Everything in business is extra complicated right now. Almost every business is either incredibly busy or fearing for their livelihood. It can be a tense time, and it can be a challenge to figure out how to communicate with your clients and customers right now. But there are some key things to keep in mind when you are deciding what and how much to share when you are talking to customers during isolation.
Lean on your values
Whatever you have been telling people you stand for, now is the time to practice what you preach. Just because we are in the middle of a crisis, that doesn’t mean you can’t still function as a business, but this isn’t the time to market and promote your business in the same way you always have. Find out what your customers need right now, figure out how you want to show up during the chaos, and deliver the best you can.
Adjust your tone
This is a time to be more human than ever. Truly, the line between professional and personal is crumbling, and the expectations that you be detached or “business-like” are disappearing. This is the time to speak with calm compassion. If you are usually casual in your language, you want to acknowledge the seriousness of what we are going through; if you are usually stiff and formal, this is the time to embrace your humanity. This doesn’t mean you have to post pictures of you skateboarding or drinking tequila – it just means that this is the time to remember that we are all in this together.
Be as transparent as possible
Obviously, if you are in full panic mode, you don’t need to
livestream that to your customers or staff. But if you are an essential service
that remains open right now, you need to very clearly and transparently convey
to customers all the efforts you are making to keep them safe. If you are in
trouble, now is the time to tell people and allow them to rally around you. If
you are helping, share so other people have ideas about how they can lend a
hand. Now isn’t the time to hide between a corporate wall – let everyone
involved in your company know, to the best of your ability, what is happening
and how you are adapting to meet their needs.
Keep everyone updated regularly
If you are still open, do not make people hunt for your modified hours. If you have delivery, make sure it’s easy to access. Your contact information, your sanitary practices, your new policies – make sure these are clearly laid out on your website and social media. If you offer services or products that are particularly needed by vulnerable populations, or are in high demand, make sure you keep people updated on how you are trying to accommodate everyone fairly and efficiently.
Stay active on social media
Obviously, many businesses need to cut costs where possible. But as much as you can, make sure you are staying active on social media and engaging with your customers or clients. Make sure people get the information they need, that you convey any delays they may experience while you deal with the crisis, and that you only circulate helpful and accurate information. Be extra critical of what you share, and make sure it will positively benefit the people you are trying to serve.
This isn’t the time to disappear. A crisis like this one is a challenge unlike anything most of us have ever faced, and it’s important to come together as a community. Adjust where possible, communicate clearly, and keep trying to help. Keep talking to customers during isolation. And don’t be afraid to ask for help, either – you too are part of a community.