Here are seven steps to help you communicate the impact of a situation and next steps to your customers.

1. Show that you care

People seek connection during times of uncertainty. Companies in our communities play a role in this. Consider a message to customers to show you’re aware of the issue and offer helpful resources. Social media, email or your online community are particularly useful for a brief and immediate message.

2. Communicate proactively

Your customers count on you during a crisis even more than usual. Proactively announce changes or impacts to your business. Do not make customers hunt for the information they need – bring it to them. Proactive communication will free up staff to focus on tasks other than answering the same customer questions over and over again.

3. Select the right channels

Create communication that is appropriate within a variety of channels, including email, text, push notifications, social, chatbot introductions, homepage headers, and dedicated web landing pages. Establish a parallel approach designed to inform customers and employees in equal measure as appropriate.

4. Empathise and go the extra mile 

Show your humanity with an authentic, sensitive response that shows you understand your customers’ changed needs.

5. Inspire your audience

In times of need, those who are not affected are often in a position to assist others. You can be a catalyst by allowing corporate citizenship to shine. Do all you can to help, such as donating good or services, assisting with collection coordination, letting people know you care.

6. Audit your content queue

Review your entire messaging stream including social media, promotional and transactional emails, push notifications, and text to identify communications that need to pause or shift. Otherwise, there is a risk of damaging your brand if a poorly timed message is perceived as insensitive, incorrect or seeking to capitalise on a tragedy.

7. Coordinate and plan together

Planning communications must be a company-wide effort. Develop a cross-functional ‘Go Team’ with staff from every department to coordinate teams and efforts. Establish a crisis strategy and craft templates for communications. And if there’s time, do a practice run to make sure your plans and strategies are sound.