In what we fondly recall as “normal times,” there wasn’t much question about how to communicate with customers. Basic principles included reaching out to customers where they “live” online and avoiding technical or otherwise confusing jargon.
In our present period of crisis, these principles still apply. But other factors should be considered in order to protect the trusted customer relationships you’ve worked so hard to establish and sustain. Here are key points to keep in mind:
Increase frequency of communications.
At this point, customers don’t expect businesses to have all the answers to their questions. However, that shouldn’t stop you from reaching out on a regular (and frequent) basis. Consider adopting a schedule to follow when communicating with your key customer constituencies. Alert customers to any changes planned for when things go back to normal and/or changes in your business structure that might affect them.
Use your customers’ preferred mode of communications (email, social media, etc.). Let them know you’re still in business and making ambitious plans for the near future.
Express commitment and concern.
As part of your communications efforts, inform customers about precautions you have put in place to protect your employees. Let customers know how they can purchase your products, obtain refunds if necessary, and other related matters. At the conclusion of your message, include a notice about your next scheduled communication.
Also, as Business.com advises, it’s OK to tell customers how they can support you and your company at this perilous time. This may include “buying gift cards, rescheduling appointments, writing positive reviews, purchasing products online, commenting on social media posts, or telling friends about your store or service.”
Create a special webpage.
Explore the possibility of creating a webpage directly related to what your business is doing during the Coronavirus outbreak. You can include photos of employees working hard in remote locations, tips about how better to use your products or services, and updates about plans to reopen in the coming weeks or months. Then be sure to publicise the link to this page in other communications to customers.
Know what not to say.
Framing your message in a more informal, reassuring tone is a smart approach. But there are things best left unsaid, such as passing along unfounded rumours about Coronavirus, or being unnecessarily promotional or self-serving.
Just as importantly, says Constant Contact, “try to avoid making jokes or downplaying the severity of the situation.” Unless a company is directly part of the healthcare infrastructure, “refrain from sharing your opinions or beliefs about the outbreak and instead share only information from reliable sources like the CDC.”
Boost your social media activity.
As we have noted previously, social media was already destined to grow even more influential and pervasive in 2020. Now, with platforms like Facebook, Instagram and others serving as ways to keep us connected, social media is more relevant than ever before. It’s extremely useful as a means of staying in touch with your customer base.
At the same time, don’t go overboard. Refrain from sharing every thought or link you come across; there’s no need to flood your followers with irrelevant information.
Focus instead on sharing news about special offers or promotions during the crisis. Offer a glimpse of how your company is coping with the changed business scene. Encourage followers to register for your email list, so they can get the most updated news about your company. And take an active role in responding to comments or inquiries left on your platforms by anxious followers.
CEOs and business owners are hopeful they will emerge from the present-day crisis with a renewed commitment to customers. For now, it’s vital to stay in touch and relay as much information as possible to stay connected with others.
To learn more, register for our complimentary 45-minute BOSS Webinar, “6 Tips for Crisis Communication During the Era of Coronavirus.”