If you’re a self-employed health professional or a consultant working in private practice, you will be talking to your clientele about how you’ll operate in the future and how you’ll keep them informed. It will be a crucial time for you both.
You may be able to offer remote options, emergency support, or find yourself postponing your usual services, or providing them in a different manner. No matter what, you will need to position your business in the best way possible to ensure that you can continue to offer the care and support that they have come to trust and rely on.
Now is the perfect time to reflect on how you communicate about your business.
Here are some easy ways you can help keep your clientele fully informed, so they know that you’ll be around for the long term. None of this is rocket science, but it is important, especially in this evolving environment. The key is to choose two or three activities that work for you and are sustainable. Then decide when, where, why and how you will implement them.
Make sure your website is up-to-date about how you will operate and how people can contact you. It may seem like a no brainer, but it’s actually easy to overlook. If your website has a ‘Blog’ or ‘News’ section, it’s important to continue using it to update your clients with both operational matters and information that’s relevant to them. Then you can feed it through your social channels and let people know you’re still around.
If you don’t have a website, now is the perfect time to establish one. You will need somewhere to point new and existing clientele to. It will serve as a platform to help build your reputation. As an added bonus, you’ll be able to launch something new to the people who already know you. Your website can be as simple as you like from, who you are, what you do and how to reach you; or include online booking and payment systems.
Do you need to launch review, or expand your social channels? Now, more than ever is the time to do so. Ask your clientele where they spend their time online and develop a plan that suits and defines your goals, set the scene for the themes or topics you want to talk about, what you aim to achieve and how frequently you will engage.
Build an online community and invite your clients in - it could be as simple as a private Facebook group. Remember, you’ll need to engage regularly and be clear about the purpose so it doesn’t turn into a free-for-all unless that’s what you want. Set some guidelines and expectations from the start. Why not host some group chats or webinars on topics of interest?
Telephone and video-calling
Where before you may have made a phone call, consider now a face-to-face chat or SMS to check in with clientele who may be more vulnerable than others, have limited support or are not online. The old-fashioned landline still exists for people who don’t have a mobile device or find accessing or using a digital device challenging.
Newsletters, cards, notes
How will you communicate with people who cannot access or use a digital device so that they feel supported and connected? It could be a phone call, a printed newsletter, card or note delivered to their physical mailbox. Now, some people are at their most vulnerable. Work out what works best for you and your clients to stay as connected.
Keep the communication up through e-newsletters and revisit the frequency in which you send them and the information they contain. Or, if it’s not something you’ve done before, consider the multitude of free platforms available (such as Mailchimp) that you can start to use. If you’re in a position to offer online consultations or emergency support, make sure you let people know every time. Repetition is key. Share information, stories, triumphs, and challenges through the distribution of your ongoing editions.
In the future, when social distancing measures subside, what else can you do to connect? You could consider offering a free information session or a series of sessions or workshops where people have the opportunity to meet face-to-face. Start discussing this now with people you could collaborate with and develop the content of these sessions so when the time is right, you’ll be ready to book a space and start promoting it right away.
There’s no doubt everyone is making the most of the online world now, and who knows how it will change the way we work and engage with each other in the future. For people who aren’t online how will you communicate with them so they feel supported and connected? Remember you don’t need to do it all. Choose one or two activities you can sustain and that will really work for you.