When it comes to emergency situations, it’s advisable to create protocols to help your company achieve the best possible outcome.
This especially rings true when circumstances impact our businesses but are beyond our control.
A perfect example of this scenario is happening right now across the world.
Everyone is bracing for the economic hardships caused by COVID-19, however, there are some immediate actions you can take, right now, to help reduce the impact.
Protecting Your Employees
The first thing to do in an emergency situation is to protect your employees. There are many ways you can do this and we’ve highlighted a few of them below:
1. Develop Communication Lines and Protocol
Establishing a protocol for the avenues of communication with your employees will help keep your business running as smoothly as possible.
Decide ahead of time which platforms you will use for each communication scenario.
- If you have an online community forum, any changes to the business should be made available on this platform.
- Email is a line of communication that everyone uses. When it comes to any changes or updates, a mass email should be sent out to your employees, clients, and partners.
- If you have a website, provide updates to your homepage.
2. Provide Alternatives To Company Travel
Fortunately, technology has come a long way!
Because of this, there are ways to recreate and/or substitute face-to-face interaction with virtual experiences instead.
Thanks to Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and other platforms, conducting virtual conferences, webinars, meetings, and sales calls is easy to arrange and deploy.
3. Create Work From Home Opportunities
If you’ve ever considered a remote office, now is the time. Non-essential services have now been forced to shut down unless they are able to operate remotely.
Providing your staff with the opportunity to work from the safety and comfort of their homes enables your business to still operate throughout the COVID-19 situation while keeping your employees protected in the process.
The benefits of working from home have become more-and-more clear. From lower operating costs to having more accessible, flexible, and productive employees, the reasons behind making the switch are a great fit for many growing businesses.
A remote office is easy to set up and deploy if you already have the right software in place and can provide your employees with the tools they need to work from home effectively (for example a fast, reliable computer and internet to work with.)
4. Establish Sick Policies and Protocol
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends self-isolation for 14 days should there be any signs or symptoms of COVID-19.
This should be stressed to your employees and they should be discouraged from attending the workplace (where applicable) if they are feeling sick.
For those working remotely who feel symptoms, encourage rest. It is helpful to cross-train staff so the workload can be spread out and shared until they get back. This helps minimize any negative impact on your business.
Any sick policies should be updated in your company manual, on your website, and community board to include COVID-19.
Protecting Your Customers
Now that we’ve covered how you can protect your employees, let’s go over the measures you can take to protect your customers.
1. Improved Communication and Messaging
Your clients should be made aware of any changes to your business operations.
For many companies that still require customers to visit their offices and/or storefronts, curbside pickup is a good substitution.
Keep everyone informed if there has been a change to shipping dates, availability of items, etc. (which we highlight next).
It’s best to communicate any changes to clients as soon as possible. Posting notices on your website, your social media pages, through emails, and by hanging signs on your entry doors are simple but effective methods.
2. Shipping Changes and/or Delays
Of course, as changes have been made across the board during this pandemic, logistics and transportation have been directly impacted.
This can result in changes to shipping dates, availability of products, and limited and/or restricted methods of transportation.
This is something that can affect all levels of your business operations so delays should be communicated to your staff and customers immediately to avoid frustration and disruption with your clients.
Sourcing locally can greatly improve your chances of receiving shipments on time, in stock, and at a better price than importing.
3. Virtual Supply vs Demand Changes
Take a deep breath! With everyone going digital overnight, you can expect to see disruption on your website, an influx in phone calls, emails, and social media messages, as well as more conference calling and video meeting requests.
It’s normal at this time for your website to have some hiccups or your phone lines to be bogged down and you might even experience internet disruptions as everyone becomes dependent on online resources, software platforms, and host providers. Internet providers and cloud storage providers can become inundated as well.
Be sure your team is aware of established backup plans.
When calls start to pour in – AI Chatbots can help.
Chatbots have been around for some time now but have really evolved over the recent years.
They are now capable of much more than just answering FAQ’s.
Chatbots can manage some of the workloads of your staff, alleviating their stress and allowing them to focus on the work that chatbots can’t do.
Because of this, many businesses are now taking advantage of having a chatbot put in place to help lessen the influx of inquiries and better manage their business during this crisis.
(We have a great article about how chatbots can be used during emergency situations. If you can spare 3-minutes it’s well worth the read. Here is the link).
Worldwide, business communities are experiencing setbacks and challenges due to COVID-19.
Although there are many unknown variables, our world leaders have been consistent in the messaging; this situation will not improve overnight, and this will be the new normal for a while. The decisions we make now as businesses, as employees and as citizens in general, will help either flatten or inflate the curve and ultimately decide the fate of our economy and our population.
We hope everyone stays safe during this time and be vigilant, if we all do our part, we can all dramatically improve our chances of getting through this pandemic with minimal damage.