The Covid-19 lockdown is having a huge impact on people and organisations. With so many things that could be about to change, how should organisations respond to the communication challenges they face? What’s your plan for the future?
We’ve put together a free elearning course that looks at the Covid-19 communication challenges. The course describes what organisations can do for meet them.
A time of rapid change for organisations
This is a time when organisations are experiencing fundamental changes. Some will need to change their business model if the lockdown has stopped them from trading in their normal way.
We’ve seen with Zoom, for example, how an organisation can see rapid changes in their market share. So, for some organisations there’s an opportunity to stake a claim, and become the leader in a particular market sector, if they can act quickly.
Many businesses are having to change their operations so it is as efficient as possible. For others, it is a case of prioritising cash and cashflow over profits.
The impact on people
Many people have been affected by Covid-19. They can be worried about themselves, their family, friends or co-workers becoming ill, the economic impact, and how long the crisis will last.
- You will have customers who are anxious.
- People are looking for expertise. They will seek accurate, authoritative information.
- There’s likely to be an increase in demand for customer support.
- Your organisation needs to function well in what it delivers and how it supports customers.
- You also need avoid being seen as insensitive to your customers’ situation and needs.
A need to make sense of it all
You customers and staff may be audience are nervous and uncertain. Some want to understand what’s happening, so they can make sense and meaning of it all.
This means they will look for, and pay attention to, organisations that are seen to be competent and trustworthy. In this situation, people tend to look for credible, expert information.
Many customers are looking to finding the right information. Sometimes, they are faced with information overload – there’s too much information, and it’s hard to find what they want.
Scarcity is a common source of anxiety.
Scarcity can happens in many ways:
- There can be scarcity of accurate, authoritative information.
- There can be a scarcity of products and services.
- There can also be “dark patterns” on websites, where scarcity has been designed into the system in order to get people to act. For example, on travel websites, it can say “only one available”.
Unpredictability can happen with in transactions and on websites.
- Costs that appear at the end of a shopping cart.
- One web page that states an item is available, and another that states it is not.
- Opt-in checkboxes on websites where the sentences uses double negatives. (“Check this box if you do not want to sign up for this newsletter”).
Powerlessness can happen when a website can make it hard or impossible for a user to do something.
- Websites that make it very hard to deactivate an account.
Sensationalism can happen when a website makes risks appear to be bigger and more likely that they actually are.
- Web copy that makes urgency feel even more pressing.
- Content that makes risk seem more likely.
The impact on staff
Staff can be worried about the future of the organisation. For example, they will want to know if there is a credible plan for today and the future.
- You will have staff who are anxious.
- Any change is likely to result in a need for people to make sense of it all.
- If the organisation is facing a new situation, staff will need to understand the goal, the mission (why it is important), where they fit in.
Organisations may not be communicating well
Staff sometimes find themselves stuck, wasting time or making mistakes. This is often because they can’t find the right information to assist them. For example, policies and procedures should be one the first places managers and staff go to when they have any doubts about what they should do.
- People often find instructional content hard to write.
- The information can be incomplete, inaccurate, hard to find, and contradictory.
- Writing is one of those tasks that often doesn’t seem like a priority, when you’ve got so many other things to do.
Availability of staff
You may have a situation where:
- People need to take sick leave to recover from COVID-19
- People need to take sick leave to manage their mental health
- People need to take sick leave to support relatives
So there is this issue of ensuring continuity of service.
There may not be staff available to be on the support lines – you may not be able to answer all of the customer calls.
Concentration of expertise
You may also find that if you bring in staff to be on the support lines they cannot answer the questions that people have because the information isn’t written down – it’s in people’s heads, or it’s hard to find the right information.
Free elearning course: communicating and leading during the lockdown
Cherryleaf’s free online mini-training course looks at those challenges, and describes what organisations can do for meet them.
For more information, see: