How a company handles a tough crisis gives its customers a better and honest insight into its nature. It’s when the chips are down and an impending crisis unfurls itself with all its fangs spread out, the latent truth about an organization comes out to the fore.
In moments of insecurity like the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic which has disrupted business cycles across the world, organizations should try to maintain a transparent and accurate communication cycle constantly to keep the goodwill and trust of customers on firmer ground.
Being proactive as much as possible and giving a whiff of what’s happening to the customers can narrow the gap between an organization’s self-image and people’s perceptions. Suppressing facts and behaving suspiciously like ostriches can blow the situation out of proportion and exacerbate a feeling of mistrust among the general populace.
It is important therefore for a business to man up and take a strong leadership stand. And such a thing can only begin with a resolve to stay calm and chart out a bullet-proof contingency plan that can deal with your customers’ wave of requests and questions. After all, it takes a crisis to illuminate a plan. Isn’t it!!
With that said, let’s look at some do’s and don’ts of how businesses can manage a crisis situation.
- Set an open channel of communication: We human beings are all wired to panic in case of a sudden crisis. So, it’s normal for customers who are dependent on the services of a particular business to get alarmed in a calamitic situation. To allay such a situation, maintain a dedicated line of communication via email, social media, help centre and your company website. Explain to them the situation and honestly convey to them that you are doing your best to douse the situation.
- Respond immediately 24/7: How quickly and adequately a business responds to a customer query in a crisis defines the societal responsibilities of a company. Providing such a service bolsters the confidence of the customers and delivers a message that you know how to handle a deadlock.
- Keep a fool-proof plan ready: Having an option ready and kicking will save your business from losing credibility. Your customers will stay calm amidst the crisis when they hear from a confident, knowledgeable employee about how they are dealing with an emergency.
A common headache that ensues when a crisis hits is to think of the barrage of questions that will emanate from the customers’ end. And when such a time comes, it is imperative for businesses to speak in a unified voice that resonates well with their core values and in the same breath gives a message to their customers that they are with them together in tough times.
Here are some leads on how to maintain a calm and effective communication with your customers.
- Stay relevant: Communicate the gravity of the crisis with customers in a detailed fashion. How much they will get affected, what measures have you taken to tackle it, how the situation is at present and how much time will it take to get back to normalcy. Include workarounds for every issue.
- Accuracy is equal to honesty: Staying true and delivering accurate information to customers will ensure that the credibility of the company is not at stake. It will be the true test of character. Businesses should take stock first whether the situation meets their crisis criteria before going public. This will also help stakeholders of the company not to get rattled in a crisis situation.
- Show compassion: An endearing gesture goes a long way in deepening relationship ties with customers. Customers love when they get helpful resources from businesses in times of crisis. They feel that you care.
- Be an inspiration: It is during trying times that human beings yearn for solace and kind words. Be that inspiration. Open your heart out with some positive messages that you will stay together with them. You can start a donation initiative in terms of products, services and money and be a good Samaritan. This CSR activity will repose customers’ faith in you and set you as an example.
No one knows when a crisis will befall and wreak havoc upon businesses. Serving the customers in the best possible manner and stewarding them through such distress through a contingency plan will make all the difference. Above all, staying calm and showing a bit of empathy will strengthen your resolve to get through such a crisis.