In the wake of the coronavirus, the whole world essentially went digital in just a week.
This massive shift comes with significant but surmountable business challenges. The truth is, there’s no such thing as “business as usual” right now. Having a plan in place to ensure business can continue on as best as possible, despite the real and often scary disruptions we are facing every day, is essential for this crisis—and future ones.
Business continuity plans
Life in the age of COVID-19 is a fluid situation no one has ever seen before. News sources, politicians, scientists, and medical experts are all responding to new information in real time, leaving us as business leaders no choice but to do the same.
To learn more about how to adapt your business continuity plan to the unique situation we find ourselves in, and how you can create one now if you don’t yet have one in place, read more here about the key components of an effective business continuity plan through the lens of COVID-19.
How businesses can be prepared
During this crisis and for the unknown risks ahead, the foundation of an effective business continuity plan is characterized by elasticity, flexibility, and scalability of your communications and customer engagement infrastructure. Thanks to application platforms, companies of all industries are empowering their software teams to use application program interfaces (APIs) to build crisis responses that can suit their business needs and customers’ unique preferences as they change –– without the limitations of an out-of-the-box solution’s predefined product roadmap.
Flexible and responsive crisis communications
Companies have more digital channels for communication at their disposal than ever before, and knowing which ones consumers prefer matters as much as the content itself. Effective crisis communications, both within an organization as well as between a company and its customers, requires a delicate balance between providing relevant information in a timely manner without contributing to panic or already heightened states of stress. Before sending out communications to customers, it’s important to consider three key considerations: channel, frequency, and content.
While 67 percent of consumers prefer to receive COVID-19 communications from businesses over email, generally, text is 2.5x more preferred than email for urgent communications.
Read the global study on consumer engagement preferences.
While 47 percent of consumers want to hear from companies either with the same frequency as before COVID-19 or more frequently, there is variance between age groups. More specifically, 18-29 year olds were 40 percent more likely than all other ages to say they want a normal cadence of communication from companies; 30-44 year olds were 27 percent more likely to want an increased frequency of communication; and 11 percent of 45-60 year olds said they prefer not to hear from companies at all.
A pandemic is not the time to sell, it’s a time to serve. Make sure your organization is providing tools and information that are of value in the moment.
Our research found that the two types of messages consumers are most interested in receiving from businesses amid COVID-19 are:
1. Critical updates about what they can expect from an individual company. Is your business closing or offering alternative ways to continue to engage? — 53 percent
2. Inspiration and strategies to stay safe and healthy based on a company’s area of expertise. Do you have ideas for how to ease the stress your customers may be experiencing? — 37 percent.
Examples of COVID-19 response communications
Two-Way SMS alerts and notifications
With social distancing mandates in place, many pet clinics are relying on PetDesk, a client communication software for pet care providers in the United States and Canada to communicate health service reminders, appointment requests, and confirmations. The PetDesk team is offering its two-way SMS messaging service for free to help clinics respond to their pet parent clients with up-to-the-minute alerts on closures, new policies, and conduct “touchless visits.”
IVR and SMS surveys
CipherHealth, an end-to-end patient engagement platform, has launched a screening outreach program specific to COVID-19 to ensure that patients who may have symptoms of the virus do not arrive for elective procedures and tests and potentially expose others. Patients receive either an automated phone call or text message. From there, they answer a series of questions through their keypad. Based on their responses, a provider reaches out to the patient for a deeper symptom screening and assessment of comorbidities. The program also provides patients with information on where to seek care and facilitates a direct call with a member of the care team to reschedule procedures and further screen for identified symptoms.
A multichannel contact center
Australian company Noggin has been in the crisis response, security, and incident management industry for more than a decade, helping companies and organizations worldwide better handle challenging situations with an integrated, all-hazards approach to safety and security management. Noggin launched two free Noggin Epidemic Response Modules –– one for businesses managing their corporate response to COVID-19, and one for public health authorities and healthcare agencies. The latter allows operators to stand up a mobile healthcare command center that enables reaching those in need via email, SMS, and phone calls.
The ambiguity of this global pandemic makes it important now more than ever for every organization to rise to the challenge and figure out how to best engage and support their colleagues, employees, customers, and partners alike. To learn more about how to engage and serve customers amidst our new normal watch our online video series, Engage Everywhere.