No one could have predicted that within a couple of months we would all be in the grips of a worldwide pandemic due to Covid-19 pandemic. The impact of the virus on businesses is real. It will hit some businesses harder than others, but everyone needs to take some actions to mitigate the impact on their products and services, and indeed their cash flow. Your customers may be on self-quarantine, but that does not mean you cannot stay connected and continue providing excellent service.
If your business is impacted, try and stay calm and logical, then work out a strategy to see you through this difficult period. You will want to throw yourself at your business but it is just as important to take care of your own physical and mental health as well as that of your staff. Involve others to see what they suggest can be done to support the business.
Here are a few smart strategies for brick-and-mortar businesses looking to keep their audience engaged and in the loop, even if they are self-quarantined or avoiding public places.
Let customers know what you are doing to prevent the spread of COVID-19
Send an email to your customers to assure them that you are doing everything you can to protect their health and that of your employees. Share any increased cleaning, disinfecting and hygiene protocols you and your employees are following, and let them know that you are enforcing social-distancing among all employees and how they too can do the same.
No one really knows how long the pandemic will be with us. Therefore, it will be important to consider the impact on your business over the following period of time:
- 1 week
- 1 month
- 3 months
- 1-3 years
Each time frame will most definitely require a differing response from you and your business. Start thinking and get planning properly in order to tackle this.
Increase your social media presence
These days, your customers are likely checking in much more frequently on social media to get the latest updates on the virus. Whether you’re posting about the virus specifically or trying to offer light, positive content that will help take people’s minds off the panic, it can be helpful to increase your posting frequency to ensure you are showing up in their news feeds.
Focus on serving your customers through digital channels
If your business already has an e-commerce component, remind customers that they can still shop for their favourite items on your website. It might even help to offer a coupon or discount to encourage online shopping while your customers are staying home anyway.
You may already offer phone and email support to your customers, but now is the time to increase your customer service capabilities and ensure your patrons can reach you—no matter where they are. Social media is a good place to start, as you can offer the option to chat via Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and other instant messaging platforms. You can also offer video conferencing options through Skype or Zoom, so your customers can get that “face-to-face” feel without actually being there in-person.
Maintain and improve your customer relationships
Don’t despair about the current craziness in the world. Consider this an opportunity to grow your business with your current customers. Here are some tips on how to achieve this:
- Deliver relevant, timely content that solves customers’ immediate and long-term challenges.
- Make it easy for customers to connect with you: Put an inbound customer service number in place; set up virtual meetings with an online scheduling app; prioritize online chatting with customers, and develop easy, time-saving online FAQs for customers.
- Deepen the customer relationship by offering more products and services
- Engage in your customers’ channels of preference (if they are reaching out through social media, respond to them through social media if their channel preference is email, respect and use that channel)
- Be responsive to all customers, regardless of the channel they choose (because they need to feel valued and trust you to deliver on your promise)