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How to communicate during a crisis

Recently, chocolate manufacturer Ferrero had to pull their popular Kinder brand chocolate off the shelves in several countries due to food contamination. This crisis highlights the fact that things can still go awry for all businesses, despite processes put in place to avoid them.

Even the smallest mistakes can result in drastic consequences, especially if your supply chain spreads across multiple countries. A wrongly typed date in an email can result in a late shipment of goods, which might delay your customers’ plans. Or it could be a result of marketing efforts, such as when a social media post indicates free giveaways when there is none.

While human error might be the reason for your crisis, some events are out of your control. The Covid-19 pandemic is the best example. While not the supplier’s fault, shipping delays can lead to very unhappy customers. In fact, shipment delivery is one of the top reasons Southeast Asian customers are dissatisfied with their purchases.

So how can you communicate clearly and effectively, both to stakeholders and customers? Here are three things you can keep in mind:

Plan your next steps

Once something goes wrong, plan your next steps. Project confidence in your actions when you speak to stakeholders. For your employees to assure customers confidently, they themselves must buy into your plan to manage the situation.

You can create a blueprint for navigating tough times before it arises. The plan can include: 

  • Assembling a crisis communication team. 
  • Dedicate a trained spokesperson to handle any media enquiries. 
  • Prepare various responses to quickly tweak and disseminate to the media.
  • Select social media channels where you might want to disseminate your message.

When a crisis happens, your stakeholders will want to hear from you, so make time to reach out to them.

Open communication

Communication is key. If something unforeseen has happened, you need to reach out to customers. Having quick access to customer details is crucial. You should be proactive and communicate the situation’s impact before they even hear of it.

It is also important to keep all communication consistent across social media, websites, and other outreach methods. Place all crisis communication information in one place, so customers do not have to hunt for the info.

You need to offer valuable information to your customers through social media, email or any online community to show that you care. One good example is how co-working space Found 8 quickly put together an online guide at the start of the Covid-19 virus outbreak to share resources on how their users in Singapore and Malaysia could get help. Since Found 8 clients are mostly startup entrepreneurs and freelancers, this comprehensive guide showed their clients how much they care.

If you require an efficient system for keeping your customers’ details in one place, a smart POS terminal like Qashier could help. It manages all customer’s details at the point of sale, so you can quickly access this database when you need to communicate any information. Sometimes a heartfelt email to your customers outlining the situation is more important than any 5 step plan.

Listen to feedback

Even with the best crisis communication plan, you have to expect frustration and unhappiness. But rather than shutting it down, allow people to provide feedback through safe channels.

Even if you are still investigating the cause of any mistake, keep a 2-way dialogue open and allow customers to voice their feedback. Your responses don’t have to be lengthy. Instead, keep it warm and communicate that you are hearing and listening to your customers.

Case in point, Marriott International put a smiley face on their hotel buildings in various cities, including Bangkok, Jakarta, and Mumbai, as a sign of solidarity with their customers during a global pandemic.

Conclusion

Customer communication is essential even in good times but becomes even more critical when a crisis strikes. Ensuring that you have a way to reach your customers and communicate openly will help you navigate the situation and minimise the damage.

Qashier smart POS solutions has multiple functionalities including a cloud-based database where you can key in customer details for easy retrieval when you require it.

Qashier promises a seamless setup within 10 minutes, without any need for technical expertise. It boasts a user-friendly interface that is simple for anyone to learn and use. If you require assistance, you’ll find 7-days-a-week responsive technical support from the team.

Qashier is also affordable, with prices starting from as low as SGD1/day (in Singapore with a PSG grant), and this includes hardware, software, setup, training and 7-days-a-week local support.

Speak to us to see if Qashier’s Smart POS can meet your business needs. Schedule a meeting with us here, drop us a line at (+65) 3165 0155, WhatsApp (+65) 8882 8912 or email hello@qashier.com.