18 Tips to Strengthen Your Business During a Crisis

Megan Thorp
April 9, 2020

Proactively communicating changes that affect your business across customer-facing channels is crucial.

During an ongoing crisis, subject to rapid change, marketing sits center stage as the voice of a business. It needs a proactive solution to adjust and adapt. Customers are digital, and digital marketing sets the tone for how they perceive you during difficult times like these. Proactively communicating changes to your customers is crucial in helping people plan and prepare. Winnow Digital Marketing Services has the following recommendations.

1. Ramp-up digital delivery. Craft proactive messages to distribute via email, social media, and the web to answer common questions. Also, draft reactive scripts to help customer service reps handle sensitive one-on-one interactions. Train qualified team members in functions with lower volume to help manage demand from customer service channels.

2. Update your Business Profile on Google and Facebook. Include changes in your hours, including temporary closings. At a time when people are assessing what best fits their needs, providing information, like whether you are offering pre-paid-pick-up, social distancing, or delivery, is a way you can help users decide what is right for them.

Make sure your customers have the latest information about your business.

3. Change your business hours. If your business hours have changed, update the times when you will be open or closed. The hours will show when the customer visits your Business Profile, and they will know exactly when to visit. Learn how to change your hours.

4. Temporary closures. Mark your business “Temporarily closed” on Google and Facebook. Google also relies on authoritative data sources, where available, to mark certain types of places as “Temporarily Closed” on Google Search and Google Maps.

5. Manage your information. Explain whether or not your business operations are affected by COVID-19. Share information about any extra precautions your business is taking, such as moving to takeout or delivery only. You can also share if you are providing any additional services to the community, or whether you are experiencing delays. Learn more about editing your business description.

6. Create a post. Share more detailed and timely updates about what’s going on with your business through Posts. For example, add information about closures or reduced hours, or suggest the purchase of gift cards to support your business. You can continue to use Posts to directly communicate with your customers on a regular basis as your business changes. Learn how to create a post.

7. Watch what you say & how you say it. By taking the right actions, finding the right message, and reaching out is challenging, especially in a fast-changing situation like this. All companies must operate with integrity and trust, especially when they come under pressure. But “How?” and “What’s next?” from a swiftly evolving situation. Those with a product or service well-suited for difficult times must, meanwhile, tread lightly, lest customers think they are exploiting the tragedy.

Use every resource at your disposal.

8. The U.S. Small Business Administration is offering designated states and territories low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital to small businesses suffering substantial economic injury as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

9. Google has many resources available: Help Center, Community Announcements, Google My Business, Edit your business information, Businesses affected by COVID-19: Guidance on updating info, and temporary closures.

10. Download the Google My Business app and turn on messaging as a way to help your customers reach you. If you are not reachable by phone or it is after your business hours, messaging can help customers get the support they need.

Tip: To let your customers know your business status, you can write an automatic welcome message.

11. Act now. Marketers should not wait for problems to develop or the market to point in a clear direction before making plans and taking action. Instead, follow our step action plan to define scenarios, monitor customers, and plan for marketing changes.

12. Engage in scenario planning. Face reality and define the best, worst, and moderate scenarios that could play out. Work with industry peers in other departments like HR and Finance to develop various scenarios.

13. Drill down. Marketers must drill down the specific challenges your customers and the organization could experience in each scenario and identify actions to take.

14. Be aware — Not “tone-deaf.” Listen for changes in customer sentiment and behavior. People now align more closely with family, friends, and local businesses. This current crisis seems to have amplified the distrust customers have of brands, authority, and others. Listen. It is essential to know what customers feel and do — and why.

15. Speak their language. Set voice of the customer (VoC) programs to listen for references to COVID-19 or other shifts. Use social listening to monitor customer discussions about health concerns or information needs relevant to you. Monitor customer care emails, phone calls, and service chats for changes in concerns or sentiment.

16. Balance your response. Support customers and protect customer relationships while staying honest about what can and cannot be delivered at this time. Manage your promises. Set realistic expectations. Evaluate current policies and consider rational changes — for example, allowing cancellations or extending payment terms.

17. Adjust customer support. Create capacity to address a change in customer service volumes. Also, promote apps and other mobile tools and services. Ramp up capacity for online transactions and digital interactions. Innovate ways to deliver your product or aspects of it online. Understand that some people will always need to hear an empathetic human voice and be prepared to offer it.

18. Adapt the marketing plan. The next three to six months will bring many societal changes that trickle down to the marketing plan. Consider going online instead of event-based programs and always provide value!

While businesses continue to navigate the ever-increasing complexities during these trying times, Winnow offers ongoing support for businesses through AI-assisted Digital Marketing. Ask us how our AI-assisted solution to Ad Campaign Management can save your business money while keeping your business top-of-mind with customers. Winnow can help your business today.

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