How to communicate to your customers about COVID-19

When it comes to the COVID-19 health situation, for many small businesses there is a sense of unrest and there is an element of fear of not knowing what impact this could have on small businesses across many industries. The swift response to the Federal Government’s advice to ban events with over 500 attendees has seen unprecedented closures, sports games played behind closed doors and supplies delayed and stores out of stock.

And whilst we don’t know when business will return to norma, there are plenty of ways to keep customer trust and loyalty during this time. There are also ways to protect you and your business should clients cancel or reschedule due to the current situation.

It is important to let your followers and customer base know how your business will deal with the current situation and what precautionary measures you’re taking.

An important announcement highlighting this and published on your website, as an email and/ or on your social media is a good way to do this.

In this announcement you should highlight the following:

  • That your business continues to stay up to date and monitor the situation and announcements by health professionals and the government.
  • What your business will do during this time. Will it be closed or operating as normal or on reduced hours? Will there be limits to what people can and can’t do? Will you be available online?
  • Highlight the importance of your customer’s safety and what precautionary measures your business will be undertaking during this time. Will staff be wearing masks? Will you be cancelling close interactions for a period? Will you be increasing cleaning schedules? Will there be hand sanitizer available to the public? Will your team be requesting card-only for payments? Share your industry health practices and guidelines to reiterate your standards and protocols.
  • If your business is online what practices will you be ensuring that their products will arrive safely and germ-free? If you handle food, what other measures are you taking to make sure their food isn’t contaminated? If your business is informative, what are you doing to make sure your business remains up to date for readers?
  • Where applicable, remind customers of any policies for cancellations if you have them in contracts and have them contact you for any further queries they might have or if you are offering anything to make their lives easier during a time of uncertainty such as waivers, discounts or special offers.
  • Encourage customers to self-isolate if they feel unwell, have travelled overseas over the past few weeks or have been in contact with someone who is diagnosed with the virus until they are cleared by their health professional. Also, encourage them to wash their hands to stop the spread of any potential germs. Enforce a no service policy if a customer is unwell to protect yourself, staff and other customers if necessary.
  • Highlight that you are following the advice of the health departments as you are not a health expert and that you encourage anyone who would like more information on protecting themselves to read the current health department updates. Insert any appropriate links to help them find this easily.
  • Always remember to thank your customers for their patience and cooperation during a time of uncertainty and that the support is always valued.

Please note that this is a guide on how to communicate to your customers effectively. If you do have to deal with COVID-19 directly through your business, it is important to speak to the proper authorities for their recommendations and advice on this health matter and tailor your response and plan accordingly.

Demelza Leonard, digital marketing and social media expert

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