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The Covid-19 Crisis: Communicating to
build confidence

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Even as corporate India faces its biggest challenge since the global financial crisis of 2008, focused updates and positive communiqués can play vital role in mobilising teams and reassuring stakeholders

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Nothing reassures like the written word. The Covid pandemic, the nationwide lockdown and the total disruption of industry has led to an air of uncertainty surrounding all stakeholders. In these circumstances, a note of comfort from the management or a clear communication on the way forward can work wonders. A timely message not only mitigates insecurities and creates a sense of belonging, but also builds confidence and mutual trust that eventually strengthens the bond between the organisations and all its stakeholders.

Be it sharing updates with customers or conveying HR decisions to employees; whether it is a note to shareholders about key developments in the company or policy advocacy with the media or government, a well-defined and sharply crafted communication strategy can strengthen bonds and pool synergies for smoother transition through the crisis period. Here’s a look at how companies used communication efficiently to build confidence in the midst of chaos.

Customer First

The onset of Covid-19 inflicted a massive hit on some businesses, causing unprecedented disruption of services and derailment of supply chains. While some service sectors like aviation and hospitality faced immediate impact by way of cancellations and piling refunds, others like telecom and banking were under pressure to continue offering their services despite the resource limitations inflicted by the pandemic.

Leading from the front, the senior management of responsive companies in these sectors were prompt in sending out communications to customers, outlining the measures that the companies adopted to fulfill customer expectations and ensure the safety and security of employees. For instance, Airtel CEO Gopal Vittal asserted that he is conscious about the responsibility on Airtel as connectivity provider to do what it takes to make sure everything works in this time of stress. Vistara CEO Leslie Thng sent an email assuring customers that their booking was safe with the airline and it could be extended without any charges. Such timely communications have not only generated customer goodwill, but also yielded business benefits such as upgraded telecom packages and reduced refund demands.

Manufacturing companies too have used communication to defuse concerns about manufacturing schedules and supply chains, while staying in touch with their customers, taking them into confidence about the existing scenario and keeping them updated about the return to normalcy. Open communication with customers during a time of crisis reflects on the ethos of the organisation, and portrays its thought leadership in these testing times.

People & Policies

An organisation’s employees are its biggest assets, and giving priority to precious human resources during tough times is what separates a good organisation from a great one. Be it communication to lift the spirits of employees working from the confines of their homes or messages of preparedness for the times ahead, clear and transparent messaging that takes employees into confidence bolsters an enterprise’s human capital.

Another area that demands utmost sensitivity is to do with the impact of Covid-19 disruption on the pay packages of individual employees, or even worse, lay-offs in the larger interest of the organisation. In a note to its employees, the management of Deloitte consultancy clearly communicated that increments will be recalibrated this year and promotions will be considered only when there is a visibility of profits in the line of business. Handling potentially distressing news with a humane approach not only softens the blow, but also keeps the line of communication open for future reconciliation after the tide has turned.

In a crisis, communication that is clear and authentic leads to greater trust and empathy amongst stakeholders. While there may be no immediate business benefit, it is vital in building up brand value and corporate reputation for the long term. After all, crises don’t last, and great companies are the ones who come out of one stronger than the rest. Get in touch to help you communicate with confidence.

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