What’s the toughest part of dealing with a crisis? If you’re an entrepreneur, your answer is going to be maintaining business continuity. Despite the nature and scale of the crisis, you need to ensure that key business operations remain uninterrupted.
Also, you must outline a plan to recover from the repercussions of the crisis. This could include loss of data and paperwork, as well as repairing equipment and office premises. Additionally, you need to ensure that your employees are safe and motivated despite adverse circumstances.
However, even the best emergency response will fail if you don’t communicate with your employees, customers, vendors, and other stakeholders. The importance of seamless business communication can’t be stressed enough.
But communication becomes all the more crucial when you’re dealing with a crisis that could affect manufacturing, shipping, payroll, and other key operations. Whether you’re dealing with natural disasters, such as earthquakes, hurricanes, etc., pandemics, or workplace accidents – it’s crucial to maintain uninterrupted communication.
The Role of Communication During a Crisis
Depending on the nature of the emergency, you’ll need to share regular updates with your employees. This could range from keeping them posted about the latest situation or sharing useful resources to ensure their safety. You even have to share motivational messages to help them power through the crisis.
Also, you should ensure that your employees can communicate among themselves to carry out routine operations. This is particularly essential when your business premises are closed and employees have to work from home. Make sure they’ve got the right communication tools at their disposal to perform their job.
It’s worth noting here that your customers will also likely have a ton of questions regarding your business. If you’re running a retail outlet, they’d want to know when you’re going to resume operations. Even if you own an online business, buyers will still have questions regarding product availability, shipping, and return.
Moreover, you’ll have to provide them with flawless customer support even if your employees aren’t in the office. Otherwise, you risk losing the trust of your existing customers. This, in turn, could affect your revenue in the future. It isn’t surprising that nearly 40% of small businesses don’t recover from the ramifications of a natural disaster.
Likewise, you’ll need to keep your vendors/suppliers posted about payments and upcoming orders. That’s why it is essential to define a concrete emergency communication strategy for your business. Also, you have to identify the right communication channels and tools that can be used.
Here are a few effective ways to maintain seamless communication with your stakeholders during a crisis:
1. Use the Right Business Phone System
The last thing you want during a crisis is for your cellphone to get flooded with numerous phone calls and messages from frantic customers. The best way of avoiding this situation is to use a reliable and sturdy business telephone system that won’t falter during a natural disaster.
From private branch exchange (PBX) to Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) – there are various types of telephone systems for small businesses. If your primary objective is disaster recovery, it’s wiser to select a hosted VoIP phone system.
It’ll ensure that your customers can reach support reps even if they’re working remotely. Make sure you showcase the contact number on your website and social media profiles. Also, mention the time window during which your reps will be available to address customer queries and complaints.
2. Leverage Social Media
Social media platforms aren’t just an avenue for promoting your business. You can also use them as a channel to communicate with key stakeholders when all other communication channels are inaccessible. Start by sharing concise updates of how you’re dealing with the crisis and when you expect to resume normal operations.
This can go a long way to differentiate your business from organizations that are facing the same crisis. Also, you can use these platforms to provide customer support. For instance, let your customers know that they can reach out to you on Facebook or Twitter if they can’t get through the official helpline.
3. Don’t Ignore Your Website
As with your social media profiles, you can also use the company website to share important updates with customers and vendors. Create a simple blog post outlining your recovery strategy and progress. Next, add a notification bar on top of your website to drive website visitors to the blog post.
Make sure you regularly update the content and share it across social media as well. It’ll go a long way to help you maintain transparency, as well as instill trust and confidence in stakeholders.
4. Use an Internal Communication App
Communicating with your customers, suppliers, and lenders isn’t enough. You also have to ensure that your employees can interact with each other and reach out to you for help. Whether your team is working remotely or in the office, they may not have access to usual communication channels during a crisis.
This is where an internal communication app steps into the picture. Of course, the best option is to hire a developer to create a tailored app based on your needs. However, this is going to be expensive. Alternatively, you can use cloud-based solutions, such as Slack, RedBooth, Basecamp, etc., for this purpose.
What steps is your organization taking to create a crisis communication plan? Share your suggestions in the comments section below.