Since early March, the impact of COVID-19 on the world--and in particular, the U.S.--has grown exponentially, with business owners forced to make difficult decisions that impact their bottom line on a daily basis. While some have closed for good, many businesses have been forced to shutter temporarily, and as uncertainty grows as to how the economy will recover, some have already begun taking steps to change their entire business model. Ideas about recovery, at least for the moment, are often being put on hold until things are a bit more secure.
However, there are several things business owners can do to ensure that their customers and clients remain informed and up-to-date on how things are being handled, which will help to lessen the impact that social distancing and isolation have had on the financial health of these businesses. Some actions you can take include:
It’s important to talk to your customers about what steps you’re taking to keep both them and your employees safe and healthy. This might include hourly sanitization of workspaces, the use of gloves and masks, and/or setting limits on how many individuals are allowed to be in your storefront or office at one time. These rules can help everyone feel comfortable, whether they’re shopping in your store or working on your inventory.
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You could even utilize the video functions on platforms like Instagram and Facebook to show customers your workspace so they can see for themselves which steps you’re taking for their wellbeing.
Setting your business apart
Because so many companies have been affected by COVID-19 in recent weeks, it’s important to set your business apart from the others when it comes to emails and other digital communications. Your customers likely have an influx of messages to read every day from business owners who want to reassure them about health and safety practices, so in order to ensure your communications don’t get overlooked, make sure you make each email or social media post unique from the last. Include helpful tips or information that your customers can use while they’re in isolation, or create original content.
Use the tools at your disposal
If your business involves physical inventory, such as art, unique jewelry, or clothing, it might be helpful to do live streams or videos that showcase some pieces, especially close to holidays like Easter, Mother’s Day, and Father’s Day. Social media sites are perfect for this kind of outreach, since many platforms offer payment solutions that allow customers to shop and buy from you directly. You can also link to your company’s website to make shopping easier. Talk to your customers about your decisions and the reasons behind them; for instance, promoting a business during a pandemic might seem a lot more understandable to customers if you explain that you’re doing all you can to retain your employees.
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Because so many people are relying heavily on email, websites, and social media for everything they need right now, it’s essential to keep updating your website, social pages, and Google profiles to ensure that the most accurate information is available at all times. This is especially important if you have altered your in-store hours or have new rules about how customers can access your business, such as by-appointment-only.
Checking your copy
Communicating with your customers during a stressful, scary time can be tricky. Check your copy before posting anything to social media, especially if you’re advertising services or goods. As Kristen McCormick at WordStream writes (1), verbiage such as “killer deals” or “going viral” can come across as insensitive. It’s also important to double-check for grammatical and spelling mistakes, as you don’t want your content to come across as rushed or careless.
Looking for ways to be helpful
Your customers are likely dealing with a lot at the moment, from homeschooling their children to figuring out how to pay their bills on time. There are several things you can do to be helpful, such as giving back to the local community or customizing your services to be more at-home friendly for those who are self-isolating (2).
Keeping communication open with your customers is so important right now. With these helpful tips, you can help give them peace of mind during an extremely trying time.
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