Things are bad right now. Many businesses are closed. People are anxious as they stay home and ride out this global pandemic behind closed doors. And let’s not even talk about the stock market.
But believe there’s light at the end of the tunnel. Eventually, the threat to public health from the COVID-19 crisis will fade away. And when it does, the steps you take right now to build the reputation of your business will determine whether it survives or gets pulled into the virus’s economic fallout.
Now Is the Time for Action
There are two reasons to act right now to protect the future of your business. The first is that to do nothing is to guarantee failure.
Sure, your doors may currently be closed, your customers may be locked in their houses, and you may not even be able to provide products or services at this moment even if you wanted to.
But what about next month when many of the protective orders are lifted? What about this summer when the economy starts to bounce back and life returns to normal? What about 2021 and beyond?
You can’t afford to take a wait and see attitude. If you don’t do something to save your business now, you won’t have a chance later.
People Are Stuck at Home
The second is that this unfortunate circumstance offers the rare opportunity of giving you a captive audience.
Most people right now literally have nothing else to do but look at their phones, scroll through their Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and other social media accounts, and watch as the world deals with this global crisis.
People are looking for heroes. They want positive stories even in the midst of the unending torrent of bad news coming over their news feeds. They want to be reassured that humanity is resilient and capable of unbelievable bravery even in the face of a dire crisis.
Communicate with Your Customers
If you haven’t done it already, you need to communicate with your customers right now. Today.
Let them know that you still exist. Be transparent in what you are doing to cope with this crisis. If you are still open for business, tell them that. If you aren’t, tell them when you expect to be. Or at least give them some hope that you eventually will be once the crisis is over.
Tell them what specific steps you are taking to protect their health. Have you increased the intensity and frequency of your cleaning? Let people know. Are you taking steps to shore up your supply chain so you can continue to provide your customers with the products and services they depend on? Tell them that!
Reassure your customers that while it may not be business as usual right now, you are doing everything you can to make sure they are protected and safe and that life will one day go back to normal. And when it does, you will be there for them
Do Something to Help
Now is the time to take care of other people. Without putting yourself or your health at risk, what can you do to help your customers? Your employees? Your community?
Do you have enough saved to continue paying your employees even though they are at home with their families? You might consider doing it. Not only will it go a long way toward building strong loyalty bonds with the people who work for you, it also is a good thing to do. It will help your people get through a tough time. And it will allow your customers and your community see you as a company that cares about its people.
Some restaurants that have been ordered closed by local health officials are donating the perishable food they have in their coolers to people in their community or to food banks.
Is there anything your business can do to provide direct help to people? Can you buy groceries or personal care products for your employees or for people in your community?
Now would be a great time to make that donation to the American Red Cross or to other agencies struggling to deal with this global health crisis. Can you volunteer your time or put together a group of workers neighbors to check on the elderly and disabled by phone or text daily?
Give It Away
This is an extraordinary crisis and it requires an extraordinary response by your business. What can you do to take care of your customers while also reinforcing the loyalty bonds that will be so critical to your success once this crisis has passed?
LA Fitness took down the paywall on their website to give members access to normally paid content video so their clients can continue to do workout routines at home even if they can’t go to the gym. They also suspended dues and automatically extended their members’ subscriptions for the length of the crisis.
The Walt Disney Company added the hit movie “Frozen 2” to their Disney+ streaming service months ahead of schedule so parents dealing with kids stuck at home because of school closings could have a few hours or relief.
Universal Pictures took its movies currently in theaters and put them on on-demand so people sheltering in place can see the latest releases without leaving their homes.
What extraordinary steps can your business take to help people while simultaneously building your brand and reinforcing customer loyalty?
The things you do now will define how people will think of your business once this crisis has passed. Do you want to be the hero of the villain?