Communication with customers is critical during a crisis AND under normal circumstances
In the midst of all the rapid-fire changes in response to the Coronavirus, we’d like to remind you how critically important it is to communicate clearly with your customers. This is true of every business, but in the current environment it is especially true for businesses that interact face-to-face with their customers: retail, banking, healthcare, consulting, and most especially restaurants (for obvious reasons).
Communicating clearly about your plans will become increasingly critical if an order comes down to close all “non-essential” businesses as has happened in Ohio and Illinois today.
Over the past four days, we have advised some of our restaurant clients to issue statements explaining what they are doing to combat the virus and to reassure customers that it is safe to eat in their establishments. While our focus has been on restaurants, the need for clear and timely communication about the steps you are taking to protect your employees and/or customers is not limited to restaurants.
The statements we prepared for Main Street Diner in Frankfort (read it here) and the Brown Barrel in Midway (read it here) are not drastically different from those above. Their goal is to reassure customers that they are both safe places to dine. To further promote the Main Street Diner in Frankfort, we also suggested that the State-Journal write a story about steps local businesses – and especially Main Street Diner – are taking in response to the Coronavirus. You can read that story here.
Regardless of your business sector and regardless of the current crisis, communicating with your patrons is critical. Doing so can be as simple as leaving a handwritten note on the door when you are closing for an hour or for the entire day or week. You can also post notices on your website, via Google, or via e-mail or text message if you have that capability. If not, we can help you develop it quickly for the current situation, and/or for later use.
There are plenty of examples just this week from nationally known companies:
- Nike announced this morning that they will be closing all their US stores and stores in several other countries for two weeks.
- Taco Bell announced yesterday that they will begin closing their dining rooms and will start operating only via drive-thru and delivery.
- Wal-Mart and several other retailers have announced that – for the time being anyway – they will no longer be open 24 hours per day.
- McDonald’s has issued a statement about their “commitment to cleanliness and doing right….”
- Chick-fil-A has issued a statement on “preparation and response for COVID-19.”
- KFC has issued “An important note to our guests about Coronavirus.”
I can’t claim to know all the reasons, but we can assume there are at least two factors at play in these moves. The first is public relations: These companies want the public to perceive them as acting responsibly by taking proactive steps to mitigate the spread of the virus. The second is practical: They have an interest in protecting their employees and customers, but in a slowing economic time, it makes sense to reduce the number of employees and the overhead that comes with them. Both are laudable goals, but the key is that they are communicating with their customers, which keeps them positive and top-of-mind.
For our part, I want to reassure our clients that Five Oaks is here to help you through this difficult time. Please don’t hesitate to call on us at 502-545-1588.
Credit to CDC.gov for the image.