It’s been 6 weeks since COVID-19 started to change the business landscape. Most organisations successfully communicated the impact of those changes to their customers, and the lucky ones are getting on with the “new” business-as-usual.
But the dialogue shouldn’t stop there.
As humans we communicate to inform, educate, reassure and maintain relationships. In business we do all of the same with one eye on the present and the other on building for the future.
Amidst the challenges there are opportunities that can be seized without capitalising on misfortune. Your audience is hanging around online, sifting through a deluge of information to find something that’s relevant to them. Keeping in touch with, and speaking to your audience in a way that resonates will ensure they remain engaged with your brand and services.
Here’s a few messages you might like to consider sharing to your customers and stakeholders via your channels:
1. Provide an update on your adaptations.
We’ve heard all about “contactless click & collect” and “working from home but still here” positioning, but how did those adaptations work out for your organisation? Was it smooth sailing or did you need to make some modifications as you went along? If it’s the latter, chances are some of your customers were impacted. Let them know that you understand explain the situation and outline how you can help them.
2. Tell people how you’re keeping your staff and customers safe.
We’ve all had to put in place new ways of doing our jobs. The efforts of retailers are obvious, but what about your business? Communicating the policies you’ve implemented portrays your business as the professional organisation that it is. It’s also a subtle way of reminding your customers to continue playing by the rules to ensure the safety of your staff.
3. Communicate new services that make the lives of your customers and stakeholders easier during this period, and beyond.
We’re not talking home-delivered meals, selling hand sanitiser or creating online courses, although these were very immediate, reactive needs that were successfully addressed with some impressive results.
We’re talking about the “what next?” What challenges will your customers be facing when restrictions begin easing? Very few businesses have been unaffected by the declining economy. Have you developed alternative offerings that may appeal to a leaner business environment? Can you help organisations that are keen to continue with the remote working model?
Customer needs for B2B and B2C companies will change just as swiftly when restrictions begin easing as they did back at the beginning. Start communicating now to ensure you’re on the front foot.
4. Explain the relevance of Government updates.
The nature of current challenges has often meant the details behind Government updates are slow to come and difficult to understand. The declaration of agriculture as an essential service was a perfect example, with many industries that directly and indirectly support agricultural production left a little confused as to where they stood.
Be on the front foot if announcements are relevant to you. Do the legwork to determine whether your organisation is impacted and communicate the implications (or lack of) to your customers, staff and stakeholders.
5. Shine a light on your virtues as an industry or organisation.
When life as we know it is stripped back to the bare essentials, it’s a great time to communicate to your audience who you are, how you do business and what you can offer society. Food security, healthcare and mental wellbeing are all front of mind in our communities at the moment. Any opportunity to reassure your stakeholders by highlighting your virtues benefits both those speaking and those listening.
So… what do you have to say? If you’re unsure of the best way to keep talking to your customers and stakeholders, or need help identifying what you should be saying and how, (traditional media, digital, social or a combination) we can help and would love to hear from you.
By Alison Treloar