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Disaster Preparedness

How to Talk to Customers in Times of Crisis

When an unprecedented situation occurs that affects your business, it’s important to know how to communicate with your customers. Addressing a crisis can be tricky, but knowing the right tone to strike, the necessary messages to send, and the best tools to use can make this job a lot easier. Here are a few guidelines to follow, whether you’re dealing with a pandemic, a natural disaster, or any crisis in-between.

Tone

Communicating with your clients during a stressful time can be challenging for both parties, so striking the right tone is vital. Try putting yourself in your clients’ shoes and consider how you’d like to be addressed in their position. Are your clients scared? Try to reassure them. Are they angry? Try to be understanding and proactive at addressing the problem.

Your business should sound:

  • Empathetic
  • Calm
  • Knowledgeable
  • Factual
  • Straightforward
  • Informative
  • Positive
  • Transparent

Your business should NOT sound:

  • Angry
  • Excited
  • Overly upbeat
  • Crass
  • Uncaring
  • Dishonest
  • Misinformed

Messaging

Knowing what to say to your customer is just as important as knowing how to say it. Chances are, in the midst of a crisis, your customers will have several questions about your business’ response to what’s going on. Here are a few things you may want to communicate with your customers.

What to say:

  • Acknowledge the situation if appropriate – let clients know that you’re aware of what’s going on.
  • If you’re taking any steps to help fix the problem, share what those steps are.
  • Inform your audience of any business adjustments like new hours, a change in operations, new locations, etc.
  • Take the time to answer any commonly asked questions.
  • Make sure your contact information is readily available in several spots on your website and social media pages.
  • Thank customers for their support during the crisis.

What NOT to say:

  • Don’t share misinformation.
  • Stay away from messaging that is confusing or unrelated to the crisis.
  • Don’t guess or speculate – it’s ok not to know everything right off the bat.

Tip: If you need more help crafting your crisis messaging strategy, take a look at our guide on how to create a crisis communications plan, with insights from HomeAdvisor VP of Corporate Communications, Mallory Micetich.

Tools

When disaster strikes, your clients will be looking to you for answers. Make sure that information is readily available and easy to find by utilizing all the tools at your disposal. These channels can help you communicate with your clients quickly.

  • Emails
  • Text messages
  • Social media posts
  • Instant messages
  • Website updates
  • HomeAdvisor profile updates
  • Phone calls

Tip: There’s no need to reinvent the wheel – use your existing communications channels to get in touch with customers during a crisis. Now is not the time to worry about starting a social media account or email list if you haven’t used one in the past.


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