With the 2020 COVID-19 outbreak now well and truly a global issue, it’s vital that companies take control of the situation and speak to their customers. Many businesses will sadly need to shut down and either take a prolonged break or never return. With self-isolation becoming a necessity across the board, it’s vital that you start giving people an opportunity to understand what comes next for your business.
It’s a tough thing to get right, but you can normally make it easier with a few choice decisions. Here are some good ideas that might help you get the message across.
Be as clear as possible
The main thing that you might find makes a big difference is being upfront and honest with your customers. Being clear with them that this is a serious, rapidly developing situation is very important. Many people are still being too lenient with regards to vigilance against COVID-19. It is your duty to avoid making those mistakes, and instead of spending time working with the customers to let them understand how serious this is.
COVID-19 is not going to go anywhere if people don’t take action and really push for a prolonged change. That’s a big reason why COVID-19 is going to become something you need to pay attention to – and why you should be making customers aware of how serious it is.
Make it clear that you wouldn’t be shutting down were this not a serious matter for public health.
Focus on safety
At the moment, while your business needs to be bringing in money, you don’t want to focus on that too much. Instead, any COVID-19 announcement made should come on the back of making safety the #1 priority. Always focus that security and safety for all is your most important and most precious part of the decision being made.
The more that people understand you are closing for their benefit, the sooner the message shall sink in with the majority. You should always look to make it clear that this is a decision driven by a desire to simply keep people safe from the spread of the virus.
Apologize for the inconvenience but make it clear that this is to benefit the good people of the public as opposed to anything else. Focus on safety, and people will be much more understanding of your decision to shut-up shop.
For some reason, some companies are using this time to try and promote their own virtues. Instead of talking about how ‘you are doing everything to solve COVID-19’, make it clear that you are just the same as anyone else. Unless your company works in the essential industries combatting the condition, nobody is expecting you to try and fix the outbreak yourself.
If you run a simple online store, then nobody is going to expect you to be leading the charge against COVID-19 on your own. This is what some more ill-advised claims have been, though. Try and avoid telling people that you are going to solve X or Y for them; make it clear that you are simply doing what is in your legal power to keep people as safe as you realistically can. Don’t try and exaggerate or over-promote your ability to fix things, though.
Address them from above
A good way to make your message really resonates is to ensure that it is directly from the company owner. In times of crisis, leadership is essential. You can show the right level of leadership by addressing everyone from the right position of strength.
Addressing people from above is very important as it can show that the whole company is working together. When it comes from a generic term like ‘the team at COMPANY’, it is nowhere near as effective. You are the company owner, so it falls on you to show empathy and to let people know that you care about them.
Make sure you address them from a position of strength and authority. It shows a greater company understanding of the severity of the situation. Many companies are making the mistake of making this a human resources issue; it’s really not!
If you are staying open, explain why
Many people are expecting every non-essential business to close down during the COVID-9 outbreak. And while that might make sense, some companies are deciding to stay open during the process. If you do choose to do that, you are going to have to explain quite thoroughly as to why you have decided to make such a choice.
This can be hard to put across, but we do recommend that you do this as much as you can. If you are staying open, address customer concerns by breaking down what you are doing to keep the place neat and tidy. Show that you are following regulations and that you are simply not taking a risk for profit.
The more information that you can provide to your customers, though, the more likely they are going to understand your decision and the decisions made to keep people safe.
Try and set a deadline
While nobody really knows when this is going to end, it tends to be good practice to try and offer some kind deadline. While this might not be a deadline you can achieve, it’s better to make people aware that you will return in the future. Many companies are closing without making any promises about coming back, so make people aware that your intention is very much to return in the future.
This is something you should definitely do, as setting a clear deadline will ensure that you can keep people in the loop that deadline approaches. You might even wish to leave a small conclusion listing important charities and health bodies that could be contacted by the customer should they need more information/support.
Basically, this is an unprecedented situation. Nobody has really lived through anything like this for close to a century, if not longer. Being able to provide authority and calm in such worrying times can go a long way to ensuring that your business can keep progressing and trading for the years to come.
With some delicate wording and some empathy, though, you can keep customers updated on your official COVID-19 policy by following along with the above information. Here are some good newsletter examples that might help you.