Communicating with Your Customers is Key During the COVID-19 Crisis
The COVID-19 pandemic escalated quickly, causing most companies to react to a long to-do list, from analyzing and cutting spending to revamping staffing needs and changing operating procedures. One of the most important initiatives that sometimes comes as an afterthought is the need for a solid communication plan to your customers.
With many of us practicing social distancing by staying inside, canceling plans, and avoiding crowded spaces, businesses are facing many unprecedented challenges and changes, including interruptions in day-to-day operations, changes in demand, supply chain disruption, and more.
During this time, businesses need to actively contact customers to keep them informed and reassured. How much communication is enough and how much is too much? Despite the urgency of the current crisis, here are some best practices to help you with your customer communication strategy.
Start With an Authentic Voice
As you craft your communications, it’s vital that you frame your content to fit the tone of the situation and align with your brand voice. A crisis doesn’t necessarily mean that all communications have to be somber; what it means is that your communications have to be more thoughtful than ever. Part of having an authentic voice is knowing your audience and understanding how it relates to your brand and how you want your brand to be perceived.
Communicate Empathy and Understanding About the Situation Through a Corporate Statement
Compassion and empathy for our customers, community, and employees are important to ArcherPoint. As we collectively navigate the impact of COVID-19 on our businesses, here are actions you might consider for your corporate coronavirus response:
- Develop a corporate statement to help customers understand how changes to your products and services in response to the pandemic might impact them.
- Remember that this is a global health crisis that will affect millions of people. Your statement should acknowledge the seriousness of the situation and reflect your understanding that COVID-19 isn’t simply an inconvenience.
- Deliver a customer-first message. To reiterate your support, align your messaging with your customers’ concerns and include clear steps being taken to address all possible concerns. Microsoft recently shared their commitment to customers. We have also shared our COVID-19 response and service offerings to assist our customers during this time.
- Tailor the tone of your corporate statement to show authenticity, and express compassion and emotional support.
- Consider updating your corporate statement based on questions you receive from your customers. You might also consider publishing or sharing frequently asked questions to address your customers’ main concerns.
Clearly Communicate Changes to Business Hours, Operations, and Service Offerings
While many brick and mortar stores have been forced to close their doors to the public, many are able to remain open but are adjusting their business models, hours, etc. Either way, it is important to clearly communicate with your customers about any changes to your business hours, pick-up and delivery options, and service offerings.
Consider all of the ways you can get this information in front of customers, including your website, email, social media, storefront signage, and phone calls. Timing is everything during a crisis, so be sure to share communication as quickly as possible.
And because it is no longer business as usual, be sure to audit existing marketing messaging and promotions and adjust content calendars to reflect and support the current situation.
Following are ways to communicate with your customers:
Even more so than before, your website is a valuable communication channel for keeping your customers informed. COVID-19-related announcements should be prominent and clear so your customers know what to expect regarding changes to your business’ operations. Important information to highlight includes:
- Temporary closures
- Hours of operation
- Changes to regular services, such as moving to online ordering or delivery only
- Safety precautions being taken by your business
- In stock, low stock or out-of-stock announcements for high-demand products
It’s best if this information is not only on the home or news page, but accessible on every page of the website, either as a banner or link.
Many businesses are using email to reach customers directly. Similar to the information that you post on your website, you should tell customers what’s important to know: store hours, timelines for order fulfillment, etc., as well as the sanitary measures you’re implementing to keep your employees and customers safe.
With over-crowded inboxes, it is important that emails from your business only include genuinely useful information that is concise and easy to scan. Think about your customer first and your business second to determine the type of details to include.
If your business has a Google My Business profile, Google has added several new features to help inform customers about changes during COVID-19.
With social distancing top of mind, staying connected is now more important than ever. Many are relying on social media to stay in touch with friends, to be entertained, and to learn the latest news. That’s why using social media to keep customers informed during the COVID-19 crisis is also a useful channel. Use these tips to make meaningful connections with your customers:
- Communicate openly
- Be authentic—know your brand voice and match your tone to the situation
- Show how you’re helping
- Demonstrate how you’re supporting your employees, customers, and community
- Reinforce your brand values
Turn to ArcherPoint for Help
At Archer Point, we’re committed to supporting you as we navigate these uncertain times together. If you have product, pricing, or technical questions related to COVID-19, please contact us.
To learn more about maintaining business operations during the COVID-19 pandemic, read these blog posts: