In just a few months, we have seen a global coronavirus pandemic impact our lives in ways we would never have thought possible at the beginning of this year. Businesses have implemented bold changes in the way they communicate, both with their own people and with their customers, to cope with this seismic shift.
How Has Communication Changed?
Social distancing, limited access to public areas, and other preventive measures have resulted in new ways of communication that are actually more time- and cost-efficient than the methods they have replaced.
In the medical sector, telephone consultations have replaced many GP and outpatient visits, while service providers such as hairdressers now use online booking portals. Both were designed to mitigate the risk of cross-contamination, but have the added benefit of no waiting room queues.
The retail sector has seen a radical shift from the high street to e-commerce, with greater opportunities to target consumers with offers and promotions that reflect their own specific interests.
As another example, look at the exponential growth in the use of video conferencing platforms.
Teams that once shared offices and now work remotely from home are meeting regularly over Zoom.
Sales personnel who once travelled great distances to meet clients, may in the course of a morning have face-to-face discussions with customers located the length and width of the country and overseas, without leaving their desk.
Are We Communicating More?
Communications are becoming faster and more agile, as indeed they need to be. With the situation constantly evolving and government responses to it changing by the week, companies must keep their people and customers informed on measures that will maintain business continuity while preventing the spread of Covid-19.
With most sectors negatively impacted, businesses are innovating to survive. We are implementing new, more efficient business practices, and diversifying into new products and markets – some of these created by the pandemic itself – and we need to make our teams and customers aware of these changes.
We are also communicating more frequently with staff, many of whom are working remotely from home or self-isolating, and many anxious about their job future, to maintain mental health and prevent feelings of loneliness or depression.
Customer-facing communications are also increasing, as the fallout of the pandemic is creating an economic downturn that will require increased marketing activity for us to maintain our share of a dwindling market.
Are We Communicating Differently?
Another interesting consequence of the pandemic changing our lives is that even in business, on a personal level we are becoming more aware of each other as people.
While Covid and its consequences continue to present a threat to health and economic stability, we will be judged by how well the message and tone of our communications resonate with our people and customers.
If we as businesses are to emerge strongly from this current crisis, we must communicate with transparency, humility, authenticity and empathy. These will be the deciding factors that will secure customer loyalty and be remembered in the years to come.
Will This Be The New Normal?
While some measures are clearly unique to the present time, it is highly likely that where we find that forced changes bring unexpected benefits, we will probably adopt them permanently. But will we continue to communicate as frequently, and will tone of voice return to the more strident, aggressive manner that characterised many pre-pandemic business communications?
We will probably see a conflict between two very human emotions. On the one side, our survival instincts will compel us to revert to aggressive marketing techniques, but on the other, we have revealed (or at least portrayed) a more caring attitude that will have been noticed, responded to and remembered by our people and customers.
If we now abandon this for commercial expediency, we risk accusations of cynical exploitation that could cause us far-reaching and lasting damage. What if we were to resist the urge to revert to business as usual, and become the caring, conscientious company of 2020?
How Are You Communicating?
Good written communication doesn’t come easily to everyone. We might be a professional at our job, be able to run a multi-million-pound organisation, or even stand up and speak to an audience of thousands without breaking into a sweat, but when it comes to putting pen to paper – or maybe nowadays, putting cursor to Word document – it’s something quite different.
Well if that sounds familiar, you can relax; you’re not alone and what’s more, The Write Company can help you communicate with confidence. Just tell us what you’re trying to say, what you’re hoping the message will achieve and where you’re going to be using it (we write for blogs and web pages, adverts and brochures, technical manuals and corporate videos, reports and presentations) and we’ll do the rest.