How to Navigate a Crisis: Real Lessons from Real Businesses

We outlined the lessons we're learning from real businesses adapting in a time of crisis.

As I sit here in my makeshift home office trying to navigate a healthy balance between work, keeping up with the news, and figuring out which song I like washing my hands to best, I can’t help but think what an interesting opportunity there is to see how companies respond to crises in real-time.

We can take what we’re seeing from how real companies are reacting in a time that feels uncertain, and frankly, a bit scary, and maybe learn a thing or two to help us in the future.

Retailers: Leading the Way with Closures & Authentic Communication

Glossier’s CEO, Emily Weiss, put out a statement announcing that they were closing their retail and pop-up locations for the popular makeup and skincare brand for the next two weeks. She provided some reasons behind their decision, including the high volume of traffic they get from visitors from all over the world to their New York location. But then she took it a step further and mentioned that retail employees will still be paid for their scheduled shifts.

Now, obviously not every business, especially a smaller local business, has the resources to keep paying their employees when they’re losing profits. We understand that. But the fact that Glossier is taking a stand not only as one of the first retailers to close, but to guarantee pay for their employees, is a big statement. And many more retailers followed suit this weekend, including Anthropologie, Warby Parker, and more.

Many of these retailers are also offering incentives for consumers to shop online – including free shipping and discounts. 

Auto Dealers: Getting Cars to the People Without Showrooms 

Right now, people aren’t rushing out to buy cars. They don’t want to walk around a showroom while they’re trying to distance themselves from those outside of their immediate families. So, what are auto dealers to do? 

Many dealerships are introducing delivery options for their customers so they don’t have to visit the showroom. This includes picking up and servicing cars and then delivering them back to their homes. This limits the interaction they may have and doesn’t create any disruption in their service. 

Real Estate: Showing Homes Virtually 

People still need a place to live, no matter what’s going on in the world. So, real estate companies are looking for new ways they can show their clients homes without taking them there personally.  

This has led many real estate agents to launch virtual tours. They either film a walk-thru to share with their clients, have the existing homeowner create one, or video call the client for a live walk-thru. All these options keep new visitors from coming in and out of someone’s home but still provide a vital service to the agent’s clients. 

Gyms: Taking Fitness Online 

With the majority of gyms now closing, people still want (and need!) to get their exercise in. Many gyms and fitness providers are taking their classes online. Yoga studios are live-streaming classes, Beachbody is offering two free weeks of classes, and personal trainers are reaching out to schedule one-on-one sessions over the phone.  

Healthcare: Turning to Telehealth 

Many healthcare providers are urging people to stay home unless it’s absolutely necessary to visit the doctor in order to keep the risk of infection low. And in a season that’s busy beyond COVID-19, with the flu and allergy season starting up, this can present some challenges. 

So, many healthcare providers are turning largely to telehealth solutions so they can keep in contact with their patients without needing to actually be in physical contact with them.  

What You Can Learn 

There might be services that you’re offering in person that you can offer in different ways. Think about what your customers like best about your business and determine whether or not there are other ways you can offer that to them. This could be virtually, like gyms and real estate agents, or by adding delivery services like auto dealers.  

Also, be conscious of how you’re communicating with your audience. So many businesses are doing a great job at connecting authentically and transparently right now. You’ve probably received a lot of emails from businesses you frequent lately, and I’m sure you’ve noticed the tone and way they’re sharing information. It’s great to see so many businesses step up to serve their customers, their employees, and their communities. 

What’s amazing about these examples is that these businesses have made these changes this week. In many cases, their business models have changed, and they’re looking for new and innovative ways to keep their business moving while we all navigate uncertainty. We know that’s something that a lot of businesses are facing right now.  

We know that things are looking a little different right now. We’re going to use this opportunity to see what we can learn from companies and businesses that are doing a great job at building people up, providing relevant and useful information, and sharing posts that bring a little smile to our faces.

Stephanie Heitman

Stephanie is the Sr. Marketing Manager for USA TODAY NETWORK | LOCALiQ. She has experience in digital marketing, social media management, and content creation for SMBs. Stephanie specializes in helping businesses improve their online reputation and appreciate the impact social media and digital marketing can have on their brand. When she isn't researching the latest online marketing tips and trends, she enjoys watching reality TV with her husband and her dogs.

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