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Getting back to full operational capacity starts with people, if you have all your equipment lined up but no-one to make your products or stock on the shelves but no clients coming in, making progress is going to be near impossible. We need to take the time to engage people and the best way to do this is by making sure we are communicating with the right people in the right way.

How am I communicating with my team and what am I telling them?

Communicating with our team can be difficult at the best of times, often the same message gets interpreted differently by each person. You have probably noticed in the past that different people on your team needs to be communicated to in a different way so delivering the same message in multiple ways can help everyone stay on the same page. A useful method might be sending an email with a written explanation, diagrams, links etc then following up with a phone call to go over the information and check for their understanding. Remember that this may be the first time that your team have felt the pressure of a large economic change and are looking to you for information and reassurance.

When deciding what to talk to your team about it's best to start with being realistic and honest. There isn't a need to tell them that it costs $x per week in rent for your office or you make $x per product sold but make sure they understand the big picture; explain how the lockdown has impacted your customer base and in turn your business. Along with this take the opportunity to reassure your team by explaining some of the actions you are taking as a business to manage these concerns.

Following on from what may be an initial conversation covering the above points take the time to frequently update and touch base with your team. Even if you are just reaching out to let them know that you are talking to customers or to check to see if any of your team needs some support. Encouraging an open two way communication will also help your team stay engaged with the business and help them to transition to 'normal' work mode after the lockdown has ended.

How will communication help me with my customers?

Everyone is running their business in slightly different ways at the moment and if you have a large or varied customer base it can be hard to know what your clients are up to and what their needs are. This goes the same for your client base understanding your availability and how they can get in touch with you. Keeping communication open with customers is the best way to keep you front of mind and help you to potentially see other opportunities in the market that you can address.

How you manage your communication is going to be dependent largely on your customer base, breaking it down to basics there are two approaches you can take.

Direct Communication - If you have a close relationship with your customers, prefer a more intimate method of communication or have different messages to give to different clients a direct approach may be they way to go. Any type of 'push' communication would fit into here. Weekly newsletters, emails, phone calls etc. If you are taking this approach plan what you have to communicate first - is it to let them know the best way to get in touch if they need to, deals you are offering them as key clients? Make sure that these are value add conversations for both yourself and your client.

Indirect Communication - This will help you catch any clients looking for your services or reaching out to you. Think about how your customers may look for you and what immediate answers they may need. Have a look at completing small updates to things such as; your website landing page to include key information that you believe customers need to know, out of office replies, chat bots on your website and of course a review of marketing - key SEO words may have changed significantly for your field in the last month.

In the next blog we will go over how your business can use a review of resource management to help with post lockdown planning.

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