Whether it’s a global issue like COVID-19 or a local emergency, businesses must have a crisis communication plan in place for their customers. This goes beyond minor adjustments to marketing messages. The plan must extend to customer service teams, your website, social channels, customer-facing staff, and more.
While we often can’t control the societal crisis at hand, we can control our response to it.
Here are tips to help you formulate a plan that communicates the impact of a situation and next-steps to your students.
- Show that you care. People seek connection during times of uncertainty. Consider a message to students to show you’re aware of the issue and offer helpful resources. Social media, email, or your online community are particularly accessible mediums for a brief and immediate message.
- Be proactive in your communications. Your students count on you even more than usual during a crisis. Proactively announce changes or impacts to your business. Do not make customers hunt for the information they need – instead, bring it to them.
Create communication that is appropriate within a variety of channels, including email, SMS, push notifications, social, IVR systems, chatbot introductions, homepage modals, and headers, and dedicated web landing pages (we can help you). Establish a parallel approach designed to inform students and employees in equal measure as appropriate.
- Inspire your audience. In times of need, those who are not affected are often in a position to assist others. You can be a catalyst by allowing corporate citizenship to shine. Do all you can to help. Share a donor portal; communicate your philanthropic position; assist with collection coordination; donate products, services, money, or time; and communicate how your brand’s community can get involved.
- Audit your content queue. Review your entire messaging stream, including social media, promotional and transactional emails, push notifications, and SMS, to identify communications that need to pause or shift as a result of the situation. Otherwise, there is a risk of damaging your brand if a message comes off as insensitive, incorrect or seeking to capitalize on a tragedy.
These communications must be an institute-wide effort. Develop a cross-functional “Go Team” with experts from public relations, social, email, mobile, website, design, data/IT, philanthropy, stores/field, logistics, supply chain, and customer service to coordinate teams and efforts.