The coronavirus Covid-19 outbreak has been a rapidly evolving issue for the economy, as businesses across the country have been temporarily closing. Depending on location, some CPA firms are closing offices and asking employees to work remotely.
The Covid-19 Virus is Highly Unusual – How Will You Respond?
Some firms are taking a path of “sit back and wait for it to pass” – is that you? Instead, you should consider a proactive client communications program. Your clients want to know if your office will be temporarily closed, how their matters will be handled, if there will be any delays in work, etc. Anxious clients can make the situation more difficult, so do all that you can to ease their concerns. In the process, it is important to present a consistently positive image of your firm.
Guidelines to Consider
Here are some steps that The Specialists in CPA Marketing suggest you consider (but contact us or your marketing/PR consultant for tailored advice):
- Develop a task force – Your task force should consist of trusted, high-level management with the ability and authority to make quick and effective decisions, implement them, and communicate on behalf of the firm both internally and externally. Maintain calm and collected thinking in the process.
- Identify key audiences – Determine which of your firm’s contacts need to be informed of the situation, and in what order (e.g., current clients, former clients, general public, business contacts, vendors, etc.)
- Designate a spokesperson(s) – Internally and externally, it is typically best to designate one person to address specific concerns. In cases when employees will handle initial inquiries (e.g., clients, vendors and media), they should be informed as to what details they can release. Any media calls should go to the spokesperson.
- Be proactive in client communications – Don’t wait, especially given how quickly the Covid-19 crisis is developing.
- Identify which mediums are available to communicate your message – Since people access information in different ways (email ,social media, website visit, web searches, phone calls, etc.), consider multiple methods to communicate. Use a consistent message on each.
- Clearly and simply communicate the message – Decide what your messages will be — keep these tight and consistent. FAQs are often a great way to communicate, so identify common questions and develop concise answers. Too much information can be overwhelming and actually may lead to further anxiety.
- Avoid over-promising – It’s good to be optimistic with your preventive measures to ensure business continuity and client service. Balance that with an acknowledgment that this is an evolving health and economic crisis. Consider communicating that your firm will continue to update clients about the firm’s capabilities and how you are protecting your workforce.
- Keep track of concerned client requests – If there are a large volume of inquiries, or your firm is short-staffed, it’s easy to lose track of a specific request, so develop a system to follow-up with each.
- Develop a crisis management plan – This will encompass issues beyond client relations, such as internal communication, client service team plans, travel restrictions, video conferencing, and scenario planning (e.g., what if one or more of your partners or employees or clients tests positive?).
Questions? This is such a challenging environment and we want to help our clients as much as possible. Feel free to contact The Specialists in CPA Marketing to help your firm.