Written by: Kelly Roberts
Membership & Marketing Coordinator,
Businesses right here in our community and around the world are feeling the effects of COVID-19. This pandemic is prompting us to adapt and change the way we learn, do business, receive information and communicate.
On top of everything else businesses are facing, they are also challenged with how to effectively communicate and connect with their clients, customers and supporters when face-to-face-interaction is now done through a computer screen.
Although there isn’t a step-by-step guide for handling communications through COVID-19, I’ve compiled a few key points and best practices to consider:
Listen first, then respond:
What do we do now? What is the appropriate way to engage and communicate at a time like this? How much communication is too much? What should we share? These are all questions a lot of businesses are likely sorting through right now. In times like these, when stress is high and when we don’t know what exactly to say or how to say it – it’s important to communicate anyway. Doing so will show responsiveness and demonstrate strong leadership.
Take the time to listen to your employees, customers and the community. Understanding their concerns and perspectives and making them feel reassured and safe is important.
Stay true to your brand and your mission:
It is always important to stay true to your brand and your mission when communicating and doing business. Especially in times of crisis, remember to let your mission guide how you respond and what you are communicating. Take into consideration the tone of your usual communication, but remember that this situation is serious. You may need to adjust the tone and style of your messaging when communicating depending on the subject.
Be clear & transparent:
Clear communication is key. Now is not the time for mixed messages or vague information. In an already crowded digital world, information is on overload even more so right now. It’s important to capture your audience’s attention, and to get your message across while you have it.
When relying on digital communication, emails are a great tool. When you draft an email, remember to focus on your subject lines. This is what will make the reader decide whether or not they want to open the email to learn more. Even if they don’t open your email, they will see your subject line. Put the important stuff here – but keep it brief!
With hygiene, sterilization and safety being of top concern right now it is also important to be transparent with the measures and practices you are taking to ensure your employees and customers are safe. Answer questions, and consider creating a FAQ document or page on your website with this information.
Focus on your online presence & social media platforms (and update them often):
Face-to-face interaction has gone digital. For how long, we aren’t sure but it’s important to ensure your business has a strong online presence right now. There are so many opportunities social media and an online presence can provide your business. It allows you to share real time information and gives you the opportunity to interact with your customers when you can’t see them in person.
Consider creating interactive social media posts like an online Facebook giveaway, or asking for opinions and feedback through the poll feature on Instagram. These kinds of posts may even result in a few new followers and customers!
In addition to social media, don’t forget about your website. As quickly as information and requirements are changing, remember to keep your website up-to-date. Are you offering gift-cards? Are your hours changed? Are you closed but taking online orders? Keep this information visible and updated on your website. You want to make it easy for users to locate information on how you are operating. *Remember to update your Google Business listing as well. Often-times, users will google your business in order to find your website. Make sure your hours are up-to-date and accurate!
Share good news:
Good news is always good, but during a pandemic it is easy to focus on the negative and forget that there is still good happening around us. Is your business doing something to help your neighbors or your community as a whole? Share this! You can also show support of fellow businesses by sharing their good news, giving shout-outs or partnering with them to give-back. *If you have good news to share you can send it to firstname.lastname@example.org to be considered as a featured #AccessGoodNews post on Facebook!
Reach out and check-in:
Do you have employees, customers or partners that you think would benefit from hearing from you? Reach out. This is a great way to continue building relationships with your customers when face-to-face interaction isn’t available. A simple phone call, email or text can go a long way and not only shows compassion, but it also builds trust and keeps your connection strong.
Communication is something the Alamance Chamber has been focused on since the beginning of COVID-19. We, like so many other businesses, have had to adapt and adjust our communication strategy since we are no longer able to convene in-person. Earlier this week, we hosted a Communication Matters webinar for members featuring Tim Riddle of Discover Blind Spots. During his presentation, Tim shared important information for us to consider as we are all shifting and refocusing the way we communicate. (Missed the webinar? Click here for the recording and insert password 8q+R#O^4).
Remember, one size doesn’t fit all when communicating. You know your customers and your audience best, and you know the information they want and expect to receive from you. Continued communication during this time will allow you to continue building relationships with your customers until you can do so in-person again.