How To Communicate With Customers During Times Of Crisis

As businesses of all sizes react to mandatory shutdowns and employees working from home, it’s crucial to have a solid crisis communication plan in place. Your customers want to hear from you and know your plan for next steps. Heidi Robbins, a principal marketing consultant with Salesforce Marketing Cloud, says that while it’s important to adjust your marketing messages, social channels and website during times of crisis, you must also formulate a plan to communicate to your clients.

In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we share Robbins’s five tips for reaching out to customers during a crisis.

1. Show that you care. People seek connection during times of uncertainty. Companies in our communities play a role in this, says Robbins. Consider a message to customers to show you’re aware of the issue and offer helpful resources. Social media, email or your online community are particularly accessible mediums for a brief and immediate message.

2. Be proactive in your communications. Your customers count on you even more than usual during a crisis. Robbins recommends proactively announcing changes or impacts to your business. Do not make customers hunt for the information they need. Instead, bring it to them. Proactive communication will free up staff to focus on tasks other than answering the same customer questions over and over again. Be sure to create communication that is appropriate within a variety of channels, including email, SMS, push notifications, social and chatbot introductions. Establish a parallel approach designed to inform customers and employees in equal measure as appropriate.

3. Offer a shoulder to lean on. Show your humanity with an authentic, sensitive response. For example, Walgreens and CVS are waiving prescription medicine delivery fees during the current pandemic. Small businesses are also stepping up. Robbins says she received an email from her local deli offering free delivery for customers over the age of 70 within a five-mile radius of the business.

4. Inspire your audience. In times of need, those who are not affected are often in a position to assist others. Robbins says you can be a catalyst by allowing corporate citizenship to shine. Do all you can to help. Share a donor portal, communicate your philanthropic position, assist with collection coordination, or donate products, services, money or time. Be sure to communicate how your brand’s community can get involved.

5. Audit your content queue. Review your entire messaging stream, including social media, promotional and transactional emails, push notifications and SMS to identify communications that need to pause or shift as a result of the situation, says Robbins. If you don’t, you risk potentially damaging your brand if a message comes off as insensitive, incorrect or seeking to capitalize on a tragedy.

As the world navigates the coronavirus crisis, it’s critical for businesses to step up for their customers. How can you demonstrate that you care about your clients’ well-being? How can you offer a helping hand? In these uncertain times, remember to approach your client communications with empathy.

Compiled by Audrey Sellers

Source: Heidi Robbins is a principal marketing consultant with Salesforce Marketing Cloud.

filed under March 2020
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