There are many things that have changed about the way we communicate post COVID-19. With so many offices quickly gone remote and storefronts shuttered, small businesses have had to figure out the best way to communicate if they want to stay afloat.
In the last few months, we’ve seen many businesses struggle with messaging, while others have been clear, decisive, and empathetic, building trust with both new and existing customers. There’s no one right way to run a business, but the truth is that many businesses have not been able to handle the sudden change in consumer behaviour, and will struggle to survive this tempestuous time.
One key understanding that many small businesses lack is that expectations for business communications have changed. This includes what businesses say, and how they say it. Today, we’ll delve into how business communications have changed during the COVID-19 pandemic, and how businesses can improve their communication strategy to maintain a strong connection with employees and customers.
One of the most important qualities that a business can embrace right now is honesty. At the beginning of the pandemic, we saw this play out in a very public way. Some businesses made early public statements and were able to show that they had acted quickly and decisively. They made these announcements transparently to their stakeholders, and it offered much-needed reassurance. Other businesses tried to pretend that everything was fine, ignored the growing pandemic entirely, or even worse- used people’s vulnerability to sell their products.
This will become even more important in the future, as customers and clients look for reassurance that going in for meetings, or shopping in person won’t expose them to unnecessary risk.
Right now, families and friends all over the world are leaning on each other for support. Businesses need to make a choice of where their values lie in the days and weeks ahead. They may choose to close ranks and do what they need to do to make sure their income remains steady. This could include anything from laying off staff to reducing salaries and dropping benefits.
Other companies have taken this opportunity to explore a greater connection with the community. One restaurant in Seattle, Washington had only been open for two months when COVID-19 hit. Instead of shutting their doors and laying off staff, the owner decided to use her space as a community kitchen, giving away free meals to essential workers and people facing food insecurity.
Instead of focusing on their bottom line, this business reached out to the community and built an impressive amount of goodwill. Businesses can learn from this example, and focus on reaching out instead of drawing back.
Many businesses learned the hard way that being tethered to an office may no longer be an option for many workers. Even if businesses are able to open safely, parents will still have to worry about what to do with children that are unable to attend camp, after-school programs, or any other social activity.
Instead of sticking to the traditional office working environment, agile businesses are pivoting to new ways of working. Many have adopted new flexible policies that allow them to remain connected, no matter where their staff are located. One great example of this is using a VoIP network as a business phone service. These services are easily scalable, and since they’re tied to the same geographic location, they allow customers to call into one number and seamlessly transition to any staff member.