein, CEO of Rise (US): “We’re taking extra steps with customers, curating their search. We’ll continue to provide that experience post pandemic. Our community is more engaged and loyal knowing the white glove service they get.”
Alex Hirst, Co-CEO of Hoxby (UK): “Our #remoteagainstcoronavirus campaign consolidated our best advice and guidance for remote working. We’ve also started a support community, RemoteWorkmates.com to bring newly and seasoned remote workers together as “crisis buddies” and will continue this beyond COVID-19. Everything we’ve learned is available to clients through our Futureproofing consultancy to help them navigate life and work after COVID-19.”
Marc Ibrahim, CEO of Ashghali (Lebanon): “We learned our customers respond to feedback requests, and received many suggestions to optimize customers’ experience. We emphasize safety measures in our newsletter. This helped us reinforce community, which is essential to our brand.”
Leslie Garçon, Co-founder of Weem (France): “We’ve strengthened the link with customers through calls, newsletters and webinars focusing on rising topics (e.g. digital transformation, cost reduction). We’ve increased our visibility on social networks through targeted articles. The feedback from customers and consultants on our webinars encourages us to keep organizing digital events that spotlight our competencies.”
Mansur Ziganshin, CEO of Pochmark (US): “Pochmak is a research platform for investors like PE firms. We must understand the challenges they are facing by partnering with them and assisting their research. To be successful you need to be obsessed by delivering top expertise.”
Srivatsan Padmanabhan, Co-founder of Go Floaters (India): “We’ve published a comprehensive guide on remote work, and 21 days of tips on entrepreneurship. We’ve run a successful webinar series offering expert, actionable, knowledge. We stay in contact with customers and have helped them save cost by leveraging our community partnerships. We earned a lot of goodwill and will continue this post-COVID.”
Thienthun Neesanant, CEO of Skill Solved (Thailand): “We’ve organized webinars on employer branding with clients (over 130+ leaders attended) and sent helpful articles to clients to show we are in this together during difficult times.”
Rob Biederman, Co-CEO of Catalant (US): “We've shifted heavily toward webinars. We’ve secured compelling speakers — like the Transformation Office of Koch Industries—and some webinars have reached nearly a thousand registrants. We've ramped up website investments, content marketing, and email activity to share relevant, engaging content and digital experiences. Visitors spend now more time on our website per session, viewing 45% more pages.”
Sheila Mahoney-Jewels, Co-founder of Lifecihub (US): “Our freelancers are life sciences experts supporting pharma clinical trials. We are focused on educating HR and procurement on the value of freelancers in our space. Still deciding whether to shift budget towards advertising and promotion to spark demand.”
Jeffrey Moss, CEO of Parker Dewey (US): “As companies consider fall campus recruiting, they increasingly include “freelancing as a pathway” among their strategies. When companies get comfortable with remote work, they recognize discrete projects can identify, assess, and nurture prospective candidates for full-time roles if traditional on-campus recruiting isn’t possible.”
Scott Cole, CMO of AceUp (US): "We've put enormous emphasis on current coaching customers during the pandemic, going above and beyond in service to them and offering complimentary additional benefits in any way we are able. By expressing loyalty and commitment to them in a time of crisis, we know it will strengthen our relationships long into the future."
Charly Gaillard, CEO of Senakers & Jackets (France): “We’re more focused on supporting existing customers than recruiting new business. Some clients have stopped projects to reduce expense; others are keeping projects alive. For clients in highly impacted industries (transportation, tourism) we’ve had to find different ways to work efficiently and have been creative in solution finding.”
Emma El Karout, CEO One Circle HR (Dubai and South Africa): “Our customers are looking for hands-on experts to help them navigate this period. We’ve developed targeted content with our community of HR experts and engaged clients, and strengthened collaborations with existing professional bodies to boost their capabilities and our relationships.”
Anthony Beilin, CEO of COllective Benefits (UK): “We’ve found it best to engage our customers by highlighting use of our products, which are critical to clients' workforces in this pandemic. It’s led to an automated engagement system which is reinforcing loyalty and attracting new clients. We’ve also focused effort on rebuilding our platform. The results have been very impactful and we will continue this focus in the future.”
Bridget Loudon, CEO of Experts360 (Australia): “We’ve increased our outreach to customers, and frequently check in both personally and professionally. Sharing market intelligence with customers, how companies are coping and preparing for change, has been well received. In response to client needs, we have set up private cloud environments, enabling clients to keep in contact with key freelancers, provide updates, and re-engage as need arises. We’ve responded quickly, creating bespoke platforms for clients who want to keep their on-demand workforces engaged and ready for the rebound.”
Lisa Hufford, CEO of Simplicity Consulting (US): “We are regularly reaching out to clients, connecting on a human level, sharing content that helps leaders weather the storm. Our actionable SPEED™ strategy enables leaders to build on-demand teams and keep business moving—a big draw now. In future, we will focus on agility in video storytelling and marketing, trading scripted content for less-polished footage that’s high value, topical, and authentic.”
Liza Rodewald, CEO of Instant Teams (US): “COVID led to an empathy-first approach. We are reaching out to customers, showing we care. It has increased customer loyalty. We also began “rolling back the curtain” and sharing our best practices for building remote culture and policies. It’s been a positive change for Instant Teams. We will continue to share our innovations openly.”
Alok Alström, CEO of AppJobs (Sweden): “Conversations with clients are warmer and more connected, focused on helping as businesses and people. Before Covid 19, there was little remote work. Now, most clients are equipped for full-digital communication that helps us with geographically distant clients. Finally, our knowledge sharing - articles, blogposts, webinars, and online meetups - has provided relevant leads and strengthened customer relationships.”
Viva la revolution!