There is no doubt you’ve had to make adjustments to get your small business through the coronavirus pandemic. Depending on where your business is located and what type of business you have, you may have been allowed to remain open, your hours may have been cut, or you may have been forced to close temporarily.
Retail businesses that have been allowed to remain open have had to adjust to lower foot traffic. Restaurants have had to adapt to take-out service only. Some small businesses have decided to get financing to help them get through the challenging economic times.
Whatever changes you are making, or have made, to your business during the COVID-19 crisis, the most important thing you have to do as a business owner is communicating those changes to your customers. Having a good business communication is vital.
The initial trend around the country was for businesses to take a wait-and-see approach regarding what to say about COVID-19. But customers want to hear from businesses about what their response to the virus outbreak is, whether they’ll be open (and when) and what steps they are taking to ensure their safety.
But how should you communicate the message to your customers?
What message(s) should you say in your business communication?
Let’s analyze the different methods of business communication and what message you should be sending during this crisis.
How to Communicate Your Message
In these challenging economic times, money is probably at a premium. In other words, you are most likely looking to save as much cash as you can. Cutting back on areas such as marketing is one of the first things a lot of businesses will do.
Luckily, there are free or inexpensive ways you can reach your customers via digital media.
The most effective way of doing so is to send emails out to your list of customers. Hopefully, you’ve already collected many emails from your past, current, and prospective customers. You may have done this through online orders (if you sell products online), through coupons and specials you give away via email or any other means.
Now is the perfect time to use this email list to communicate your message through your email list.
Another channel you should use for business communication is social media. No matter what social media network(s) you use—Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, etc.—you should utilize them to the best of your ability to reach your customers.
Hopefully, you’ve built up a nice following on these social media channels already. But if you haven’t, don’t worry. Your customers will be searching you out at times like these, and they’ll find your social media pages, even if your follower list doesn’t reach the thousands.
Finally, you should make sure that you post your COVID-19 response plan, either on a mail or on social media—or both preferably.
On social media, a lot of businesses are posting a notice at the top of their homepage directing visitors to click to read a full description of their response. When people click, it brings them to a new page dedicated solely to explaining the business’ COVID-19 response.
This is an excellent idea for you to do, too. Besides, you can always link to this page on your social media channels and in all of your email marketing campaigns—even after you’ve initially posted updates to your customers.
What Message You Should Communicate
When you are ready to communicate your message to your customers, there are a few crucial pieces of information that you should convey:
First and foremost, you want to send positive thoughts to your customers, who in some way are all dealing with the ramifications of the coronavirus pandemic. Your messaging should express heartfelt concern for their health and well-being, and empathize with what everyone is going through.
As a business owner, your customers look to you for help during trying times. In your business communication, you should express what you are doing to lend a helping hand.
Customers are going to want to be reassured, so make sure to outline the specific steps you are taking to ensure their safety, including extra sanitation and having your workers wear gloves and masks.
Also, what new or unique services are you now offering to keep your customers protected? Are you providing a no-contact delivery service? Are you offering drive-through or parking lot pickup? Are you waiving delivery fees or doing anything else that you usually don’t do?
Your customers will want to know these things.
There is a lot of confusion and misinformation disseminating during this crisis. As such, make sure you clearly outline what changes have happened at your business.
Are you open or closed? If you’re open, for what hours? Or are you only available for take-out (if a restaurant)?
Don’t leave your customers to guess how the COVID-19 outbreak has affected your business.
People often look to businesses to be leaders in the community. So, what are you doing to inspire people during these trying times?
Some businesses have decided to donate a portion of their sales to help those who have been affected most during the crisis. Some are connecting directly with other non-profits and sharing online portals through which donations can be made.
Above all things, you should ensure that all of your messages at this time revolve around the current crisis. It would be insensitive to do otherwise.
To this end, you’ll want to review any automated messaging you had set up before the outbreak started. For example, if you planned and set up an email blast to advertise a spring sale or an Easter sale, make sure to cancel that out—or at least edit it to reflect sensitivity.
Not only do you want to avoid sending the wrong message—such as a focus on how great your products are while your customers are struggling to buy groceries—you want to avoid sending inaccurate ones—such as extended hours you were planning to have for spring before your business was forced to close.
During these challenging times, it’s vital as a business owner that you are staying in constant contact with your current, past, and prospective customers.
You shouldn’t look at this as an opportunity to take advantage of the COVID-19 outbreak to make more sales. Instead, you should look at it as a way you can be a responsible corporate citizen and lend a helping hand to others in your community who need it.
However, you decide to express your message, and whatever you decide to say, it’s essential that the messaging remains consistent across all channels. You don’t want to be saying one thing over email and a completely different thing over social media, for example. Business communication is very effective if used correctly
During these trying times, you may also find yourself in need of some financial help. If you do, you can request a quote for a business loan from Camino Financial. One of the ways we live up to our motto of No Business Left Behind is to lend a helping hand to people in our community who need it most.
That’s why we’re communicating to you in ways that we believe can help serve you and the greater good of the community. Take our lead and do the same with your customers during these challenging times.