Communication is the be-all and end-all
Speech is silver, silence is gold. This well-known proverb is certainly justified in many situations, but – as always – exceptions are the rule. Because this so much touted silence can also quickly become fatal. And especially in already difficult times when uncertainty prevails, the key to crisis management is clearly communication: it does provide information, prevents unnecessary rumors and associated fears and promotes exchange as a basis for future development. Why companies in particular should consider this.
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No communication? No corporate success!
For companies in particular, communication and, in particular, lack of it can be a challenge. Regardless of whether you are in contact with employees or customers: the latest events in the course of the Corona crisis have shown how important communication is within the company, but also externally – especially when unforeseen events interfere with existing processes. Employees who are initially sent to the home office for an indefinite period of time want to know how the company will continue, while the management is usually still looking for the right way.
Customers are also concerned about the impending conclusion of a cooperation and the implementation of long-planned campaigns. No or insufficient information often provides the breeding ground for false information. Whether it’s a pandemic, product defects or uncovered blunders: If you want to maintain and develop relationships with employees and customers in times of crisis, you can’t avoid communication. And thus not only creates trust, but also a solid basis for the company’s success. Because in addition to improved cooperation and increased productivity, the company’s image is also protected. For their further development, companies can benefit from the experience of emerging stronger from a crisis.
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4 tips that companies can use to communicate more successfully
Advice for better communication is a dime a dozen. Nevertheless, many companies usually only take these to heart for a short time before they revert to old patterns. It is worth breaking through old communication structures even during a crisis. Because with the right tricks, companies improve their communication with customers and employees in the long term:
# 1 Don’t panic
Rule number one and therefore the most important approach when it comes to dealing with crises: Don’t panic! While some companies, completely taken by surprise by the onset of the crisis, first withdraw and avoid communication entirely, others are already throwing around in blind actionism with statements that they would have preferred to leave a few days, if not just a few hours later, looking back . It is obvious that neither can be the right way. Crises occur unexpectedly, whether private or professional, and often turn everything upside down – and who can come up with the big solution straight away in such a situation? However, sitting out for a long time does not lead to success.
The means of choice? The Golden middle. Those responsible get their employees and customers on board at an early stage and, at best, proactively with the necessary and relevant information. Rash statements should not be made, nor should information be scattered that could change again too quickly. What helps instead? Communicate the next steps as soon as possible. The comprehensive plan does not always have to be presented immediately. Outlining the next steps on the way to solving the problem is enough not to leave employees and customers in the dark and to convey to them that the situation will be accepted. It is important to find the optimal balance between quick reactions and the right amount of information.
# 2 Active crisis management
The tactic of not panicking does not mean not being aware of the crisis. Because if you do not recognize the crisis itself, you cannot react to it. Blocking undesirable events has never been a successful strategy. The crisis is here, so action must be taken. This works best with active crisis management, with which companies are prepared in advance for the worst-case scenario. Especially with regard to communication: with the help of clearly defined crisis communication.
The keyword is here planning ahead. While it is often difficult to keep a cool head in an emergency situation, creating concepts in advance is far more effective. The preparation for communicative crisis management enables potential negative scenarios to be thought through, including the appropriate reactions:
- Who is the company’s spokesperson? The management should definitely play a key role here, as they are the figureheads of the company.
- How is the communication structured in terms of content and argumentation? The establishment of clear rules for content and argumentation are just as important as the uniform appearance with the coordinated communication content in the event of a crisis. Contradicting statements from different or in the worst case from a single company spokesperson are absolute No-go.
# 3 Stay on track, both internally and externally
A particularly important part of crisis communication is the definition of the addressees. While it is clear to many companies that they have to quickly eliminate problems that arise in public in order not to leave customers or (potential) investors – perhaps even the media – in the dark for too long, employee communication is often neglected even in the normal state. Far too often it is assumed that the employees can at least find out what is currently important via the company’s own radio, understand delays due to ongoing projects or ask questions if anything is unclear. But it is also a fact that employees assume that the management team will come up with important information when it is necessary. So it is all the more clear that this is especially true in critical times.
Therefore, important updates should be communicated promptly and proactively both externally and internally. Because for the long-term success of the company, a close and trusting relationship with one’s own team is essential. Trust and solidarity within the company are fundamental elements in overcoming a crisis together.
# 4 Don’t wait for crises
Communication becomes more important in times of crisis, but companies shouldn’t wait for the bad times to improve their communication quality. In good times this seems less necessary, but it isn’t. Even without a crisis, employees and customers should be informed about current developments and important innovations. Because with communication, crises can not only be survived, but also prevented. Providing your company with clear communication structures – whether in a crisis or not – builds trust, closes communication gaps, ensures an increased level of productivity and thus creates the basis for successful cooperation.
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