Finding the Right Words for Genuine Communications in a Crisis

Calamities require the best of us, but it’s not always easy to find the words. Here’s a guide to help.

Life hits us in unexpected ways, and sometimes, all at once. Crises require a heightened sense of maturity while tiptoeing around perceived dangers and the greater uncertainty that lies ahead.

As the leader in your team, you have to find a soothing balance between being optimistic and realistic – then finding the words to candidly yet comfortingly express an action plan. During these times, what you say (and when you say them) matters. Striking the iron while it’s hot isn’t just for the good times – you have to make your presence felt when the going gets tough, so neither employees nor customers feel alienated.

In the midst of chaos, a good crisis communication plan can earn trust and loyalty from your stakeholders in the years to come. We have gathered some suggestions below to help you effectively communicate with employees and customers.

Your Employees: Building Confidence

Unexpected crises shake up routine, and ultimately, morale. The looming threat of closure may undermine job security, so it is critical to touch base with your team as soon as possible to keep them confident and productive.

We suggest to first approach your team with news that directly affects them, like their work structure, schedule, and personal safety amidst the threat. With COVID-19’s widespread impact, employers can do a drastic close-down, sustain a skeletal force, or have everyone on work-from-home. Whichever one you implemented, set protocols to give structure, foresee other potential surprises, and set expectations.

Likewise, your employees would appreciate knowing how you will protect them in the days to come — from onsite first aid, a sanitized workspace, interest-free loans, to guarantees of a continued payroll. They’ll understand that your business’ finances and resources are finite, but make your team feel that you are doing your best despite the odds.

There’s also a need to battle misinformation during times of crisis. Validate information only from reputable sources. When applicable, feel free to share useful infographics with the team to arm them with knowledge. This can be a discussion point during centralized meetings where everyone has the opportunity to check in with each other. Show solidarity, and don’t let anyone feel alone or discriminated against. During difficult times, a mentally healthy community can tackle problems and heavy emotions more fruitfully.

Prepare an action plan and assign an emergency team with defined roles for each member. A crisis hotline with a point person will keep your comms organized as well. Put up safeguards wherever you can — a more thorough screening for suppliers, a communication network for PR crises, additional data firewalls, safety officers onsite (you name it for your industry) — and minimize risks. Make sure you and your emergency team send updates as soon as possible and through your scheduled work huddles. Remember that COVID-19 is unlikely to be the last treacherous waters your business will be in, so this action plan will help you in similar future situations. Proactiveness is still better than chasing cures.

Your Customers: Building Trust

On the other end of the spectrum, your customers must also feel your genuine concern and intent to assist. Communicating through the COVID-19 crisis means that you should be part of the solution, not the problem. Amidst the emotional turmoil of sick loved ones, income loss, panic buying, and fear of civil unrest, the last thing you want is to be seen as someone taking advantage of the chaos.

Let your customers reach you easily and make sure your accounts on social media, websites, and other channels are active. Set up a team to handle client communications. Answer queries and send relevant info immediately.

Another tip is to set up an FAQ section on your website, social media accounts, and messaging groups related to the crisis and your business operations at this time. Let them know your operating hours, contact numbers for customer communication, online store opening/expansion, waived fees, and other details related to your business.

Use your social media wisely. Share only useful information about the crisis and how your business can deliver needs to your customers’ doorsteps. Likewise, consider that some of your customers are overloaded with information online and will prefer concise yet meaningful text updates. Send the updates less frequently (like once a week), which you can disseminate with the help of automated text blast services like AMBER.

There’s no need to share redundant info about COVID-19, but if you have important tips in your field, share it. For example, only furniture makers may know how to disinfect their chairs best, so customers don’t have to worry about damages. If you’re in the service industry, don’t leave them hanging and share timelines for your projects, so they have something to look forward to when the dust settles.

Given that your planned ads and promos may not be appropriate anymore, audit your communications and launch line-up for the following days. Geo-target communities for releasing information specific to branches or those living near your business area. Make your language clear but sensitive. Should you experience difficulties in particular districts, like in logistics, geo-targeted comms will let affected customers know. Most social media platforms should have tools to help you segment and line-up your communication efforts.

Better yet, if your business can help mitigate the crisis, say manufacture PPEs or bring food to frontliners, set a budget or raise funds to do so. Emphasize social initiatives to establish trust. Share what your company is doing for its employees. Talk about these initiatives to spread a little joy. For the witty ones, go ahead and share advice, messages, memes, or contests with a sprinkle of humor to lighten the mood.

Lastly, encourage feedback from your customers, and even your other stakeholders like suppliers, affiliates, landlords, and of course, employees. They may have things they want to request from your business to cure their cravings, or suggestions to make the world a better place. Everyone’s got something to say, and another thing we all want during a crisis is to be heard.

Communicate with your customers and employees effectively during crises. Globe myBusiness is here to share tools to help you get started.

 

HELPFUL PRODUCT INFORMATION

Send important announcements branded with your company name to employees and customers with AMBER. More information here.

Enjoy seamless collaboration and communication with your team even when crises keep you apart with G Suite. Learn more here.

Coordinate with your employees and address customer queries without issues with UNLI Internet 1899. Click here to know more.

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