There are small problems in business. And there are huge problems in business. And then there’s the Coronavirus.
Every single one of us is uncertain about the future. Most are worried about their health, some are worried about their jobs. All of us are stuck in our homes with our favorite squad of characters.
But times of uncertainty don’t mean that things have to be chaotic. Rather, we need to focus on what we can control. As business owners, it is our duty to help our employees understand that sudden change isn’t going to last forever and help your clients see you in the best light.
Having a plan
Here we are in the middle of a pandemic disrupting our way of life and economy – a situation few ever imagined possible. Still, it’s important to have a plan that doesn’t include “putting your head between your legs and crying.” Your business needs a plan, and more importantly, your employees need to see that you have a plan.
Communication is always key during stressful times. Your employees will greatly appreciate your efforts and it will drive down the risk of turnover.
- Regular, short meetings to discuss the status of the plan
- Create and define goals for everyone involved
- Address expectations of your team members
- Use software to track progress (projects, tasks, hours spent working, etc)
- Explain how you will achieve your goal
Consider software tools serve to disseminate information faster, too. Having a system in place will encourage employees to update their status more consistently, for example. The faster you know when someone is sick, the faster you can shift job responsibilities to accommodate.. You also want a way to find out when they are healthy enough to return to work. For the employee, this gives them one less thing to stress out about while they focus on getting better.
So, if you’ve got a plan and need to quickly put a system in place, take a look at the COVID-19 Employee Safety and Business Continuity Tracker. If your business uses Pega, let us know and we can help you implement this effective tool. Regardless of what tool you use, even if it’s as simple as a Google Form for check-ins, it’s important to create something.
Consider how you are communicating with clients and customers
Communicating with clients or consumers transparently, frequently and consistently is just as important as the content itself. If your email inboxes are anything like ours, it’s probably a long list of subject lines that say, “This is our response to COVID-19” and “We’re here for you.”
And if you did anything like we did, you felt inspired the first hour you saw them, annoyed at the second, and then just insta-deleting them since then.
If you find yourself saying the same thing that everyone else is saying, now is a great right time to evaluate your communication strategy. Because we’re in the middle of a crisis, we recommend:
- Keeping your messages short and concise. Do not ramble from topic to topic. Do not start with a long preamble about “We live in uncertain times.”
- Consider the medium. Social media should be eye-catching and authentic, emails should get to the point, and blog posts should contain useful information. (We’re hoping we’re following our own advice on this one!)
- Be honest and transparent. Be direct, open up about problems as much as you can, and make sure everyone is on the same page. Maybe you will be delayed in delivering a product, or maybe your client can’t pay for a service. By talking and listening, you might be able to figure out some new arrangements.
- Use your communication tools. Particularly when your employees might be unavailable due to health or other personal crises, automate your communications tools as much as possible. You should also be tracking your messages, see how they are received, open rates, etc. Monitoring your communications can alert you to upcoming problems
- Become active on social media. If it makes sense for your business, social media is a great way to listen to and connect with consumers. You can use a variety of these tools to find what people are talking about and help you identify consumers’ concerns. Platforms like Hootsuite, Sprout Social and more allow you to easily set up social media listening and schedule out content.
We simply cannot stress the positive impact that well-integrated communication tools can have on any business. And, there are so many to choose from. Any of the major email tools are great, like MailChimp, ConstantContact, and Pega marketing.
Offering real business value
Now that we’ve got our communication tactics covered, we need to make sure the content we are communicating is equally effective. If you are creating a product, you may find that demand or production output has fallen dramatically. However, if you are a service provider, you should also make special considerations to address the impact of the coronavirus.
Whatever you do, offer real business value:
- Look for opportunities for specials and easy wins. If you have a service that you can create and offer frugally and effectively, create a special offer. Many businesses are struggling right now, but by creating an enticing enough offer, you can maybe create some new business.
- Understand your own business limitations right now. You might see an opportunity to create a special offer but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea if you can’t deliver. Examine your capacity and ability to deliver on your goods and services
- Identify and address coronavirus-caused stress points. For instance, right now people do not want to be in close proximity to others. If you sell goods, consider offering free delivery or no-contact pick-up, for example.
- Don’t forget to leverage automation tools so you and your employees can continue focusing on highest priority projects. So many powerful channels to get your message to the right audiences.
We are all in this shared global experience together. Keep interacting with and checking on customers. Infuse life into your brand. Most importantly, spread positivity.