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How To Communicate With Customers During a Crisis: Creating A Crisis Communication Plan
In difficult times and times of crisis, many businesses are greatly impacted and many customers have questions and concerns. It is therefore important, as a business, to communicate with your customers and come up with a thought through crisis communication plan.
Communicate with customers through your website
Your website is often the first port of call for your customers; be aware of this and make use of it.
1. Ensure your website is up to date with new and important information
It is especially important to do this in crisis situations such as the COVID-19 outbreak, as many of your customers will check here for updates on whether you are open and operating and any further updates.
2. Create a homepage statement
This can be as an announcement header or the main section. This gives customers visible, clear information on how you are dealing with the situation. However, keep this up to date as developments occur so customers are kept in the loop and a good relationship is maintained.
Be open and transparent with your customers. This is the best way to avoid panic and the spread of fake news.
If you are stuck for ideas on what to write, look at industry leaders, competitors or other businesses that are addressing the situation. View updates from your government and public health organizations to stay informed, in order to provide your customers with more accurate information.
Inform On All Social Media Platforms
Many of your customers will follow your social media accounts and look here for updates, so ensure these are up to date and consistent.
1. Create consistent content
You may normally upload different types of content on each channel, but at times of crisis you may want to consider utilizing the same content on all channels. This ensures consistency in the messaging to those who follow you and can eliminate mixed messages and delays across all your social media profiles
2. Pin important announcements and updates
Pinning posts to the top of your business page on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn makes any developments visible and easily accessible to your customers.
3. Update your Google My Business profile
t’s vital that your Google My Business account is up to date, as many of your customers will simply search for your business in Google. Google My Business allows you to write a short description, create posts that you can utilize for crisis communication and even set your open hours.
Communicate with customers via your 10to8 online booking page
Customize your online booking page in accordance with the situation. You can do this by changing the header, perhaps stating if you are open or closed for business, or working remotely from home. You can also customize the description section to provide information or encourage customers to view your homepage announcement or social media accounts to find out more about how your business is coping with the crisis.
Use 10to8’s messaging features and integrations
10to8 appointment scheduling software offers 2-way communication via SMS and e-mail so that you can easily communicate with your customers. Consider changing your automated message templates to include a short update about the current situation. This ensures your customers are not only reminded of their appointments, but are aware that you are taking actions to manage the crisis situation. Informing them of steps to take if they cannot attend the appointment is also vital as this will result in timely cancellations instead of unexpected no-shows.
1. SMS reminder example:
“Hi (name) , this is a reminder of your appointment with (business name or staff name) on (date and time) . Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, we ask that if you are unwell, to please rebook your appointment once you have regained health or call us on (business phone number) . Thank you”
2. E-mail example:
“Hi, it’s (business name) , with an important update. Due to the current outbreak of COVID-19 we please ask that if you are unwell that you do not book with us until you have regained health. If you already have a standing appointment and are unwell, please rebook or call us on (business phone number) . Thank you”
3. Use Email newsletter integrations with MailChimp and Campaign Monitor
For bulk email campaigns we recommend that you make use of 10to8 email campaign integrations with MailChimp, Campaign Monitor or your preferred emailing tool. This sends the information right to their inbox instead of them having to visit your website or social media accounts. https://apps.10to8.com/
Don’t forget the simple things
Not all of your customers will be online and so it is important that you think about reaching them as well as your more tech-savvy audience.Not all of your customers will be online and so it is important that you think about reaching them as well as your more tech-savvy audience. Click To Tweet
4. Put up a sign on your business premise door/window
This may sound very simple and obvious, but often it’s the easy things that get forgotten. A simple sign explaining if you are closed or open and any other important information or practices you are putting in place will help inform customers further.
5. Record voicemail messages
Create a recorded voicemail message that includes the current situation update so that when customers call they can still gain information on how you as a business are coping, even if you are unable to answer the phone. This message may include further contact details such as the link to your online booking page or your email address. This also shows your customers that you are being proactive as a business and ensures your customers continue to put trust in you.
What to consider when creating a crisis communication plan:
- Ensure consistency in your messaging
- Be open and transparent with customers
- Continue to update and inform on a regular basis
- Utilize the tools and technology at your disposal (SMS, e-mail newsletters, 10to8 features, your website, social media, etc.)
- Most Importantly: Only take information and advice from credible sources. Do not listen to Fake News in times of crisis.
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Megan is a Digital Marketing Intern who loves to travel, with a long bucket list of places to go that she's slowly ticking off. She is currently studying Marketing at University, with a passion for content creation and social media. And on any day of the Winter, she can also be found with a nice mug of hot chocolate.
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