Communication in the midst of Covid? Go DIGITAL.

As a consultant offering Digital Marketing services, I have always been conscious of how important but overlooked digital is. Always expected to show up and show out with as few resources as possible. The afterthought in strategy but the headliner in execution. As I explained to my friends how I thought some business people would respond to revenue dips in these times, by cutting non-essential services and focusing on core business, out of my mouth came the solution to my own problem. ‘What they really should be doing is leveraging their digital platforms and pushing customers to communicate through them and stop coming into locations so they can serve them that way.’

I wish I could say the moment the words slipped out I had an Oprah ‘Aha’ moment and I realized my own brilliance, BUT that wouldn’t be true. Instead, it was a one-liner from that WhatApp group that pulled the trigger… ‘Why don’t you make the suggestion?’

So here we are. Me, officially an ESSENTIAL service provider. You, reading and hopefully putting into action my suggestions.

  1. Evaluate Your Foot Traffic

Hopefully, as management, you are planning not only how to physically secure the health of those in your facilities but also how you can reduce traffic into your locations while not denying people service. Take a quick survey of exactly what people come into your locations to do. Are the majority of your walk-ins making queries? Can the services they need to access be done remotely? What is the purpose of the physical touchpoint in your business? Can it be bypassed even temporarily?

List them in order of the popularity of usage by the customer. It may also be useful to prioritize those that help you earn revenue. For example, walk-ins to make queries about your service may be the most popular, but walk-in’s to drop off paperwork to begin accessing your service may be of a higher priority to your business as this is an action that will lead directly to revenue.

2.Vet Your Communication Mediums

Once you ascertain the services that can be rendered without coming into a location the next step is to figure out how to leverage existing or new digital services to address them.

The average business will have phone lines, a WhatsApp line, dedicated email, 1 or 2 social media platforms and a website that can be accessed at will by a customer. The fact is though, not all mediums or queries are created equal and so if there are no attempts to streamline how each medium is used, you can definitely expect greater customer frustrations as they pepper the most popular mediums with every single query.

Who is in charge of each medium? How quickly can the information be provided? Do staff members need to be in one location to provide feedback? Which mediums are customers most familiar with? Answering these questions will get you on track to ranking the efficiency of each medium.

For example, manning landlines based in locations will need staff onhand with queries being handled chronologically as they come in.WhatsApp, social media and mobile-based calls, however, can easily be done remotely and allow multiple clients to be handled at once with the option of even using Bots or automated responders, ergo it may be more efficient to push your basic queries to these mediums and preserve the phone lines for urgent one on ones.

A quick side note: Do your customers actually KNOW about the other ways they can contact you? Will the service they receive be just as solid? Let them know!

3. STREAMLINE! Match queries to appropriate mediums, and share them with your customers so they know what to do.

Here’s an example. John wants to know if you are still open for business, Jane wants to check on something she ordered last week, Gillian just wants to submit her paperwork to update her account with you and Fred wants to purchase that last item you promoted. All 4 of these customers used to walk in but because of advisories are now afraid to.

If all 4 of these customers try to call in at the same time 3 of the 4 customers will encounter either a busy tone or a long wait to have their query addressed, potentially costing you a sale or reflecting very poorly on your customer service.

If however the customers were made aware of your alternative communication mediums and the robustness & accuracy of the information they can access there they would be more willing to utilize mediums that are just as helpful but require less manpower from your organization and even more importantly can be provided remotely.

Sensitize and manage the expectations of your customers by making it clear what you want to do and why. Prepare them for the experience!

4. Support alternative communication mediums with qualified and knowledgeable human resources.

Tech many times is only as good as the human supporting it so ensure the team member(s) tasked with managing these platforms are abreast of the expectations, have all the resources and information they need, are kept in the loop and of course have access to their own support networks.

This may be a simplification of the complexities that come with switching over to digital systems as your primary support for your business communications but as a strong believer in the African proverb that says, when you pray move your feet, I pray that these steps will begin you on the path to making the most of a bad situation.

PS – this only tackles the business to customer communication.. I found a great article that highlights technologies your business can use to get your staff working remotely as well. Read it here: Remote working and data protection considerations in the face of the COVID-19 threat. – Chukwuemeka Cameron

Stay safe yall.

Liked this article? Share it! Have your own tips or experiences you would like to share? Drop a comment below. Follow me on Instagram @raecallaghan or on Twitter at raecallaghan17