Action is what matters right now.
If you are a business leader, business owner, working professional, I know you are trying to do the best you can, and you are probably doing great.
You are keeping up with global, national and local updates.
You are learning hourly the impact that COVID – 19 is having or will have on your work and economic situation, personal and professional life.
You are seeking ways of feeling good in such dangerous and terrifying times, knowing that there is a human need to help each other more than ever.
So where to begin in being helpful towards people?
To assist with the overwhelm of communicating and relating to your customers and colleagues, I have compiled the most essential and practical article below, in what to do and say in servicing your customers and colleagues during the crisis of COVID – 19.
To best serve you, in the last 7 days I have paused all my posts on social media and my regular article writing. I have taken the time to go within, find some stillness in the chaos and listen and watch outwardly before deciding what is the most helpful information I can share.
This has not been an excuse to withdraw from the affairs of the world, but to consider how I can be most helpful to you.
Here is my best attempt to help you act proactively (if you haven’t already) or provide you with a checklist for customers and colleagues. My goal for these checklists is that they are;
- Suggestions for unprecedented times (it is not business as usual)
- They aim to alleviate anxiety and stress
- And takes the necessary humanitarian action in moments that matter
For you customers:
- Be transparent and let them know what changes to your business have occurred, ie; what services have ceased, what products are no longer available. A great way to do this is think about the questions that some of your customers may have and anticipate this with a solid list of FAQS (frequently asked questions). For example, if my yoga studio is now closed does that mean that as a customer my direct debit payment is paused? You want to put yourself in the customers shoes more now than ever and anticipate what might be on their mind, based on the impact your business has to them. Alleviate any additional stress in their lives by answering those questions up front. Take the obstacles away from the customers, where they must seek the answers themselves.
- Give people options and alternatives if you have a way of doing so? Think through scenarios and imagine ways of people accessing your business differently, respecting the social distancing measures in place. Ie; Can you provide things that you would normally do face to face online. Now is the time to be creative, think differently and create new rules of engagement.
- Honour any loyalty programs, or status to customers as it stands today for 12 months. My sister in-law last week was worried about taking her child out of childcare, in case she lost the placement or her child at that pre – school. This is an example where businesses can proactively communicate what their stance is on status and placements and again, alleviate unnecessary questioning and guess work. I absolutely loved receiving emails from Qantas and Virgin last week informing me that they will honour my current frequent flyer points and put a 12 months extension in place. One less phone call or internet search I have to do, one less thing for me to worry about, thank you.
- Apply standard procedures flexibly. The world is rewriting rules right before our very eyes. Business as Usual does not exist and now is the time to be flexible and adapt. What changes have you made to your refund policies, have you considered looking at your standard procedures and terms and conditions to suit the times? Aim for a win – win solution where people see that you are being fair and reasonable. Now is not the time to be rigid, now is the time to be bendy and apply common sense to contracts and agreements.
- Communicate helpful messages don’t add to more noise and more email traffic unnecessarily. Every time you send out something to your customers check in to see how helpful you are being. Yes, thank them for their patience and well wishes of health and safety, and get on with providing solutions, answers and useful suggestions. Empathy is needed and it also requires action.
For your colleagues:
- Be transparent and let them know what changes, impact is being had on the business. Similar to the first point for customers.; a set of FAQ’s is a great way to communicate change. Another great way to communicate facts and make sure that employees are not confused with communication is explain What this is and What this is not. Sometimes when you spell out black and white the contrast of what is happening versus what people believe is happening, you can eliminate misunderstandings, rumours, assumptions and wasted worrying from employees.
- Over communicate the mission/vision of your business and the Values of your business. The job of leaders during a time of crisis and uncertainty is to protect the hope of their followers. By bringing people back to the company mission and Values, reminds them of the collective that they are a part of, why they are drawn to your business in the first place and may even inspire some people to think differently about how to achieve those visions and missions and how to live those values during times of isolation and social distancing. You want them to be advocates of your business when we come out the other end.
- Be impeccable with your word. Language at a time like this has a huge impact on people’s mindsets. Choose your words wisely. Slow down your talking on the phone and take a step back on any written communications before you press send. Language that is compassionate, helpful and human is what to weave in and out of the facts, tough decisions and clinical response that may need to be given from time to time. Speak to employees digitally and written like you would if they were in the room and you could see their faces.
Helpful language Language that is not so helpful Thank you for your patience We can’t do that…. We are able to … You have to… Have you considered …. Unfortunately… I can only imagine….. Why didn’t you…. What do you need? I’m sorry it is what it is…. You are doing great… I’m trying really hard… Here is how to contact me…. I’ll keep you posted..
- Stay connected. We are social animals that are now being instructed to keep our social distancing. The subtle mental and emotional distress that this causes people will have a longer-term impact and you can be proactive right now by addressing this. If you haven’t already set up a series of weekly or fortnightly team webinars where people can come on line and connect. Eg. For all of my clients that I am currently in contract with I have set up webinars to support their people each week /fortnight in gathering on line and facilitating a conversation on certain topics and themes. This gives people an outlet to talk, share and learn from each other – most of all an outlet to stay connected. Here are just some of the topics that I have offered
- How to serve yourself during times of social distancing and caring for others
- Dealing with stress and overwhelm
- Keeping calm and making decisions from that centred place
- How to cope when it all goes to sh!t
- Rise above setbacks and failures
- Good news bad news – who knows!
- The ultimate service mindset to choose for your happiness and others
If you are reading this and would like similar support, please email my team at [email protected] and we will set up something similar for you. Likewise, if you would like to access my public webinar each week, we can invite your teams to join in. Go to my LinkedIn platform for dates, times and Zoom links for these webinars.
We are experiencing a recalibration in the world right now, and it feels brutal.
There will be a new world order. Self-care and inner work are one thing, and equally what matters is what you do right now.
The spirit of service is needed like never before.
I am here to be helpful in this time and you can contact me via [email protected]
To see people who will notice a need in the world and do something about it… Those are my heroes. – Fred Rogers.
‘Love Being in Service’