Over the past few months, things have not been business as usual. That is for certain!
Pretty much every business across the globe has been impacted by the pandemic or at least some version of restrictive government orders.
Businesses have been forced to pivot or adjust in a variety of creative ways to survive while continuing to efficiently provide up to date customer service.
Keeping Your Customers Informed
Whether your business is closed, working with scaled-back hours, limited staffing, or is open for business as usual, you need to know how to keep the customer informed and reassured.
We can count ourselves fortunate that all of this chaos is happening during the age of the Internet. It provides us with the necessary tools to stay current and also keep our customers informed of any changes to our daily operations.
But even though the tools are there, you still need to use them to keep your customers updated regularly.
Where To Post Regular Updates
On Your Website
By now, I’m sure you’ve seen all types of businesses with Covid-19 response notices in the header of their websites.
It’s been surprising to see that few notices have been updated, even though things are changing week by week. That’s not a good message to send.
Even if your business was never interrupted, having a notice and updating it regularly is going to accomplish a couple of things.
First, it will serve the main purpose of keeping your customers informed, which makes them feel as though they belong and are valued.
Second, it will let your customers know that you are still actively in business and have an interest in serving them and keeping them in the loop.
Why is it important to keep customers informed?
Without any updates from you, they are going to be left guessing…and in the dark. You don’t want them to make assumptions based on other things they’ve heard.
You can fix that simply by providing them with consistently updated notifications on your site.
Be sure to add a date each time you update. Then your visitors will know if the notice was posted since they last visited.
Local Listing Sites
Your listings on Google My Business and other local sites like Yelp and Bing Places should also be updated. Many of your customers will find your business on those listings even before your website. So you can imagine how important it is to keep that information current.
Most of those sites will allow you to set special hours for “exceptional” circumstances, like pandemics.
Social Media Sites
If you have a business page on Facebook and LinkedIn, be sure to keep those updated as well. You can do that through posts, images, and even videos.
Also, be sure to post regular updates to your Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube sites.
If you send out scheduled emails to your list, make sure to keep that content current. Use that space to keep your customers informed of any changes related to your products or services.
This is especially important in the case of autoresponders. Those are emails that are created in advance and then sent out in the future on a schedule. Make sure that any autoresponder emails that you have currently in the queue are edited as needed to contain content that is relative to current events.
As with autoresponders, also make sure that any order or account-related confirmation emails are updated to contain any information that is vital to your products or services. These details should address any potential delays in order fulfillment or onboarding.
If your business has foot traffic, place signs in conspicuous places that will help keep customers informed of new policies, procedures, and other details. You will want to make them aware of any mask policies, traffic flow guidelines, and marks you have placed on the floor to designate adequate social distancing.
Place notices on or near your doors that provide any new operating hours. Then, when customers visit your location outside of your new hours, they will be able to see the updated hours instead of a “Closed” sign.
It would also be a good idea to add a QR code on any signage. Your customers can scan the sign with their mobile device and then be taken to a page of your website that provides consistent updates. Be sure to remind them to bookmark your site and to check back often.
Your Phone System
If you are using an auto-attendant message on your phone system, you will want to keep that message and any voicemail announcements updated often.
If you have any temporary staffing changes, this would be a good place to inform your callers of new extension numbers, hours, or departments. Provide them with alternative methods to get in touch with you outside of your current operating hours.
You could also inform them of any resources you have in place to get automated assistance instead of waiting for a callback.
Information You Should Include
How have you been required to adjust day to day operations?
Have you scaled back staffing or hours of operation?
Your Current Business Hours
This one is very important. The last thing you want is to have your customers showing up at your door, frustrated because they weren’t aware of your adjusted hours of operation. Let them know your hours for each day of the week, as well as any upcoming change in hours that you foresee.
Due to scaled back staffing our hours until the 15th are:
Monday – Friday 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM
Saturday 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM
After the 15th, we expect to resume our normal staffing and hours. Please check back here for updates:
Monday – Friday 8:00 AM to 7:00 PM
Saturday 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Safety Measures You Have Put Into Place
Customers will want to know what policies and procedures you have put into place for their safety and the protection of your staff.
Is everybody on your team wearing masks and gloves?
How often are you disinfecting surfaces?
Do you require your customers to wear masks to enter?
Do you provide hand sanitizer stations and wipes for carts?
New Ways of Fulfillment and Special Offers
As you reopen, you will be entering a new normal. Now maybe a great time to generate new revenue streams as well as reworking your original methods for efficiency.
Will you be making changes to your products or services? These could include things like delivery, extended return policies, video classes, after-hours phone support, or limited time offers.
Give your customers step by step instructions on how any new services work. Let them know what they can expect, so it will remove any mystery that may cause hesitation.
Since this Covid-19 saga has begun, being able to predict the future has been virtually impossible. But we can still provide a limited outlook.
It’s important to explain to your customers not only your current status but also any plans that you hope to have for the future.
Are you planning to extend your hours or grow your staff?
Although it’s hard to know what the future brings, you can still do conditional planning by using “if/then” type notices.
“If the state extends the stay at home orders, then we will operate during these business hours.”
“If regulators require us to maintain 50% of our capacity, then we will set up queuing lines near the west entrance doors.”
If/then policies can help put predictability into your policies during a time when things change at a moment’s notice.
Whether things in your business are scaled way back or are moving into a new normal, it is very important to keep your prospects and customers updated often. They will appreciate the information, and you may lock in that customer relationship for life.