This is the 5th instalment in our series of Pandemic Protection Plan videos and blogs. This series is designed to help you and your business survive, stabilise and strengthen during the coronavirus crisis.

And today, we’re in Stabilise mode and I’m going to look at communication – both internally and externally.

Watch the video or read about it below.

Internally

When you’re working remotely, you need to keep in touch.

Here at JDA, we’re using Zoom for our internal meetings. It’s a quick and easy way to get up and running with virtual meetings and the shyer members of staff can even hide their face!

Top tip: when entering a meeting, make sure you enter with your microphone muted – it’ll prevent you from interrupting any conversations that are already taking place.

We have a daily 9am meeting for the team to catch-up, discuss the plan for the day ahead, and just keep in touch. We also have a WhatsApp group for social chit-chat, or pictures of pets, babies…..and what we’re having for tea!

Externally

We’ve all seen it. The generic ‘COVID-19’ email. Who knew that every company you have ever bought from (even if it was once 3 years ago), cares so much? It’s usually accompanied with a message to let you know that they are no longer operating during the lockdown period.

Of course, it’s good to let customers know if you can’t sell to them anymore to avoid any surprises – transparency is good! Because of this flood of emails, it’s also a good idea to let your audience know if you ARE still operating.

It might not seem important to do this but, because it seems like everywhere else is closing, a lot of people might not put too much thought into it and assume that your business is as well. 

Take the time to let your loyal customers, as well as any prospects, that you’re still going, whether that be at full or limited capacity. Let them know how they can contact you.

If it’s possible, offer your customers extra support – whether it’s a dedicated coronavirus helpline or a dedicated online Q&A facility. Not only will this help your customers stay up to date with your business’s functionality, it’ll save you and your team valuable time – customers can find answers to their questions regardless of availability.

Customer meetings

Zoom and Skype are popular platforms for video meetings and are particularly useful for client meetings. We think that, after this is all over, we’ll be that used to using video meetings that we’ll think twice before meeting face-to-face. At the moment, you can be excused for making mistakes with the technology, but it will soon be the standard, so take this time to learn these systems.

We’ve used Zoom for a while and it’s helped us serve clients all around the country. It’s just in lockdown that we’re using it for clients who are only half a mile away!

Show you care!

However, it’s then really important to just keep in touch. Because it may be, right now, that your business can’t do much because of the lockdown. It may be’ right now, that you just can’t make many sales because of the lockdown.

However, as well as stabilising, you do want to start building for the future. And one of the best things you can do is really work on your relationships with your current customers by talking to them.

Emails are great, but talking to them is even better.

I think, for us, one of the things we found was, in the first week or so of this crisis pre-lockdown, as the financial implications of coronavirus became clear, we were probably on the back foot a bit.

We had clients ringing us or coming in for meetings with us, starting to panic and needing our help.. What we, then, had to do was turn it around and get back onto the front foot and actually approach our clients.

So we did actually go down a list of the clients. We categorised them – As, Bs and Cs – to prioritise and make sure we rang everyone to see if they needed any help. And to show we cared.

A’s were the clients where coronavirus was blatantly going to have a financial impact on them. For example the retail, hospitality, leisure, and travel clients. And we include businesses directly servicing those industries.

Secondly, the Bs were the businesses who will be impacted, but it might be slightly more delayed.

And the Cs are the ones who probably it doesn’t impact them too much. Perhaps our clients who are employed just need a tax return.  

But then, we just worked down the list, basically getting our Client Managers to ring all of them.

I know that, in some cases, we were giving advice due to coronavirus. But the principle is the same for all businesses. Because one of the best things you can do right now is communicate with your customers and show them that you care. Build a relationship with them now. Keep in touch with them. So when you come out the other side, they remember that you cared – they remember that you helped.

And hopefully, therefore, they’ll remain your customer and buy off you in the future.

And I really do think it’s one of the most useful things you can do to stabilise your business – protecting the current customers and the current sales, will keep them customers for the future and generate sales for the future.

I hope you found that useful.

In the next episode, I’ll be talking about taking stock of your business. To make sure you don’t miss it, please subscribe to our Youtube channel.

See you soon.

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Any questions?

If you’d like a meeting or a Skype call to discuss this, please get in touch with your favourite Liverpool accountant