Staying connected with your clients and employees during this challenging time is absolutely crucial. Communicate with both audiences as frequently as relevant to your business - this will vary depending on the type of business you run. Take the time to plan and make sure your frequency is right - be mindful that over communicating can be as damaging as under communicating, so balance is essential.
Whether you’re communicating with your clients or employees it’s important that you do so with authenticity and transparency. Be clear on the current state of play and how it will impact them.
Here are some key themes to help you structure an effective communications plan for both your employees and clients so that you are covering everything they want to know, when they want to know it.
What clients want to know:
- The impact to your business and how that will affect them
First and foremost, your clients are going to want to know about any impact to your business and how that, in turn, may impact theirs. Be clear about any changes likely to be felt by your business and how this will impact them - as relevant.
Connect with your clients as appropriate - it’s worth spending the time understanding how this crisis is affecting them too. If they are struggling - they may well come to you asking for billing relief or a discount. Perhaps they are flourishing and your organisation could provide some additional support. Educate yourself on their circumstances - this will build credibility but also potentially mitigate risk. If your client-base is small - try and make the time for each client. If it’s large - focus on your key clients and where the most risk lies for your business if you were to lose a proportion of these.
Once you’ve addressed the fundamental first point, here’s some secondary content ideas to help guide your clients through this time. Perhaps you produce a client newsletter, do regular webinars or have a blog? These types of stories are ideal for these formats.
- The impact this crisis will have on the economy
Obviously, this will be hard to predict. However, it’s a good time to reflect back to the GFC to remind your clients that we will recover from this crisis as we did back in 2008. Keep informed on government announcements and policies, and share what’s relevant based on industries you operate in. After all, it’s nice for them to feel they aren’t alone in this and always good to get a different perspective on the situation.
- Measures they can take to weather this economic crisis
Some of your clients will be totally across business continuity, others will be well out of their depth and struggling. Help with some really solid guidance and practical tips that they can implement into their day-to-day operations to ease financial strain and mitigate some risk. As relevant to your client-base, consider topics such as budgeting, sales forecasting, communication, innovation, resourcing, technology and so on. You can even share some examples, if appropriate, to changes you’ve made internally to help shape your recommendations.
- How to adapt to new ways of working
Provide guidance around working efficiently during this uncertain time. Creating a leaner operating model is so important right now. They need to make sure their tech and internal comms processes are up to scratch. If your client’s employees are now working from home, provide tips that will help them manage their team remotely. Here at Beepo, we are experts in remote working so have been providing additional support to clients unfamiliar with the concept.
- Positive news stories
Everyone loves a positive news story - and now more than ever. Share positive news in your business as relevant to your clients. People will appreciate the distraction and it may also serve as a ray of hope in what has become a very challenging and highly stressful time.
What employees want to know:
- How the business is performing during this crisis
Keep your employees informed about the performance of your business in a similar vein to how you would under normal circumstances. If the business is struggling - share this with them in a way that won’t create mass panic - you don’t need to go into huge detail, but you do need to be authentic. There is so much uncertainty in the world already so avoid adding to it by keeping people in the dark. Plus, doing so could actually have a positive impact on performance and motivation - someone in your team could come up with an amazing innovative idea that could just help your business weather this storm.
- How their job may or may not be impacted
If there have been changes to the operation of your business (for example employees being let go or hours being reduced), share this with the rest of your team. Gossip can be truly toxic, be a massive demotivator and create unnecessary uncertainty. If you have to adjust your resourcing to get through this difficult period, make sure you keep the rest of your team updated. Communicate with your employees often and with authenticity, transparency and empathy.
- How they can stay productive in a new work from home environment
For those it’s relevant to, adapting to a new working environment can be difficult and even more so combined with the added stress that COVID-19 is creating. Provide the necessary tools and support to ensure your employees are set up to be as productive as possible. Consider tips on setting up a distraction-free and dedicated space, technology, ergonomics, communication and effectively managing workload. Cascade to your managers to ensure they are driving this daily with all employees.
- What support is available to them
There is plenty of support available during this challenging time. Make sure you’re providing details on what’s available to your employees and how they can access it should they require it. Make sure your HR department is suitably prepared to provide guidance around government benefits for any staff who lose their jobs. Also consider providing details of where they can access financial, health and mental health support if they need it. Your staff will appreciate your organisation’s efforts to make sure they are well looked after.
- Positive news stories
Now more than ever we need to focus on the positives. Share positive news with your team - whether it’s a win for a client or a great internal achievement - share it and acknowledge the value those involved have contributed.
Some content ideas
We’ve been serving up a raft of different content to help support businesses we work with navigate this challenge time. To help inspire your content production check out our most recent blog posts.