Using Your Website to Keep Customers Informed About COVID? Make Sure You’re Archiving Those Communications

| July 15 2020

Businesses have had to grapple with a whole new series of challenges in 2020. Thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, some have been required to close for weeks or months at a time. Others have found ways to reinvent their business models, switching to online ordering and curbside pickup or delivery. Office workers have by and large been sent home to work, which might have been a welcome change were it not accompanied by the widespread closure of schools and daycare centers. 

Meanwhile, medical guidance has been constantly evolving as researchers and doctors have learned in real time about the disease’s transmission, symptoms, and treatment. In response, politicians and public health officials have implemented a complex web of executive orders, regulations, and recommendations to advise businesses and individuals about what they can and should do. 

During all this chaos, businesses have struggled to keep their customers up to date and informed so that they can—and will—continue to seek their services. 

 

Communicating During a Crisis

 

Many—perhaps most—businesses have probably managed some crisis communications before. Generally, these situations arise due to discrete, localized causes: perhaps a power outage or an unexpected closure due to a natural disaster like a wildfire or a hurricane. But few were prepared, prior to 2020, for a crisis that promises to extend over a period of weeks and then instead drags on for months with no end in sight. 

Yet whatever the disruption and however long it lasts, your business needs a crisis communication plan that informs and advises customer-facing staff and customers themselves about the status of your operations through your website, social media channels, and more. Your customers will not assume that no news is good news; instead, your silence may well cause customers, even formerly loyal fans, to write you off as another loss they’ve suffered. Without service updates, buyers may not realize that they can still engage your services even as the pandemic rages on. 

Rather than inundating overwhelmed and exhausted customers with intrusive emails regarding your ever-evolving status, it’s a great idea to consolidate those updates into an information hub on your organization’s website. That way, interested buyers can see that you are still open for business and can choose the best way to safely interact with you.

But with this new reliance on your website for up-to-the-minute information, there’s a new question: are you keeping track of what you said when?

 

Why You Need to Archive Online Communications

 

There are several reasons to keep an archive of your online communications with customers and prospective customers. 

  • Regulatory agency demands. In some industries, like financial services, regulatory agencies demand that businesses maintain records of all their communications with the public. Even in less regulated industries, businesses are still subject to the Federal Trade Commission’s oversight regarding truth in advertising. 

  • Proof of transparency and honesty. If a customer complains about something you’ve said or done, how will you rebut their claims? Without a record of what you’ve said over time, you may be unable to fight back against a false assertion. 

  • Internal business knowledge. To assess what your organization has done throughout the crisis—and to learn what has and hasn’t worked—your business needs records about its actions and their consequences. After all, you can’t learn from a mistake or prevent its recurrence if you don’t study it. 

But not all website archiving solutions are created equal. Here’s what you need to know about selecting the best archiving tool for your organization’s website. 

 

What to Look for in an Archiving Solution

 

There are three key elements to look for in a website archiving tool. 

  • Complete captures. You want to know that your website archives are capturing both the content of your webpages—the words, images, and other information displayed there—and their context. Often, context is portrayed through dynamic elements such as videos, GIFs, or interactive carousels or charts. For example, if you upload a video from your CEO explaining your store’s safety measures, you need to ensure that your website archives will collect that entire video—not just a still image from its launch screen. 

  • Replay capabilities. Videos aren’t the only thing you might need to replay—sometimes your customer’s entire journey to a page can be relevant to understanding your message. Don’t get stuck trying to rely on static archives that don’t permit navigation or interaction. Instead, relive your customer’s experience by using an archiving solution based on ISO 28500 WARC (Web ARChive) files that create a fully functional replica website. 

  • Minimal upkeep. Don’t spend hours creating and updating maps of your webpages. Look for technology that minimizes your upkeep time by automatically detecting and collecting new webpages, supported by a human QA team that will verify complete and accurate archives.  

Unsure what you should be archiving or whether your current method is giving you what you need? Hanzo can help. Our best-in-class website archiving technology automatically crawls websites on a predetermined schedule and generates complete, functional, interactive archives that establish exactly what a customer saw and experienced on the live site. In times of uncertainty and confusion, Hanzo’s website archives give you certainty.

 

Ready to learn more?

Our webinar, “A Look Ahead—Perspectives on Compliance in Uncertain Times,” will air this Wednesday, July 15, at 10 a.m. Pacific. Registration is available here until the webinar starts, or, if you missed the live event, you can catch a video replay on demand on our website



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