The COVID-19 pandemic has created an unprecedented situation for everyone, and many businesses are unaware of what they should be saying to clients, how they should say it and when they should be talking to them. They are also confused as to what customers want from their business, in these difficult times.

This is understandable it’s a surreal business environment but the need to engage with your clients has never been as important.  Any business that fails to do this is damaging the long term relationship with its clients.

People will appreciate and stay loyal to brands and businesses that don’t go away.

They will respect a business that despite the uncertain times communicates with them in an honest and open manner.

Read more: Ireland faces its worst recession in history due to COVID-19

No matter how you have agreed to communicate with your clients it’s essential you are talking to and keeping them informed about:

  • What services you can and can’t provide?
  • What information they can expect to receive from you in the future?
  • When will they receive this?
  • How you will be communicating with them in the future and more importantly
  • How they can reach you in an emergency.

What do consumers want to hear?

There are a lot of commentators who will give you advice on how you normally communicate with clients during a crisis, but this is an unprecedented event, and the old rules don’t apply. Twitter decided to conduct a global survey of its users to find out more about what people want and expect to hear and see from businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Here is what they found.

64% said brands should continue advertising products as normal

Now, that's not an overwhelming majority, but the consensus appears to be that people are supportive of brands looking to maintain their operations as much as possible amid the outbreak, and that includes ongoing communications.

52% agreed that seeing/hearing communications gives them a sense of normality

This is an interesting perspective, and somewhat reinforces the first point, people are open to advertising and ongoing communications, even as a form of comfort and normality.

Because let's face it, nothing is truly 'normal' at the moment. It could well be that maintaining regular promotions plays a part in helping people feel more comfortable with an uncertain situation.

What communications are you continuing to issue? Or have you stopped talking?

The survey also uncovered some interesting consumer attitudes to the way businesses are responding to COVID-19.

77% agreed they feel more positively about brands making an effort to support society at the moment.

For those that are able, providing support to the communities that support your business is a key way to both promote your brand and consolidate connections with your clients.

 Only 7% of respondents said brands should continue using their normal brand tone of voice.

Again, this is not business as normal and clearly, consumers expect businesses to acknowledge such. 

Two other interesting responses jumped out at me.

82% of respondents said that brands should look to support frontline health staff, where possible.

80% said that brands should show how they’re supporting their employees.

Much of this goes without saying, but it further underlines the need to consider those impacted by the crisis, and what possible role your business can play to assist.

70% of respondents said brands should boost positivity and share positive stories

People are looking for inspiration, for hope amid the looming specter of COVID-19. It's hard for many to see any light at the end of the tunnel, as the constantly updated charts show infection and death rates climbing.

Informing your clients of how you are doing this is both a worthy exercise and a good way to enhance your brand values and build client loyalty and satisfaction.

What positive stories can you share with your clients perhaps on social media?

So with all this in mind how robust is your existing COVID-19 communications strategy?

Do you even have one?

If not, it’s time to think about how you will communicate with your clients and business alliances.

Remember it’s good to talk.

Next week I’ll be sharing some ideas on how to develop a simple communications strategy. 

Read more: Irish Young Scientist winner raises $16 million for data privacy start-up

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