We are well into this crisis at this stage, and I think we have all come to understand that it will last for quite a time. I have spoken elsewhere about moving forward within the next few months and how we can look at strategies to offer broader services. While I have also touched upon communications, it struck me that I haven’t discussed them in detail.
While your office may have gone dark, your communications shouldn’t. In this article, I want to first touch upon communication strategy, before detailing possible communications during this period.
Strategic communications are communications that fit within your overall business strategy. I have always said that all strategic communications should drive trust and authority for them to be effective because trust and authority are what drives success within our business.
Tactical communications are slightly different, while they fit within a wider strategic communication strategy. They are also designed to meet specific needs and changing situations. The key though, is that you should never lose sight of the fact that all communications should drive trust and authority.
So, enough with communications 101, what do we need to be communicating right now, to whom, and with what consistency? While I focus here on customer communications, don’t forget your staff.
I believe the outline list for customer communications should be the following:
- Your opening conditions at present
- Your service conditions at present
- The protective measures you are taking
- Your thoughts about the future
- Clear guidance on clean and care
- A factsheet with useful resources online for clean and care and troubleshooting
- A factsheet for valuable general support in the area for older people
- Your remote telecare situation
- Their situation about remote care (are their aids capable?)
- A weekly update on where you are with opening and services available
- A weekly update on your thoughts for the future
Let’s take a look at that list, and how you can work it, all the communications will not necessarily go in one long email. Speaking of email, maybe you won’t even use email for communications with all of your customers. Perhaps that won’t be the right channel for you to do it in.
Your initial communication which should go out to every one of your customers should cover, your opening conditions and the services you are offering at this time. You should detail the protective measures that you are taking and your thoughts in relation to changes moving forward considering the current guidance.
It should offer clear guidance on clean and care for all types of hearing aids. It should also offer a factsheet containing web links and youtube links for these type of resources. Try to include a factsheet for all relevant information for older people in your area as well, information such as:
- Local Health Board or Health Department Advice]
- Information about isolation guidance for older adults
- Information about local services and charitable services for older adults
- Information about local voluntary initiatives for older adults
- This list is not exhaustive, think up more
The communication should be human, in your words. Sometimes when we write, we withdraw into corporatese or platitudes. Now is not the time; in fact, I believe there is never a time for that practice. More on this later.
Your remote care communication is not for all customers. I am sure that you have some customers who can not access remote care or their current hearing aids aren’t suitable. Why get their hopes up with general communication? Go through your database and select the customers that can avail of the solution
Send out a communication to them detailing the solution, detailing the steps you are taking to enable the solution and finally, detailing the steps they need to allow it at their end.
Include a factsheet with relevant links from the hearing aid manufacturers including how to videos and documents.
Your Weekly Update
Your weekly update is, in essence, an update of your initial communication. You might feel that weekly is too much, well then fortnightly will do. Things change fast in the world right now, with the exception of the fact that we are all stuck at home. Include updates on everything that you can think of that makes sense to communicate.
You need to offer the information on the channels that make sense for all of your customers. So that could be email, it could be Facebook, it could be via SMS, it could be by good old fashioned mail. Whichever channel they favour, you need to use that channel.
The tone is important, and I alluded to it earlier. You are their hearing healthcare professional, and most will know you well enough by now. Speak in your voice; do not fall into corporate or brand babble. Be informative, explain everything, be hopeful.
Don’t hide facts or sugarcoat anything; these people have managed to get to their sixties, seventies and eighties. They are survivors and have lived. Don’t be afraid to inject humour if it works.
During these times, people will remember the things that brightened their life. They will remember the things and people that helped them; they will remember the people and businesses who communicated with them. They will remember that which added value. Start your communications strategy and add value.