However, the development of a crisis communications strategy shouldn't be limited solely to address customers' needs. The Edelman report also found that 63% of employees would like to receive daily updates from their employer.
Internal emails, Slack or your organization's intranet are the best ways for companies to communicate with employees on a broad scale. These channels ensure the messages you craft will reach their intended recipients as they are already part of your day-to-day operations. Regardless of what channel(s) you choose, the most important facet of internal communications during a crisis is to have a consistent and proactive approach.
Post frequent updates
In a report on coronavirus email do's and don'ts, Econsultancy warns brands not to use the outbreak as an excuse to re-engage past or lapsed customers. It does, however, encourage companies to provide specific information about how your business has been impacted and what measures you're taking to minimize the disruption.
With physical distancing guidelines and state requirements for sheltering-in-place constantly evolving, your goal in this regard should be to ensure your customers have the absolute latest and most accurate data. This will entail frequent updates and regular contact with your customers as the situation surrounding coronavirus is fluid, and details, facts and figures can change on a dime.
A good example of this can be found in the travel industry, which has faced major disruption in recent months. To address their customers' concerns, airlines like Delta, WestJet and Air France keep coronavirus-related travel updates front and center on their websites' home pages. They update information about flight modifications, cancellations and refunds nearly hourly in some cases, but certainly on a daily basis.
Understandably, airlines and the travel industry as a whole, are experiencing significant volume in their contact centers, with customers reaching out in droves requesting refunds and postponing or cancelling their travel plans altogether. By providing current and relevant customer service options through next-gen technology like Conversational Bots, airlines can reduce some of the strain on their contact centers employees.
Self-serve options should also be flagged up-front to customers who call in, directing them to frequently asked questions online, enabling them to help themselves with simple requests, thus further diminishing wait times and reducing frustration for both callers and agents.
Adopt an appropriate tone
If there's one other aspect of CX that companies should focus on during this challenging time, it's brand voice. The president of major U.S. PR firm, DKC, recently told Vox that in moments of crisis, he recommends "complete transparency, compassion for your customers" and articulating "tough decisions concisely and accurately".
Edelman's study validates this claim by reporting that consumers want companies to communicate "with emotion, compassion and facts" during the pandemic. What you say now, and how you say it, can have a big influence on how consumers perceive your business, and the loyalty they feel towards your brand.
For instance, a majority of respondents (57%) said now is not the time for humor in brand messaging. Consider adjusting your messaging to maintain the strong emotional connection your most loyal customers have with your brand. When all this is over, you want to make sure they still have a positive opinion of your brand.
If, for example, your supply chain is experiencing difficulty, or you're facing shipping delays, conveying those messages up front can go a long way toward maintaining a positive customer relationship. Make sure customers know what challenges exist and why, whether it's because you're prioritizing essential products or you're dealing with warehouse closures due to reduced staff in your effort to keep employees safe.
Emphasize that you'll be keeping consumers up to date on new developments, and apologize for any inconveniences they're currently experiencing. Assure them that you're committed to doing your part to flatten the curve while maintaining business continuity as much as possible. And above all, avoid alarmist and fatalist language, which could upset consumers and negatively impact your brand. Remain serious, but optimistic.
A crisis like this one is difficult for all involved, and it's up to your organization and brand to set an example for how best to deal with it. Communication has always been a significant piece of the overall customer experience, but when consumers have questions and concerns about your brand's ability to serve them in times of crisis, staying connected with them is especially critical.