No matter where in the world you’re located, it’s likely that you’ve been impacted by COVID-19 in one way or another. As our understanding of the virus continues to develop, it’s becoming increasingly important for both consumers and brands to quickly adjust to new information.
One consequence of this dynamic landscape is that many brands are realizing that they need to communicate with customers more frequently than they’re used to. If you’re a brand learning to navigate the challenge of communicating effectively with customers, we have a suggestion that may help: use video!
Video aids your ability to communicate important information with customers for several reasons.
First, it feels authentic. We’ve covered video’s authenticity time and time again, but it’s worth repeating. Consumers enjoy watching video content because they value authentic connections. In a digital landscape filled with bots, spam, impersonalized messages, and templatized content, using video allows you to stand out because it feels more like a conversation than an abstract online encounter. This is doubly true if you feature real people in your videos. When you want to make a real connection with viewers (which is especially appreciated while COVID-related tensions run high), video is your best bet.
Second, video is a great way to communicate complex or important points. Because video combines visual imagery and audio, it’s a great way to reach consumers across a variety of learning styles. For audio learners, the voiceover is critical. For visual learners, the imagery or on-screen text might carry more weight. In either case, your information is more likely to resonate because you’re reinforcing your message in multiple ways.
Third, video is both shareable and easy to reference later. In a situation like COVID-19, both of these features are crucial. The shareable aspect of video makes it easier for your content to reach everyone it needs to reach. Then, the “easy to reference” element saves your customers from having to remember the details of every update you share, which would be difficult given how many brands’ updates they’re probably receiving on a daily basis.
You might be thinking, “Wait, a blog post or website page would also be shareable and easy to reference, right?” Yes, but put yourself in the consumer’s shoes. If one person sends you a blog post and another sends you short video, which are you more likely to open?
Most people would say the video. But, more importantly, these options don’t actually have to be mutually exclusive! If you’re worried about losing people who would prefer written content, go ahead and write the post you have in mind. Then, take it one step further. Use the same content as voiceover for a quick video, and embed the video in your post. Problem solved!
Given these merits of video content, here are some do’s and don’ts for communicating COVID-19 updates with customers.
- DO communicate promptly whenever you have new information or something you said previously has changed. If you’ve changed policies, amended your hours or re-open date, or anything of that nature, communicate those updates with customers as efficiently as possible. Even if you justsent out a message to customers, communicate right away when things change so that you don’t catch your customers off guard.
- DO reach your customers on the platforms where they’re expecting information from you.Depending on your brand, this might mean using social platforms, posting on your website, or sending an email update. When in doubt, share your message in multiple places to make sure it reaches everyone who needs to see it.
- DO set a standard for when and where customers can expect future updates. If you post a video on your website on the 1st of the month, for example, you could tell customers to expect another update on the 1st of the following month in the same place. It’s important to commit to some kind of regular update—whether anything has specifically changed in that timeframe or not—so that your customers know what to expect and can be confident that they know where to find the latest information. If you plan to use a different avenue for urgent, time-sensitive updates, make sure to mention that, too.
- DO offer an avenue for customers to reach you to ask questions or voice concerns. Your customers may have questions that your updates don’t answer. For those cases, make sure your customers understand how and where to reach you. Note that this means you have to monitor these channels! Don’t point customers to an email address you rarely check or a social account where messages won’t ever reach you.
- DON’T make promises you can’t keep. Given the unpredictability associated with COVID, a good rule of thumb is to avoid making firm commitments that you may have to amend later. Instead, tell customers what you hope to be able to accomplish (like a tentative reopen date or this week’s policies) with the expectation that you’ll provide updates as your plans firm up over time.
- DON’T communicate information from unreliable sources. This is especially true for health and safety measures and local regulations. If you can’t verify something you hear using a reliable source (ideally multiple reliable sources), don’t pass that information on to customers.
- DON’T communicate too frequently, especially if you have nothing new to share. Try to stick to the communication timeline you established with customers in tip #3. If new information comes up outside of that timeline, go ahead and share it. Otherwise, stick to your schedule. We all know what it feels like to get vague, meaningless email updates under the guise of providing important COVID information, and it’s a waste of everyone’s time.
Pro tip: using video is a great litmus test here. Most of us wouldn’t think twice about filling the body of an email with empty pleasantries or updates that we’ve already provided, but having to communicate out loud and on camera forces you to think through what you actually have to say.
If you realize your customers don’t need the information you’re about to share, don’t share it—unless you explicitly promised a status update. If that’s the case, keep it short and sweet (something along the lines of, “Nothing has changed, so as a reminder, here are the policies we currently have in place…”).
There you have it! Use these tips to develop a plan to communicate with customers as your business continues to change over the coming months, and whenever possible, use video to carry your message. Your customers will appreciate the authenticity now more than ever.