The COVID-19 pandemic is a brand crisis moment. Forrester’s Jay McBain discusses how to handle customer perception.

Allison Francis

May 19, 2020

2 Min Read
Nine, 9

The COVID-19 pandemic is a brand crisis moment, so you must put special care into communicating with customers. How you act now will determine how customers will perceive your brand once the crisis passes.

The channel’s “brand” is benefiting as an essential service that empathizes with customers and shapes responses around their needs. The channel also is helping broader communities prepare and cope, reminding many businesses why local service and support is necessary. There is a new “channel normal,” one that is more agile, responsive and cross-functional than before in response to this fast-moving crisis.


Forrester’s Jay McBain

But there are certainly things to out for.

In a recent webinar with Channel Futures, Forrester analyst Jay McBain discussed ways to avoid being tone deaf and treat customers with empathy as MSPs look to accelerate their businesses. 

9 Communication Imperatives

  1. Dial up the empathy. Avoid the type of defensive and legal language that companies often use to mitigate risk. For example, acknowledge your customers’ concerns and let them know you will do the right thing to help them make the right decisions for themselves and their families.

  2. Don’t be tone deaf. Make sure that your communications consider the context of the crisis as well as consumer mindsets.

  3. Tone down, or cancel, advertising. Ads that encourage nonessential purchases will reflect poorly on your brand.

  4. Reassure. Tell customers how you are changing operations to improve hygiene and make your business as safe as possible.

  5. Relax requirements. This isn’t the time for rigid adherence to the requirements that protect your business. Giving refunds and waiving change fees and cancelation policies is the baseline. Identify unique actions that your brand can take to help customers in this unprecedented time.

  6. Connect employees, customers and suppliers as a community. Partners touch many stakeholders and can pull these grou—ps together into a network.

  7. Put agile processes at the center of your response. You won’t be able to set a communication strategy, then implement it and forget it.

  8. Listen and respond. Keep the long-term vision of a positive brand perception as your North Star in making difficult decisions.

  9. Coordinate across disciplines. Look at all functions that touch customers. Ensure consistency across marketing, service, support, social and more.

Listen to the full webinar with Jay here: 9 Rules For Communicating With Customers During Uncertain Times

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About the Author(s)

Allison Francis

Allison Francis is a writer, public relations and marketing communications professional with experience working with clients in industries such as business technology, telecommunications, health care, education, the trade show and meetings industry, travel/tourism, hospitality, consumer packaged goods and food/beverage. She specializes in working with B2B technology companies involved in hyperconverged infrastructure, managed IT services, business process outsourcing, cloud management and customer experience technologies. Allison holds a bachelor’s degree in public relations and marketing from Drake University. An Iowa native, she resides in Denver, Colorado.

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