The world is completely different from what it looked like — a few months ago. We are hemmed by the fear of the invisible enemy, the coronavirus. The pandemic has psyched out every area of our life — be it personal or professional. Businesses have been consumed by the fear of losing their customers with the official orders from the Government to shelter in place. The whole situation is a different kind of hardship confounded with hopelessness that the business is facing today.
And when everyone’s life is upended, businesses have the challenge to deal with their consumers. Given the current situation when the only thing that’s on everyone’s mind is, “how to survive this battle against coronavirus.” With human survival on top of everyone’s mind, convincing your consumers, and keeping them in the loop is becoming the toughest task like never before. Maintaining and keeping the relationship with consumers alive is not an easy cake during a crisis we are living in.
Keeping that relationship alive with your consumer is demanding a shift given the situation. There needs to be a balance between trying to generate sales during an extreme situation like this and respecting your consumers’ preferences & prioritize. This concern is even bigger for smaller businesses, they may not have enough resources to maintain cash flow. Even many bigger and established companies in the US are struggling to survive. With all this upheaval taking place — the only way is to hope for a better & brighter future. Regularly interacting with your customers and maintaining that relationship is crucial to retain them.
Businesses are fearful of losing their valued customers. But, thankfully every lock has a key, and there are ways — smaller, vulnerable, and newer businesses can deal with situations like this. There are ways to deal with these circumstances when there is minimalist human interaction taking place with social distancing at the forefront of everything.
Let’s first talk about the five key principles to deal with your consumers during a crisis. These techniques are proven and have been utilized by companies from the last many years in dealing with enhancing relationships with consumers. Here we go:
The HEART framework of sustained crisis communication –
H — Humanize
E — Educate
A — Assure
R — Revolutionize
T — Tackle
These five principles are taken from the Heart framework of sustained crisis communication. It will help deal with a crisis like we are in today, by establishing a genuine mode of communication with your consumers. This strategy helps you establish — how you must communicate with your consumers, and how not to — during a crisis like a coronavirus. The HEART strategy supports your consumers by making them aware of the plans you have in your kitty for dealing with the crisis in the future, and in the present.
Here’s how you must deal with COVID-19 and keep building relationship with your consumers:
You, me, everyone knows that the times have changed completely — this is the time when you have to make sure that you understand the basic human needs, the needs of your consumers particularly. HOPE is what we are looking for — in these turbulent times. Extend your good wishes & concerns for those who are suffering from coronavirus and assure them by telling about the steps that you are taking to help your employees, partners, and customers. The most important channel that can help you with this — are your social media handles. Through Instagram, Facebook & Twitter — you can very much help your customers know what steps your company is taking in the interest of your consumers.
At this time of crisis, you must let them know — how you are preparing for the future, and what steps you are taking to help your employees & your consumers. Like many companies and establishments are finding ways — where employees can be engaged in miscellaneous activities instead of having them fired. Many organizations have floated in virtual lunch and learn programs wherein clients & employees can talk about upcoming projects from the comfort of their homes with the lunch being delivered to their doorstep. At this point in time, your consumers cannot tolerate if you will try to overplay — Just make a GENUINE effort, which is in the benefit of YOU as well as your CONSUMERS.
Educating your consumers on everything about your business operation is paramount. They want to see you as a proactive group of people who could get their problems solved. Let them know about everything that is going to be new — the working hours, closure, services to be available during this time — and everything happening. And, while you’ll update them about these changes — they can be kept into the look. Instead of making an impression by bringing about these changes forcefully as after Government instruction — if you could proactively bring them in action before the Government steps in — your consumers will appreciate you. This will create an impression of being sensible about what’s going on in your consumers’ heads.
As a brand, as an organization, it is your responsibility to give your consumers assurance about continuing to serve them with what you specialize in — even in these taxing times. As a business, you have to make sure that — you are continuing to exist even when the landscape you have been in — has completely transformed into a new one. You have to assure your consumers with your plan, and how you are going to make it happen. Just talking about it won’t get any assurance — assure them with a whole working plan that will support you, working with similar high-quality products and with similar thoughtfulness. Tell them every trivial detail about how you are going to maintain that value proposition, elaborately without missing anything.
Humanizing & revolutionizing! A great thinker once said, “it is the worst times — when you can find something best.” Trying situations like this give us an opportunity to innovate and come up with new ideas. This reality has been exemplified time and again — whenever mankind has faced a situation like never before. While communicating with your customers — you have to assure them how you are implementing this very idea of “innovation in the challenging times.” Let them know what new and improved ideas you have come up with while dealing with this epidemic that has taken a toll on human lives. Tell them how — necessity has become the mother for your organization’s inventions. This may sound like — is it really required — YES it is if you really wish to keep your customers in the loop. In addition, you can also reach out to prospective customers by helping them with new & improved products — that can be worked well given the current situation. At every step, you must act the HERO of HOPE for your consumers.
Keep communicating your consumers with a timeline that talks about your company’s operation. Of course, you must follow the Government’s guidelines, but if that’s really possible go extra miles to work out some solutions. At any cost, you have to give assurance that you are ready to do whatever you can in the interest of the consumers. You must communicate to them your revised business model that would survive the company until the world returns to normal. You can instigate confidence by showcasing how after this storm, you are going to come out stronger with many exciting improvements.
The idea here is to learn to be productively involved when a crisis hits your business. The most relevant approach is to take this as an opportunity and build a long-lasting relationship with your consumers. Being able to gracefully and peacefully innovate new techniques of improving your product and services will build confidence among your valued consumers to nurture a perennial relationship. We at Admedia, the largest Digital marketplace are innovating new and improved techniques that keep us at the top of our consumers’ minds irrespective of the situation. Over the last few months — from virtual meetings for finding affordable & efficient online advertising solutions — we have implemented & innovated, at every STEP possible throughout this crisis.