The unprecedented spread of COVID-19, and the action needed to stop it, is affecting the very bones of our society as we know it. Our routines, once taken for granted, are changing rapidly as we all adjust to a new reality. Digital crisis management has quickly become an issue for many organisations striving to maintain an air of normality in challenging circumstances.
We live in a digital world with more people using internet-enabled devices than ever before. It is ingrained in our lives, both professionally and personally. Those affected by COVID-19 are connecting with their loved ones using their mobile devices. Organisations that have undergone digital transformation have switched to home working. Both examples have made isolation just that little bit easier to bear. But when it comes to business, just how have organisations reacted to the almost instantaneous need to survive via digital means only?
How prepared is your organisation?
Digital transformation of businesses has been happening for a number of years. Those businesses that were ahead of the curve will survive, possibly even thrive, in this new disparate world. Forward thinking companies, who fast tracked their digital transformation strategy and had planned for such eventualities with agile business models will now be ahead of their competition. This makes digital crisis management easier for those organisations.
For those companies that may have overlooked or deprioritised developing digitally, now is the time to react. With uncertainty in the months ahead for all, companies must move quickly to ensure their workforces are able to continue in their existing roles from their new “home offices.” Tech titans Google, Microsoft, and Silicon Valley Start-ups Slack and Zoom are all offering their remote working tools for free, in the hope that once the battle against COVID-19 has been won, companies may adopt their use as a permanent feature.
Ensuring an organisation’s infrastructure is capable of handling this transition is paramount. If IT systems show signs of strain, and VPNs are unable to accommodate a full workforce, some businesses may face an uphill battle in the coming weeks. So, what steps can you take now to try and make this transition to a new reality easier?
Three key digital priorities:
1. Keep people updated
- Social Media is more important than ever. With rules and restrictions changing sometimes on an hourly basis, use your social accounts for digital crisis management. Ensure your customers can quickly find out how you are reacting to the developments, and how service may be disrupted.
- Reach out to your email database. Summarise how your organisation is reacting to COVID-19, mention any changes you’ve made to the way you work but don’t forget to include some positive news.
- Update your website news section or blog with all your announcements – this will make sure that you cover all the touchpoints your customer may search for updates.
- You could even go one step further and provide a link to your COVID-19 updates with a pop-up banner or customer header on your website homepage.
- Connect colleagues with instant messaging. Using Microsoft Teams to collaborate digitally is a great way to keep colleagues updated. The collaborative nature of the technology and in-built video options can maintain a sense of teamwork and togetherness.
2. Respond to your community
- Monitor your social channels. Posting an update on Twitter is all well and good but if a customer responds and it’s not entirely positive you could end up with a PR disaster if you aren’t around to quell the unrest quickly.
- Demonstrate your excellent customer service with real-time reactions to issues that may arise. With huge numbers looking to social media for information, if the product or service you are providing can help someone in need or help solve a problem, go the extra mile and let them know.
- Warn website visitors about the impact of the current crisis to customer support teams. If there is likely to be a lag before consumers get a response. use upfront messaging to set expectations.
3. Be agile – is it time for digital crisis management?
- Agile strategies work best in a crisis. You may have been a bricks and mortar organisation pre-COVID-19, but with increasing numbers of people avoiding the high streets due to restrictions, now is the time to take that leap into the digital world.
- Staff needs are changing rapidly as this human tragedy affects millions around the globe. Responsive and flexible working arrangements will allow staff to react to their own personal emergencies, and stay loyal to your business.
- Diversify your offering. Giving people the choice of finding your product or service on an eCommerce site may just enable you to stay afloat during these turbulent times.
- Once you have sorted your immediate digital priorities, it’s then time to think further into the future. Try running a digital marketing audit at your organisation. It’s like an MOT for your digital capabilities that will help identify what you need to do to help move forward on your digital roadmap.