Last Updated: March 25, 2020
As concerns about COVID-19 continue to spread, some businesses are unsure how to communicate with their clients. How should they address the situation? How much communication is too much?
Meanwhile, many home service businesses have experienced increased cancellations and concerns, making the need for clear, upfront communication more urgent than ever.
We spoke with Royce Ard, owner of My Amazing Maid, a residential cleaning business. Below, he shares his customer communication strategy, which tools he’s using, and the results he’s seen.
For additional resources and support, we invite you to join the Jobber Entrepreneurship Group, where service business owners are sharing their strategies and processes during COVID-19.
“Now is the time to over-communicate with your clients and staff. So many people are feeling scared and they are looking for information. In the absence of information, rumor and worry will fill the void. We have now done two emails with videos, and today we sent a text to all of our customers to make sure they have seen the emails. We’ve had our share of cancellations but overall the responses we have received from our customers has been extremely positive.”
– Royce Ard, My Amazing Maid
5 crucial tips for communicating with customers during COVID-19
Disclaimer: Before sending any communications, we urge you to check with your local governments and health authorities to ensure that you are following the latest guidelines to protect your customers, employees, and your community.
1. Get in front of the situation
If you haven’t done so already, email your customers to let them know what measures your business is implementing to respond to the situation, which services are still available, and how they can book appointments with you.
Remember that your customers and potential customers are likely concerned whether or not it is safe to go ahead with scheduled appointments, or to book new ones. They are looking for reassurance that you can safely serve their homes.
Don’t try to sell unrelated services, and don’t communicate in a way that creates unnecessary fear or panic.
Do indicate which health authorities and protocols you are following (for example, the CDC), and keep your emails brief, informative, and above all, positive.
Jump to: How to Write a COVID-19 Customer Communication
2. Segment your client communications
Not all information is relevant to your entire customer list. To avoid messaging fatigue and make sure the right people get the right information, segment your customers into lists.
For example, Royce creates tags for the following groups:
- Customers with recurring or upcoming scheduled appointments
- Customers who have cancelled due to COVID-19, but are open to future bookings
- Customers who have not booked a service in several months
He then creates separate email lists for each tag, so he can send timely, appropriate communications based on their needs.
3. Keep the conversation going
Avoid sending one email and going silent. “It’s a conversation, not a statement,” says Royce.
With the news changing daily, it’s likely that your response will as well. Send a customer email if:
- Your state or municipality makes changes that affect your ability to perform services
- You introduce a new service, package or policy related to COVID-19
Consider messaging on different channels to reach all of your clients, or to send different types of messages.
My Amazing Maid uses email, YouTube, SMS text messaging, Instagram, and Facebook to communicate with their customers and ensure they are fully informed.
“We just added to our text message feature that if you have been sick or are sick we are going to reschedule your appointments. We also put sick policies into play at work. If you’re sick you’re instructed to stay home, and we bought disinfectant supplies for all our service techs to sanitize equipment after each customer visit.”
-Angela Howard, Gervais Mechanical Services LLC
4. Respect your customers’ needs and adapt whenever possible
Even with the best communication plan, some customers may still decide to cancel appointments due to COVID-19. In these cases, you must respect their decision, however you can still adapt, for example:
- Give a firm appointment time so you can service their home while they are out doing groceries or at the doctor.
- Offer contactless appointments with virtual quotes and payments
- Put their services on hold rather than cancel
- Look for alternative services to offer, such as deliveries, or providing remote services via video call
Do your best to communicate case by case on a personal level. “In service businesses, we all have a personal relationship with our customers,” says Royce. “Let’s make sure that we’re keeping an open dialogue with our clients.
5. Keep your employees informed and motivated
Finally, apply all of the above steps to your employees. “They’re very scared as well. But you can help alleviate that by communicating,” says Royce.
Do daily video calls with your employees, share positive feedback from your customers, and stay positive. “We’re all in this together. The only question is, can we help each other pull through?”
“This is un-chartered territory and a lot of times you may feel like doing it by yourself. But I promise you, you’re not. That’s the beautiful thing with Facebook groups is you can find a group of people who are exactly in your same situation that are going through something that’s very similar. So lean on those groups right now.”
– Royce Ard, My Amazing Maid
How to Write a COVID-19 Customer Communication
1. Start with a service update
Start by explaining if your business is still operating and which services are available. If your business is considered an essential service, let your customers know.
2. Let customers know how you’re keeping them safe
Educate your customers on what measures your business is taking in response to COVID-19. Here are some examples you can adapt to your business’ practices:
- Our employees are working remotely and practicing physical distancing. We ask that you do not shake their hands and remain 6 ft (2 meters) apart.
- Employees have been instructed to stay home if they are exhibiting any flu-like symptoms or have had recent international travel within the last 14 days, or have had contact with someone with known or suspected COVID-19 in the last 14 days. Immunocompromised employees are also asked to stay home.
- We are moving to contactless quotes, invoices, and payments to avoid physical contact.
- Our employees will perform proper hand hygiene upon entering and leaving your home.
- Our employees will wear protective clothing, including gloves, masks, and shoe covers, upon entering your home.
- All offices and trucks have been stocked with sanitation tools and are routinely sanitized throughout the day.
- We are screening our customers for any symptoms and ask any client who feels unwell or who has returned from travel within the last 14 days to please call us and reschedule their appointment. There will be no fee for rescheduling.
4. Offer other ways to help
Let your customers know if you are offering any new or alternative services they may need, such as grocery delivery, home sanitization, equipment sanitization, or virtual service calls.
5. Keep the (digital) dialogue open
Encourage customers to reach you digitally (via email, text, or Facebook message) if they have any concerns. Reassure them that you can still perform your services safely and are committed to ensuring the safety, sanitation, and comfort of their home.
Remember that customer communications regarding COVID-19 are part of an ongoing, personal dialogue between you and your customers.
Be honest, stick to what you know, and keep that dialogue open.
“Be the voice of reason, the voice of authority. Customers are scared because they are reading all this conflicting [news] in the media. Reassure them, tell them what you are doing that’s on top of the great service they already know and love.”
– Tania Harvey, Houseworks Home Services
COVID-19 emails, examples, and templates
The following are communications sent by real service business owners, shared with their permission.
As each service business is unique, please these as references, and adapt them to your business’ needs and activities.
- COVID-19 email for cleaning businesses by My Amazing Maid
- YouTube video addressing customers, by My Amazing Maid
- COVID-19 instagram post by MIL-SPEC Landscaping
View this post on Instagram
Just a friendly reminder that we are still open for business, as we have had several people call to ask. We are taking measures to do our part to help in the prevention of the spread of COVID-19 virus. Please quickly read our policies and efforts during this time. . If you have any questions, concerns, or even recommendations, feel free to give us a call at 604.398.4040. . #ReviveWashing #Covid_19 #SmallBusiness #WindowCleaning
How to use Mailchimp to send mass customer emails
Mailchimp is an easy to use email service that allows you to send custom, branded emails directly to your client list. Mailchimp offers free and paid plans.
Jobber’s integration with Mailchimp allows you to automatically sync your entire client list, so you can start sending emails without tedious spreadsheets or uploads.
If you are not a Jobber user or do not have the Mailchimp integration, you can manually import your client list into Mailchimp to take advantage of simple, mass emails.
If you are a Jobber customer and have any questions about your account or need help making any adjustments, our Customer Success Team is available to help. Please contact us via chat (you must be logged into your account) or by calling 1-888-721-1115.
Community is Everything
At Jobber, we are committed to helping home service business owners stay informed throughout the crisis. We will continue to provide resources and information to help your communities, customers, and employees.
For additional resources and support, we invite you to join the Jobber Entrepreneurship Group, where service business owners are sharing how they’re communicating with customers and adjusting their processes. For those industries not directly affected, there is advice around planning ahead and keeping customers informed.