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How NOT to communicate with customers during a crisis

The pandemic has been a catalyst for change in many industries. Rather than just continuing as usual, brands need to rethink the way they communicate with customers.

This doesn’t just involve getting more comfortable with using digital channels during times of social distancing. It also requires a shift in mind-set. Many of your customers’ priorities may have changed. How can you adjust your communication strategy accordingly?

While there’s no one-size-fits-all approach, here are some communication approaches to avoid.

Don’t be impersonal

As companies adapt to contact-free customer service, digital communication channels such as social media, email, blogs, webinars and so forth can play a valuable role in keeping customers informed and connected with your brand. However, don’t let your digital messaging become too generic and soulless. Just because you’re physically distant from many of your customers right now, doesn’t mean you should be emotionally detached.

As everyone searches for meaning and support in a strange new world, now is the ideal time to turn your digital channels into platforms for positive interaction and conversation. How can you be more engaging and encourage your audience to get involved in the dialogue?

Don’t be alarmist

While it’s important not to ignore the crisis that we are all dealing with, try to avoid communications that cause unnecessary anxiety about the pandemic. This is not the time to incite panic, blame others or make anyone feel more apprehensive than they already do.

It is better to offer solutions and support, even if you are just letting your customers know that you are moving certain services online or running a special offer to help those financially impacted by the crisis.

Don’t be insincere

Even before the virus outbreak, customers have been gravitating towards brands that are real, as well as those that align with their personal values.

Research conducted by UCT Marketing Institute revealed that South African consumers who earn R40 000 to R75 000 per month per household are more interested in inspirational brands than aspirational brands – and they value authenticity above many other brand traits.

In the current scenario, brands that want to survive and thrive need to be genuine, transparent and inspiring. It’s also essential to be fair towards employees, suppliers, customers and the community.

South African consumers who earn R40 000 to R75 000 per month per household are more interested in inspirational brands than aspirational brands

Don’t just sell, sell, sell

Even if your products or services are in high demand during the crisis, it’s critical not to focus on profit over customer experience right now. If you’re only communicating hardcore sales messages to people, you are positioning your company as one that is inward-looking rather than customer centric.

During good times and bad, it’s important to let your customers know that they come first. So, when you communicate with people, reward them for their time and attention. Create messaging that adds value – whether this comes in the form of a special offer, a complimentary service, helpful information or content that entertains.

Don’t forget to listen

You may have had an excellent understanding of your customers before the pandemic. But now, their needs, challenges, concerns and expectations are likely to have changed.

Take time to speak to your customers and really listen to what they have to say. Ask how their day-to-day lives are different, how their financial circumstances have been impacted, and how they see the future. Gathering these insights will allow you to adjust your offering and approach to suit your customers better.

Need help re-aligning your digital communication strategy?

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