How Small Businesses Can Communicate With Clients During a Crisis

Communicating with your clients is an important form of connection during a time when everyone’s being asked to distance themselves.


And no matter if your small business is operating as usual, has reduced hours or has closed doors - if you are communicating with your customers, you are much more likely to retain them.


Now. Before we go any further down this road together, I must say that if there’s one thing I know during this time, it’s that I don’t have all the answers ... but! 


I believe we should act as though this is a part of your customer’s journey and one way to positively impact this journey is by communicating with them. 


So, whadaya say?

Let’s use this time to be strategic and connect with our customers, so that when the storm passes we are in a stronger position - yes?




Here we’ll get into how you can communicate with your customers and what you can be talking about during these uncertain times to establish a strong connection.


The do’s and don’ts of crisis communication:


Since we don’t all have PR teams who’re able to double check for us, here are a couple of things to keep in mind and be aware before you start to draft any communication during a crisis.


Yes, do this: 


  • Be clear, always. But, especially now. We don’t need any more confusion.
  • Be responsive. Gather the information and make an informed response to the crisis.
  • Be consistent. Communicate and show up for your customers as you would normally.
  • Provide solutions. Emotions are running high, so try to focus on providing actionable measures and solutions.
  • Cater to the new needs of your customers. Your clients are the same people they’ve always been, but their reality has probably shifted and they may have new needs.
  • Shift your messaging. Try to adapt your messaging to the situation.
  • Be human. Create connection and understanding; we all know this is a tough time. Your customers will respect and value this.



Mmm. No, don’t do it:



  • Avoid being vague. This won’t help anyone during a time of crisis.
  • Try not to be reactive. Quick decision making can be key, but make sure you have all the information to make a sound and informed response instead of a knee-jerk reaction.
  • Don’t go silent. If you go dark or freeze your customers out, they will be more likely to do the same to you. Remember, this too shall pass, and when it does you want your customers to be there.

  • Do not capitalize on fear. Your customers don’t deserve that and it won’t serve you in the long-run.
  • It's best if you don’t ignore the situation. This can come off as tone-deaf and may be off putting to your customers.



How to maintain communication during a crisis:


Even during a pandemic like Coronavirus, there are many avenues for communication.

In-person communication may not always be available, such as right now, so you can turn to the following platforms:



  1. Your website. Now is the perfect time to update your website, as you may have altered business practices, hours of operation, protocols, even services may have changed.

    *If you have a NiceJob-built website, we can absolutely manage that for you.

  2. You’ve got mail! Now is a great time to send email communication to your clients and/or work on future email campaigns. If you want to really connect with your customers, you may even consider snail mail.

  3. Social media is still going strong. If your customers are on social media, then you  should be too. I would argue, during Coronavirus people are spending even more time on social media than normal.

  4. Pick up the phone. Hearing your voice and a personal point of contact can go a long way in garnering trust and helping retain customers during a crisis. You can do this with a desk phone at head office, your mobile phone if that's the best point of contact, or a reliable business softphone solution to connect with customers effortlessly.

  5. Use UCaaS (Unified Communications as a Service) platforms to combine multiple communication channels into one interface, preventing miscommunications that negatively impact customer experience. That said, during times when finances are tight and you're considering cutting costs, purchasing another tool may not be possible. But if you're interested and able to, it's an option worth considering.



But, what do I even say??
What to communicate to customers during a crisis situation:


Sometimes it can be hard to know where to start. And that is a-ok.


It doesn’t need to be perfect, it just needs to be purposeful.


That purpose can take many shapes, like:



  • Establishing routine:
    For instance, maybe you have reduced hours right now but you can follow up with older clients who will be looking for summertime maintenance or their annual deck cleaning, etc.

    Reaching out in this way can instill a sense of normalcy and routine that people are craving during an outbreak, like Coronavirus.

  • Being a light or source of positivity:
    Check in with your customers, share something uplifting, inspiring or educational. Here, for instance is astronaut Chris Hadfield sharing his expert tips on self-isolation:


  • Provide insight:
    Your area of expertise is where you can shine right now. Share insights and tips with your customers to help them weather this storm too. Here’s an example:


  • Gain insight:  
    If you are reading this during time of crisis, chances are people have more time on their hands.

    Now would be a great time to send out requests for reviews from past clients, conduct a survey and get some feedback, post polls on social media or simply ask questions and learn about your business from your customer’s point of view.

    It's also a good time to finally address any negative or fake Google reviews that may have come up on review sites.

  • Create understanding or a human touch point:
    If you allow yourself to be honest or dare I say vulnerable with your customers, they will likely understand your situation and try to find ways to support you. Here’s an example:


Credit: @patriot_exterior



There are many ways to communicate with your clients during a time of crisis; the important thing is to keep communicating instead of going dark.


You are more likely to retain your customers if you maintain those ties to you and your business.


Remember, your customers are human and they will understand what you’re going through as a business if you let them. And chances are, they will be there to support you how they can, and meet you on the other side of the crisis.


Strength in community during COVID-19


What we’ve seen is the greatest strength in uncertain times comes from the people within our communities.  


If you are looking for more resources during the Coronavirus outbreak, we invite you to join our community of entrepreneurs.


Our goal is to provide helpful resources and during these challenging times, we are also committed to sharing candid and useful conversations, and lifting one another up as we need it.