We have reached uncharted territory with the COVID-19 pandemic.
With numerous businesses being forced to shutter their physical operations, many are trying remote work for the first time. Understandably, this can be a difficult adjustment for business owners and employees alike. The good news is the technology we have available to us today allows remote work transitions to be smoother than in the past.
Here are a few tips to help you maintain strong communications practices with your clients and employees during the COVID-19 quarantines.
1. Prioritize social media
If you’re not already engaged in social media on behalf of your brand, it is critical you begin now. This is the best way for your brand to make its voice and to maintain strong, positive connections with your clients. Not only does it give your clients a convenient way to contact you and read the messages your brand sends out, but it also gives you an easy means of contacting your clients directly and personally to make sure they’re doing okay during these unprecedented times, and to reassure them you’re able to continue supporting them even though their business model may be temporarily changed.
Now is not the time to put your head in the sand and continue avoiding this method of communication that has become so important to so many areas of business. People want to see updates on their social media from their favorite businesses. This is a time at which people crave normalcy, and being able to support those businesses can provide comfort in times of uncertainty.
2. Email and eblasts
While social media works well for more personal interactions and developing a brand personality and identity, email and eblasts are ideal for official communications.
Those client email lists you’ve been developing? Now’s a good opportunity to use them, and let them know how your business is responding to everything that’s happening with the virus. Talk about how you’re adapting the way you provide your services, including remote work or, for restaurants, a shift to delivery or takeout-only models.
You can also give loyal customers and clients information about how they can support your business during these tough times. Don’t be predatory about it—the last thing you want is to appear as though you’re trying to take advantage of a difficult situation. But you can let customers know what they can do to help you get through this period of uncertainty and instability.
3. Update your directories
If you’re a local business serving a local community, you must update your Google business profile so customers searching for you will have updated information about your operations. Google is creating a temporary closure status, so you’ll be able to update your hours or change your status to temporarily closed. Make sure you update this information on all major directories you rely on, like Google, Yelp and Yahoo, so people still know whether you’re open, how your services have been adjusted, and how they can contact you.
4. Get personal
If there was ever a time to allow your business to get personal, it’s now. You almost certainly have clients and customers who are hurting, who are anxious or who may be sick themselves. Take the time to ask them how they’re doing and reassure them you’re there for them when they need you. This is especially important for service-based businesses that are likely to have more personal relationships with their clients, such as lawyers or accountants, but it’s important for all businesses to be genuinely caring and understanding.
5. Learn how to manage a remote workforce
This final tip is geared toward communicating with your employees rather than your clients. With many people shifting to remote work during the indefinite quarantine period, it has become important for managers to learn how to manage a remote workforce.
It is crucial to maintain regular communication with your employees to keep a healthy, positive business culture. This means reaching out personally via phone or chat apps, having micro meetings, and regularly “taking the temperature” of the company culture by asking people how they are doing and if they have any current fears or concerns.
We have the technology to allow for both productivity and positive company culture during extended periods of remote work. You can use conference calls for meetings, or video chats for face-to-face communication. Google is offering Hangouts Premium for free to help businesses stay operational while employees are working remotely.
Many managers will find themselves pleasantly surprised at just how well employees can thrive while working remotely, so long as managers set them up for success and remove any potential barriers to success. In fact, one result of all of this may be that a lot more managers will start allowing for remote work.
It’s impossible to predict everything that will transpire over the next couple of months, but businesses can help relieve anxiety experienced by their customers, clients and employees by prioritizing strong, effective and personal communication.
We at Firefly Marketing are here to guide you through whatever comes your way during this period of uncertainty. Nothing changes for us—we’re still focused on helping you reach your number one goal of communicating with your customers and clients effectively and efficiently. Feel free to contact us at 337-269-0299 or send us questions online if you need any help staying in touch with your customers.
Stay safe and stay healthy.