It’s hard to believe how serious the COVID-19 situation has become for South Africans. A month ago, it was some frightening thing wreaking havoc in countries far away. And here we are. Since the first case of coronavirus was confirmed on 5 March, the number of infections has risen dramatically, forcing schools, universities, and some businesses to shut down. As panic grows, more and more people are avoiding leaving the house even to buy food or essentials.    

There’s a lot of understandable concern about how social distancing and self-isolation will impact SA retailers’ ability to make sales. Global brands such as Apple, Starbucks, Nike, and Adidas have already been hit by the outbreak. Many have responded by shutting down their physical locations.   

Many businesses have executed their own communication strategies to inform customers how they plan to deal with the pandemic as well as sharing information on how customers can protect themselves. If you haven’t already done so, now is the time to think about how you should keep your customers updated in these challenging times. Ideally, your crisis communication plan should include the following: 

  • Information on any suspected or confirmed cases on your premises. Don’t reveal the identities of any employees
  • The preventative measures you plan to put in place, whether or not you’ve been directly affected. This should include details on how you plan to improve sanitation and serve customers should you decide to shut down temporarily 
  • Information on how you are going to continue monitoring the situation 
  • Clear, compassionate, and understandable messages
  • A link to a dedicated web page where clients can find the latest information about your response 
  • Links to external resources like the government’s health website and World Health Organization website

Your communication strategy should use all channels available. Below are some examples of platforms used by big brands to get their messages across. 

Landing page banners

 

 

Website and app pop-up messages

 

 

Blog posts

 

Facebook posts

Dedicated pages e.g. FAQs

 

Email newsletter

In-store signage

 

By creating a response plan and continuously monitoring the situation, you are reassuring customers that you are prioritising their safety, and keeping their best interests at heart.At TMI, we’re doing our small part to help lower the risk of infections and avoid crowded spaces, for the foreseeable future. We’ve encouraged social distancing by moving our teams to a work-from-home setting, however there should be minimal disruption to employees and clients in terms of communication and work delivery.