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COVID-19: How your business can provide superior customer service despite lockdown

No one could have predicted that within a couple of months we would all be in the grips of a worldwide pandemic due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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COVID-19

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.

Stay calm

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.

(READ MORE: Coronavirus outbreak to impact tourism across Africa)

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Timescales

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

Startups groan losses due to COVID-19, may shutdown in months, COVID-19: Twelve new cases, total figure rises to 151, COVID-19: What businesses must do to mitigate crisis

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.

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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)

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MSME

Payroll Support Program: FG pays 101,567 beneficiaries first-month salary

The President announced thousands of beneficiaries received their first monthly payment from our Payroll Support Program.

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Payroll Support Program, President Buhari appoints 9 Chief Executives for government agencies, Nigerian British firm, Bail-Out Fund: FG deducts N122 billion from states’ account in 7-months [Full-List] , JUST IN: Buhari submits 2020 MTEF to Senate , FG to intervene in tech operation as lockdown causes chaos in tech market

President Muhammadu Buhari has announced that 101,567 beneficiaries, drawn from 16,253 businesses, received their first monthly payment from the Payroll Support Program yesterday.

This information was disclosed in a tweet by the official Twitter handle of the President.

READ: FG to slash import duties on tractors, buses, others in 2020 Finance Bill

READ: NCC tops lists of 25 most ethically-compliant regulators in Nigeria

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The President also disclosed that the program is an initiative by the Federal Government of Nigeria to ensure that Nigerian MSMEs survive, as the Federal Government supports qualifying MSMEs with staff salaries for 3 months.

READ: How FG saved over N206 billion in 2 years -IPPIS

Why this matters

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The stimulus package would go a long way to assist businesses in averting massive job loss or a crash of the business enterprise. The fund is expected to place affected businesses, which are beneficiaries of this fund, on the path of survival and sustainable growth.

READ: FG says 174,574 successfully register for N75 billion MSME survival fund in 48 hours

What you should know

In July, Nairametrics reported that the Federal Government had announced plans to roll out a N2.3 trillion stimulus package and survival fund for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) to stay afloat amid the economic challenges imposed by the pandemic.

READ: FG proposes a reduction of minimum tax rate next fiscal year

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The stimulus package, which is under the National Economic Sustainability Plan (NESP), includes payroll support for three months and guaranteed off-take schemes, among others.

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A month ago, Nairametrics reported that 70,000 businesses in Nigeria had been shortlisted from the 432,000 businesses that applied for the Payroll Support from the Federal Government’s Survival Fund Grant Scheme.

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MSME

Development Bank of Nigeria disbursed over N150 billion in 3 years

52% of loans disbursed by Development Bank of Nigeria in 2019 were to youths and women-owned businesses.

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Development Bank of Nigeria , Companies Allied Matters Act (CAMA)

Development Bank of Nigeria has disbursed over N150 billion since 2017 through twenty-seven (27) participating financial institutions, impacting close to 100,000 MSMEs through the process.

This is according to a disclosure by the Government of Nigeria, as seen by Nairametrics.

READ: CBN’s NCR facilitates N1.2 trillion loan For 155,000 MSMEs

READ: DBN meets SMEs’ financial need with over N70 billion

What you should know

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A verified tweet by the Government revealed that in 2019, 52% of the loans disbursed by the Development Bank of Nigeria were to youths and women-owned businesses.

READ: MSMEs crucial to providing employment to growing workforce – Peugeot Boss

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What they are saying

The Government of Nigeria tweeted “#DYK 52% of loans disbursed by @DevBankNG in 2019 were to youths and women-owned businesses. Since 2017, the Bank has disbursed more than N150 billion through 27 Participating Financial Institutions (PFIs), impacting close to 100,000 MSMEs.”

READ: DMO offers N50 million worth of FGN savings bond for subscription

Why it matters

The recent disclosure is in line with the present regime’s drive to diversify the economy and expand opportunities for youths and women, bridging the social exclusion gap, and ensuring prosperity for all.

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(READ MORE: #EndSARS: CBN says funds in frozen accounts may be linked to terrorist activities)

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The efforts by the Development Bank of Nigeria complements other social programmes introduced by the government and targeted towards Youths and Women, such as the Special Grant to Rural Women, Nigeria Youth Investment Fund, National Young Farmers Scheme, amongst others.

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MSME

FG commences disbursement of N20,000 special grant to rural women

Special grant project will see over 700,000 women empowered with N20,000 each.

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The Federal Government has commenced the disbursement of the N20,000 special grant to women in rural areas of Gombe state.

This is according to a verified tweet by the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, as seen by Nairametrics.

Recall that Nairametrics had earlier reported the flag-off of the special grant project for rural women, initiated by the Federal Government, which will see over 700,000 women empowered with N20,000 each.

What they are saying

Commenting on the latest development, the verified tweet reads thus:

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MAKE GOOD USE OF THE CASH GRANT”– Umar Faroq tells Rural Women.

The HM @FMHDSD @Sadiya_faroq has urged rural women in Gombe state to use the one-off cash grant given to them by the federal government to improve the lives of their families.

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What you should know

The rural women’s programme was introduced in 2020 by the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development as part of President Muhammadu Buhari’s social inclusion and poverty reduction agenda.

It includes the realization of the national aspiration of lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years.

The Grant for Rural Women is designed to provide a one-off grant to some of the poorest and most vulnerable women in rural Nigeria.

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