Coronavirus has affected lives worldwide. People are scared, worried, and there is no movement at any end. There's already a slowdown in the corporates and businesses. People are rethinking their strategies and work from home is the only way businesses are keeping everything going.
As per the recent news, the pandemic has broken the decades-long economic spree in China for the first time after 1976. The third-largest economy of Eurozone viz. Italy is also bracing itself for a doomed recession.
Apart from the economy, human resources and general public well-being are also at immense risk.
Maintaining an effective, robust, and reliable communication channel with clients and employees has become a sure thing to extricate your business from tough times like this.
Talking about communication brings us to two major questions:
- Is there a crisis communication plan that can help your business to survive the COVID-19 pandemic?
- Do you have a pandemic strategy to maintain your stronghold in the trying times?
Let us explore the answers to both these questions, and learn about the best ways to handle client communication during a pandemic.
Before we begin, it is important to understand that effective communication with customers is the lifeline of every business. And, in times when rumours are spreading as fast (or even faster) as the virus itself, it is crucial to have a pandemic strategy in place.
Apart from curbing the panic, the best crisis communication plan must shoulder the business processes online so as to empower your team to work from home without losing efficiency.
Now, let us move ahead and have a look at the best ways to handle client communication during a pandemic.
Crisis Communication - What are its pillars?
Honesty, transparency, and consistency are the three cornerstones of an impeccable crisis communication plan. No matter how dire the situation is, you must not hide the facts and present the true picture to your clients in a transparent manner.
Trying to hide facts during a crisis only weakens your business strategy and relations. Refrain from playing the blame-game and do what you say.
Be an efficient leader with a voice, not opinions. Be it your customers or your team; your stance must be reliable. The communication should proceed as follows:
- What has happened?
- How has it impacted your business?
- What is being done to resolve the situation?
So, what comprises the best pandemic strategy?
Postponing any new launches, drafting employee travel policies for pandemics, setting funds aside for employees, customer support and services, or all of them?
Honestly, one perfect strategy doesn’t exist!
However, this doesn’t mean that you cannot brace your business against pandemics like Coronavirus, or you cannot devise a crisis communication plan to keep your customers loyal.
We are going to discuss some tips for small businesses that are effective to devise a client and customer communication plan for pandemics. So, read on and make sure that your customers always get the best answers.
Novel Coronavirus Crisis Management & Planning - Client Communication
Here are a few things businesses need to do for novel coronavirus crisis management & planning:
Being available is the best solution
During a crisis, clients are worried and panicky. They need assurance that their project will not suffer, and the best way to do that is to be available for communication at all times. Choose video conferencing and collaboration tools that can work across different platforms and devices. App-based communication software and crisis management knowledge repositories can help you offer concrete answers to many pivotal questions from the client's side.
Some customers might also try to reach you via different platforms. They may use your social media page or also tag you in their posts on Twitter. They can write you an email, or even initiate a chat at 1:00 AM in the morning. That’s because communication sets things straight, and during the chaos, that’s exactly what customers want. So, be open to answering at all channels.
Never let the communication channels falter in the wake of a pandemic. Always be available for communication and tackle the time difference smartly. Delegation of roles and communication duties can come to your rescue. At this juncture, you can deploy a reliable customer support help desk.
Be updated, and that too consistently
Panic can send your clients and customers into a hyperactive mode, where they check every source of information for the latest updates without verifying its credibility.
The best way to communicate with such clients is to update your intelligence on a daily basis and offer the most credible information to your clients. Doing this will not only improve your knowledge repository but also equip you with the latest data to offer credible answers to your customers.
Update your intelligence daily to offer the latest information to your team and clients.
Offer instant gratification to your customers
Offering live chat support is one of the trusted and tested ways for instant gratification. However, offering live chat solutions across selected channels and digital platforms hinders you from setting new benchmarks.
We recommend offering multi-channel and multi-platform support to your customers. Opting for a smart and intuitive customer service ticketing system can make this task easier. Automation not only enhances your customer satisfaction but also empowers your teams to answer the queries of unhappy customers anywhere and anytime.
Opt for smart and novel ways to offer customer support and invest in business-relevant automation technology to boost customer experience.
Prepare an alert well in advance
Be prepared with an alert message that you have to share with your team, clients, stakeholders, and the entire staff in case an outbreak occurs in the vicinity or at your workplace. Make sure you draft a message that sends clear information with respect to the situation and retains a positive tone.
Preparing alerts well in advance will save you from sloppiness and confusion when the need arises.
Don’t forget the employees
Never ever leave your employees out of your pandemic strategy. Always remember, employees are the most crucial aspect of any business. Roll-out instructions for individual safety and release special incentives for the staff.
Sharing recent updates and government guides on symptoms & preventive measures via regular emails is important. Further, you can also offer financial help to the employees affected by the outbreak.
This way, you can build a strong relationship with them, which will benefit your business in the long run for sure.
Clients are important, so are the employees. Keep them informed, and don’t shy away from offering benefits when required.
Prioritize customers rather than profits
JetBlue Airways became the first airline to offer relief to its customers by waiving-off the cancellation and change fees. COVID-19 pandemic is threatening to life and is highly contagious. Millions of traveling plans were affected overnight with the news of the coronavirus outbreak. People canceled their flights and changed their schedules. During such times, the least an airline company can do is provide relief to its customers in different ways.
When you put your customers before your profits, you earn respect and loyalty. Such initiatives boost your reputation and improve customer experience.
Revamp your services and plans
Be mindful of the situation around you, and revamp your plans and services accordingly. Follow the lead of many well-known brands and businesses that joined the force to make online working easier and more affordable.
Extend the free usage periods and support the global workforce to offer delightful customer experiences.
Many brands have opted for new service policies to ensure cleanliness and healthy environments for their customers. From partial bookings to on-site cleansing measures such as sanitizer and cleaning frequencies - there are many ways brands are offering novel customer services. You can also follow their examples and inform the customers regarding the same.
This way, you will not only earn the respect of your clients but also make them feel proud of choosing you as their service provider.
You can either opt for sending email alerts to notify your clients or make calls to convey the change in your services.
Improvise with new plans and service upgrades and communicate the same to all your clients, even if they don’t use those services. This is one of the best pandemic tips that you must consider while devising your crisis communication strategy.
Learn with experience and use that learning to plan a pandemic strategy.
The COVID-19 epidemic is not the first pandemic. Ebola and SARS also left the global economy in a mess. To make your business ready to tackle the current and all such future epidemics, it is crucial to have a fool-proof pandemic strategy.
However, it is easier said than done. No one can predict the incidence and after-effects of such pandemics. So, the best way to prepare for such a crisis is to learn with experience and employ that learning when the need arises. Formulate well-structured knowledge repositories so that information dissemination and client communication can be managed with no hassle.
Creating such repositories will also equip managers and business owners with useful data to derive analytical insights related to economic perspectives of business. This will help you devise cost-efficient, sensitive, and transparent crisis communication plans for your clients and customers.
This brings us to the end of our discussion on ways to handle client communication during a pandemic. We hope the tips are helpful for all our readers and they find useful takeaways to adopt for their businesses.
Always remember, the pandemics cannot be predicted. All you can do to overcome their aftermath is to devise a thoughtful pandemic strategy and employ your resources in the best possible manner.
Stop worrying, be patient, and keep communicating with your clients.
Stay safe, Stay positive!