Adapting to COVID-19

Business, not as usual: A guide to COVID-19 response and business continuity


  • Janet Alexander
    Janet Alexander
  • Apr 23, 2020
TLDR

Before sending out communications to customers, it’s important to consider three key considerations: channel, frequency, and content.

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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.

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.

Watch this on-demand webinar about reliably reaching people at scale with mass alerts and notifications.

Three considerations for sending messages

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.

Explore more in our online video series, Engage Everywhere.

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Janet Alexander

Janet Alexander

Janet has a decade of professional writing experience. With a focus on B2B technology, she helps Twilio's subject matter experts, product managers, and customers share their expertise, knowledge, and unique points of view through thought leadership, storytelling, and customer resources.