How can we strike a communication balance of keeping the tone respectful and calm, but also transparent, setting an accurate picture of what our clients can expect?
Many businesses are finding themselves asking valid questions about how and when they should speak to their target audience. It is completely fair to tread lightly right now and to review any planned communications you have scheduled to go out, ensuring the messaging is respectful and appropriate.
Beyond that, here are a few quick things to consider:
If you are speaking on the phone or in person with a client, be very careful not to jump into business too quickly. Realize the sensitivity of this moment and begin with an open-ended question, simply “First, I wanted to check in and see how you are doing? Are there ways I can support you/your team/your business right now?”
Consider what your audience might need to hear from you. If you have made the decision to make virtual business your “new normal” or even part of a new hybrid model, have you announced that publicly, outlining all of the details and options to connect with your team? If you hold a physical space, do you need to outline your reopening procedures and how you plan to keep your team, and visitors safe? Knowing what to expect before arriving in your space will make everyone feel a little more at ease. If someone is planning to meet in your space, consider adding a landing page to your website or an attachment to the meeting confirmation email that will explain what they can expect.
Honor that not everyone will have the same requirements in their own workspaces or homes. Review your reopening wording to ensure it is clear, but not negative or accusatory. For example, instead of “All patrons MUST have their temperature taken by an infrared thermometer before entering the building.” consider, “In order to enter the building, a team member will take your temperature using an infrared thermometer.” Then, take it the extra step, “If you prefer not to visit us in person, you can find alternate ways to stay in touch here...” and be sure to provide those details.
Finally, as we continue to navigate many changes and challenges it is important to be authentic and kind. There will be hiccups. As I’ve told many of my clients, you will receive a comment on your social media platforms or a reply to a drip campaign email asking a really hard question or criticizing the steps you are taking to reopen.
The best thing we can do right now is be kind and transparent. We are all emerging from this crisis in different ways.
About the Author: Jean Boen is the founder of J. Roberts Consulting and the Director of Annual Giving at The College of Wooster. She loves to tell stories. Whether that's using a digital platform, print, or a good old-fashioned conversation. Connect with Jean here.