Last week the UK’s COVID-19 alert level reduced from four to three, retailers in England are re-opening their doors and the Government is expected to reduce social distancing rules from 2m to 1m. But life is nowhere near back to normal, so it’s more important than ever to consider how you can continue to communicate in a world where customer confidence remains low in many sectors and the stresses of the past 12 weeks are high.
Here are 10 tips for effective communication as we start to come out of lockdown.
1. Know your customer:
Really knowing who your customer is, what worries, inspires, challenges, engages and excites them, is key to the success of any business. But now more than ever you really need to know how they are feeling and responding to the current change in circumstances. Life may be tough for many of your customers and it’s important to acknowledge that hardship and change the way you communicate with them. Perhaps you’ve re-imagined your business, launched new products or services, or started to target a new market where you need to get to know a whole new audience. Revisit and review your customer personas and ensure you are communicating with the right people in the right way.
2. Review your messages:
Think about what you want to say to your customers, and more importantly what they want to hear from you. Think benefits not features; solutions not products. How can you help your customers and meet their changing needs?
3. Modify your tone of voice:
Choose your words wisely and be sensitive to the stresses caused by the current health crisis and economic climate. Be reassuring and understanding. Give your customers the confidence that you are a safe pair of hands and they can trust you to do the job they want you to do.
4. Update your website:
Remember to communicate any changes in your business on your website from opening hours, contact details and delivery schedules to new products/services and new guides and resources.
5. Quality not quantity:
Don’t over communicate. With many staff on furlough, those that remain in the business are often busy and time limited. Focus on how you can add value, and then tell people about it.
6. Be practical:
Make it easy for your customers to find the information they need. Review your website’s customer journey and make sure there are no dead ends, broken links or out of date information that will mislead or frustrate your visitors.
7. Go where your customers are:
Review your social media activity and be visible on the channels where your customers are active. Provide consistent and up to date information on all your social media channels and respond to messages, enquiries and content in a timely fashion.
8. Leverage your fans:
Don’t be afraid to ask for help from your biggest supporters. There have been some great examples of small businesses asking their customers to support them by shopping local, providing donations or pledging support in some other way. Take advantage of any spare time that you might have to ask your biggest fans for referrals, as well as testimonials and case studies
for your website and other marketing channels.
9. Build a sense of community:
The best way to build a business is to build a strong brand and that means creating an experience and a sense of community. During lockdown there have been some great examples of companies that could not operate in the traditional way but have created an online community and continued to add value in another way. For example, gyms have created online fitness and wellbeing classes, pubs have run virtual pub quizzes and home deliveries of beer, and restaurants - from global chains to local independents - have shared recipes for their most popular dishes.
10. Innovate for a stronger future:
Businesses should never stand still or stop innovating. You must continue to add value as this will help to motivate your customers and your staff to stay with you on your journey to future success.