woman on phone and computer in restaurant
From communicating openly to revising your marketing strategy, there are many things you can do to keep providing great customer service in times of crisis. — Getty Images/andresr

Over the past month, small businesses have been grappling with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. During challenging situations, it’s important to be transparent and proactively communicate with your customers. Listed below are six ways you can provide great customer service during a crisis.

Have a plan and stay calm

Right from the beginning, it’s essential to establish a plan and stay calm. When you reach out to your customers, you want to sound confident and knowledgeable. Your customers need to hear that you have a handle on the situation and that your business is available to help them.

Avoid making hasty, impulsive decisions during this time. Make sure you consider all your options and be open to changing the plan as the situation evolves. You don’t want to lock yourself into a stance that later becomes irrelevant.

Be proactive about communicating with customers

When there’s a crisis, your customers need to hear from you. So you should reach out to them as soon as possible and have a schedule for following up.

When you contact your customers, look for ways to be empathetic and acknowledge how the situation is impacting them and their families. But make sure the information you’re communicating is accurate and relevant.

Don’t speculate about the facts and don’t set unrealistic expectations that your business won’t be able to meet. This will only hurt your business’s credibility in the long run.

[Read more: 15 Examples of How Companies Are Communicating with Customers About Coronavirus]

Want to learn more about how to re-connect with customers post-pandemic? Watch this episode of our CO— Blueprint series on re-engaging with your customers.

Your current customers are your best bet for staying profitable in the months to come.

Coronavirus Guide for Small Businesses

CO— is working to bring you the best resources and information to help you navigate this challenging time. Read on for our complete coronavirus coverage.

Have a central point of communication

Don’t make your customers search for the information they need. Have a central reference point where they can find the answers they need. You can direct customers to a public page on your website where they can find all the information they need.

On this page, you can include the most current information you have about the situation. You can also address some of the most commonly asked questions about how your business is handling the situation.

It’s also a good idea to regularly share updates on any social media platforms where your customers are active.

Revise your current marketing strategy

Your business likely already had a marketing plan in place for the coming months. But in the midst of a crisis, that plan is no longer relevant.

Review all of your advertising, email marketing, social media posts, and any other planned marketing efforts. If you don’t do this, you risk sharing something that your customers might view as insensitive or inappropriate.

For instance, mass emailing your customers and encouraging them to try a new product or feature may not be well-received by some customers.

Continue to focus on the customers you already have

When problems occur, many businesses shift their focus to how they’ll find new business. And while new business is always helpful, don’t lose sight of the customers you already have.

Your current customers are your best bet for staying profitable in the months to come. Now is the time to focus on delivering excellent service and providing for your existing customers.

[Read more: How Small Businesses Are Supporting Coronavirus Efforts]

Share what your business is doing to help

During stressful situations, your customers want to be inspired and feel like things are improving. So share that your business cares about what’s going on, and show your customers what you’re doing to help improve the situation.

For instance, Ford announced that it plans to make 50,000 ventilators within 100 days to aid efforts in fighting the coronavirus. CVS and Walgreens waived prescription delivery fees to its pharmacy customers. So do all you can to help, and invite your customers to contribute as well.

Applications are open for the CO—100! Now is your chance to join an exclusive group of outstanding small businesses. Share your story with us — apply today.

CO—is committed to helping you start, run and grow your small business. Learn more about the benefits of small business membership in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, here.