As if this time wasn’t disorientating enough, our inbox’s are now full of emails from businesses trying to pre-empt any concerns that consumers might have, and to be honest, it is a little overwhelming.

If you’re a business owner, no matter your industry or service offering, during this chaotic period of uncertainty the way that your business operates on a day to day basis will no doubt be experiencing a transitional phase. And, as a consequence, your customers, staff, partners and suppliers, need to be kept in the loop. But just how do you do that without a) immediately ending up in the trash folder b) causing more hysteria with a badly worded intro or c) being lambasted as being irresponsible for simply saying nothing at all.

This situation is unprecedented and can be difficult to communicate to anyone, let alone your customers. One quick scan of your inbox, social media feed or even your television screens will show you how very easy it is to miscommunicate information by saying the wrong thing or using the wrong words in a time of heightened tension. It is this miscommunication that can often cause confusion and panic. Something we could all do with a little bit less of at the moment, wouldn’t you agree?

So yes, updating your staff, stakeholders and customers is a tricky terrain in these uncertain times, BUT it is a necessary component in ensuring the continuity of your service, and ultimately the successful survival of your everyday operations.

At Pistachio we’re currently helping our clients to alert and inform people quickly and coherently about key infrastructure changes, whether this be via internal communications, external posts or official press statements, and in doing so we’re helping them to feel more secure in how they’re going to weather this Covid-19 storm.

Here are some key points to think about when communicating with your stakeholders re Covid-19…

– Do provide specific updates on how your service offering will be impacted

You will need to reach out to customers to reassure them of the measures you are taking to ensure your continuity of service and how you are safeguarding the welfare of your staff and / or supply chain. Either this, or you will need to provide clarity on how your normal service will be impacted. Try to be specific in any measures that you are taking or any delays that will incur.

– Do provide information about alternative offerings

People will want to go out as little as possible, so where appropriate, be sure to include information that gives them an alternative option to receiving your service. Whether this is an online or delivery option or simply a way to contact you for more support and guidance. And, if you aren’t already providing an online service for your business? Maybe now is a good time to start!

– Do use the right language and tone

As much as it pains me to say it, now is not the time for jokes or humour in your communications, no matter how well it might suit your brand. Please don’t do it.

This doesn’t mean that comms should be dreary or ominous, but respect the severity of the situation and the anxieties and stresses that your customer base and staff are now facing. It is good to strike a positive and reassuring tone, but please bear in mind that people are worrying about their financial and living situations, as well as the welfare of their loved ones.

– Do direct people to your website

This information shouldn’t just be available on your emails and social media posts, you should also have a dedicated page on your website that is easy and accessible for users to find.

Depending on the impact that the pandemic will have on your service offering, you may also need to create a dedicated FAQ page to deal with increased queries.

– Don’t use this as a re-engagement opportunity

There has already been a disgruntled outcry from people complaining that companies have contacted them who they haven’t used or engaged with in years. Do not use this crisis as a re-engagement activity. It is simply not appropriate or responsible to try and entice customers back to your brand during a time when users are feeling hyper sensitive, it will not endear you to them.

Along these lines, please also do not send out unnecessary emails and communications during this time. If you don’t have any update to provide or useful information to communicate, it is best to stay out of people’s inboxes for the time being.

– Don’t make light of the situation (or encourage people to ignore health advice)

Many businesses have already got this very wrong. Jarring comms that have encouraged customers to go against official advice and still use their services because they have ‘plenty of hand sanitiser’ so it’s ‘business as usual’ are strongly advised against.

I understand that the need to ensure the survival of your business is of the utmost importance, but communications that appear to be more concerned with generating business over the real concerns and worries of your customer’s is a no-go.

Instead, find a creative way to connect with customers and provide them with a valuable service and useful information. This way you are more likely to engage them during the current climate, and retain their loyalty in the process.

If you need help communicating the facts quickly, without spreading fear, confusion or misinformation, then please do get in touch we’d love to chat to you about how we are able to help.

In the meantime, we’ll continue to provide you with some top-tips for how to stay productive whilst working from home and how best to communicate and interact digitally with your colleagues and customers – stay tuned!