While the full extent of COVID-19's global impact is yet unknown, many businesses,employees and industries are feeling the strain. We've put together some tips that will help you take some precautions and ensure the safety of your business and staff during this time.
In light of this pandemic, it's important to stay updated on health guidelines from trusted organizations like the World Health Organization or Sri Lanka GMOA or Sri Lanka Medical Association Ensure you're getting information from reliable sources to avoid spreading misinformation.
While government health officials and services work hard to keep people healthy and safe, businesses like yours need to continue serving their customers and adapting quickly to ensure survival. You also have the responsibility of being a source of learning, information and support to your audiences & client base.
Here's are some best practices you and your business can consider to keep things running smoothly. There are multiple sources and e platforms offering many similar articles and we have drawn inspiration from them as well as added our own offerings for our fellow companies here in Sri Lanka .
Keep your workplace safe
Sri Lanka is currently under indefinite curfew due to steps taken by the government to curb the spread of Covid-19. So all companies are working from home or in some cases with authorized limited passes at their offices. However, whether you are working from home or office, your work space needs to be safe. Update employees with the latest news, developments and safety regulations as well as curfew updates. Provide these in multiple languages so that it is accessible to everyone Create hygiene stations well equipped with hand sanitizer or soap. If working from home, sanitize your workstations and devices and regularly wash your hands for 20 secs with soap and water. Ensure your employees are all following your safety protocols. Encourage them to work from home if they are not feeling well or have traveled. Also look out for common symptoms of corona virus and call 117 in Sri Lanka for help or information. If you are a tourist or visitor stranded here please call 1912 for assistance.
Update your site
Keep your customers in the loop. Update your website and social media pages with any changes to your work hours, shipping delays or event/service cancellations. Add an FAQ section to your site to address customer concerns.
Communicate proactively with your customers & clients. Show them you can be trusted for support during this time. live chat with them whenever possible using an array of chat tools as simple as WhatsApp Calls, to Google Hangouts to Zoom and many more.
Update your followers on social media
Send out email campaigns letting your clients know what your new offerings are.
Write blog articles to help your audiences find information and useful resources
Upload videos or start live chats to allow your customers to connect with you.
Create a forum and actively respond to questions.
Respond quickly to refunds
Clients & customers will understandably have reason to cancel or request for refunds. Keep in mind,although refund policies maybe stringent and vary, try to empathize and work with your providers, clients and customers during this emergency. If you have to refund customers, give them a good reason to return to your business. Offer a discount for their next purchase as compensation. Moreover, show them you value their business and their patience.
Adapt payment options
Try to go contactless or 'tap to pay', bank transfers or card payments where possible to avoid handling of cash and ensure ease of payments during lock downs. Also, try to create payment plans for upcoming payments offering a benefit to the client as well as ensuring there is cash flowing into your business over a staggered period.
It maybe easier said than done, but businesses and business owner have to adapt faster than they ever have before. get onto online forums and groups to brainstorm for new ideas. Create support groups for your industry, talk to friends and family, sometimes the best ideas come from the most unexpected places.
We have seen what ignoring warning signs have led to, understanding the gravity of this pandemic and panicking are two very different things. Understanding what you are dealing with allows you to logically think and prepare for whats ahead while taking the right precautions. So listen to your employees, their concerns must be your concerns. People are concerned for their expenses, the closure of schools, job security and in Sri Lanka this has never been more apparent than now. With curfew restrictions and the lack of supplies,families are understandably worried about how to manage their resources and maybe distracted from work. To ensure that your business stays focused, help your employees stay focused. Evaluate where your company can help your employees with their concerns. Be in touch with them regularly via online platforms or video conferencing to assure them that you care about them. Share information regularly.
Lead from the front
It is important for employees and customers/clients alike to see your business set a good example. Make an example of encouraging adherence to government and hospital protocols. Openly respect and honour curfews and other regulations in place and discourage deviations from staff or clients. Now is the time for good leadership to shine through and provide an anchor , be the leader that your business needs.