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Communicating During a Pandemic

Originally published: 04.01.20 by Pete Grasso

As the coronavirus quickly became a pandemic, affecting all of us in some way, the amount of information also quickly became overwhelming. Governors around the country had to make some tough calls and everyone has had to adjust to the “new normal” for an undetermined period of time.

Communication comes from seemingly everyone. I know my inbox received an onslaught from any company to whom I’ve ever given my email address, informing me of the precautions they’re taking amidst the COVID-19 outbreak. It’s a must-do for companies during a time like this.

Michael Rosenberg, president of Rosenberg Indoor Comfort in San Antonio, is using the email addresses they’ve collected from customers.

He says they’ve sent out three emails: one educating them about indoor air quality, one informing them about the safeguards the company is implementing to protect against the virus, and another to remind clients that HVACR is an essential business and that they’re open.

The world is in crisis management mode and people need to hear from someone they can trust … and right now, that’s you.

Ronn Torossian, a crisis management expert with more than 20 years of experience working with national and international brands, has some thoughts regarding what businesses are going through today.

“It goes without saying that the human impact and health concerns of the outbreak are the biggest priority,” he says. “But as the uncertainty surrounding this pandemic continues, the way brands approach this crisis is top of mind for many CEOs.”

The sheer amount of information — and misinformation — available every day has been fueling panic and distress for many.

“Fear and uncertainty breeds mass hysteria” Torossian says. “Right now, people need a voice of reason, and brands and their leaders have an opportunity to be that voice. First and foremost, communication is key. Now is not the time to stay silent with employees, customers, stakeholders, etc.”

Regular communication alleviates concerns and provides reassurance.

Customers who visit Goettl Air Conditioning & Plumbing’s website immediately see messaging — and a video — explaining safety measures being taken.

“We explain our safety measures whenever a call is booked,” says Ken Goodrich, CEO of Goettl. “And we ask if anyone in the home is sick with every call that is dispatched.”

Goodrich says they also track customer responses, concerns and cancellations daily, and compile a report. In addition, Goettl holds meetings every morning with senior leadership to review Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) requirements and recommendations, implementation strategy and employee concerns.

While putting together the 20 Questions interview for this issue, I visited Rob Minnick’s company website and was immediately greeted with the following pop-up message:

We Have You Covered!

At Minnick’s, the safety and wellbeing of our team and our customers is of the utmost importance. For this reason, we have taken the following steps:

Our technicians can enter your home through a separate entrance that is used less frequently. Technicians will refrain from handshaking and remain six feet from all persons at the work location. Work sites will be cleaned both before and after completing work.

We are developing a new system for forms and information to be completed on your personal device.

Enhanced cleaning procedures have been implemented including sanitation stations and the distribution of cleaning supplies so that our technicians, the equipment they use, their vehicles, and our office can be cleaned frequently.

We look forward to talking with you,

The Minnick’s Team

Brian Stack, president of Stack Heating Cooling & Electric in Avon, Ohio, says they have a company meeting every day with technicians about sanitation procedures.

“We’re letting our customers know what precautions we’re taking as a company, and also asking customers if anyone is or has been sick in the home,” Stack says.

More than ever, during uncertain times it’s important to communicate openly and honestly with your customers. Your business is essential. This industry is essential. Be sure your customers and community know what precautions you’re taking to ensure both your safety and theirs.

 


About Pete Grasso

Pete is the former editor of HVACR Business magazine. He has spent his career working in and with trade media, both as a public relations practitioner and as an editor. He gained a great deal of expertise in the B2B arena, within large and medium sized advertising agencies. Be sure to follow Pete on Twitter and connect with him on LinkedIn!

 


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