The effect on your customers due to business disruption can be minimised through good customer communication. In simple terms this means being transparent about any issues faced, why, what you are doing to help and when they might see a solution. The scenarios for customer disruption could be varied, so here are a few possibilities.
A large number of New Zealand businesses have call centres that don’t necessarily have an easy ability to be moved to a remote (or 3rd party) operation in the event of a crisis.
In addition, phone companies are going to be under immense pressure to provide their business customers with the systems and support required – likely with a skeleton staff of their own.
A back up plan for shifting customer contact resource should be in place, for example, if calling is not an option, how will your customers communicate with you instead and vice versa?
This leads to your website and social media channels – Here you can clearly outline how customers can interact with you, and with a realistic overview of the service provision they can expect.
How up to date is your customer database and how well are you placed to use email as your primary form of communication?
If 75% of your staff were working from home come Monday, what would this mean for your ability to engage with your customer base (bearing in mind that some businesses will experience increased demand during a crisis and some significantly decreased demand)?
Are they set up with access to core systems (business files, CRM and/or other customer databases) as well as phones to enable them to continue performing some or all of the functions of their role?
Remember that all crises come to an end, so we need to ensure that when it does, we are quick to move back to engaging with customers in a way that continues to drive revenue.
Experience from previous crises shows that those organisations that have a clear plan in place for entering AND exiting a crisis, and therefore responds quickest, actually win more business and outperform their competitors.