Effective communication is crucial to the success of any business. It is even more important now, as some businesses reopen after the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. Finding effective ways to communicate with customers, letting them know you are available and working hard to ensure their safety will help you bring them back to your business.
Clear, regular communication can be the difference between loyal customers and those who wander off.
Here are seven ways to inform customers about changes to your business and services.
1. Make an official statement across all your channels
The first way to communicate with customers is to make a public statement. This is useful if you haven’t been communicating much during the pandemic.
Your statement should address three key areas:
The current status of your business
Be honest about the challenges you have faced during this period and how your business is meeting those challenges.
What you are doing to ensure safety as you reopen
Be sure to link any additional resources you have created on your website, such as your FAQ page (more on this later).
Thank your customers for their continued support during this difficult time. Show true concern about their welfare and let them know you are available and ready to do business in a safe way.
Finally, share how customers can reach you — email, text or social media? Be sure to respond right away when a client messages you.
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2. Update your business information on all platforms
The second obvious way to communicate with customers is to check your business listings. If key information such as your operating hours have changed, you need to update them everywhere.
These include your:
- Google My Business page
- Yelp and other business listings
- Social media pages
- Email templates
- Automated responses to customer emails and chat
Your goal is to ensure that the information available to your customers is accurate and up-to-date at all times and in all places.
3. Add a FAQ page to your website
If you have a website and you haven’t done so already, you should consider creating a coronavirus Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page. This is a great way to inform customers of changes.
Make sure this page is easy to find from your home page. You can do this by:
- Linking to the page in your website menu
- Creating a simple site-wide banner
- Adding a pop up on your home page with a link to COVID information
A FAQs section can be easily created in a few minutes using most reputable website builders.
4. Send regular email updates
If you use email marketing to communicate with your customers, now is the time to step up your efforts.
Follow up on your official statement with emails that will be useful to your customers at least twice a month. Include links to any resources you have created on your website and share any special offers that may be of interest to customers.
Keep in mind that your customers are likely to receive a lot of similar emails, so you want to keep your emails short, relevant and useful.
As always, be empathetic and considerate of your customers’ time and current challenges.
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5. Send text messages, if appropriate
While the majority of customers prefer to communicate with businesses via emails, some customers prefer phone calls and text messages. So, utilize the methods your customers use most.
If you use text marketing for your business, you could send updates via text to the customers who have agreed to receive them. In particular, SMS marketing works well for time-sensitive information that customers could miss in their emails.
6. Stay active on social media
Posting messages on social media sites such as Instagram and Facebook are one of the easiest ways to communicate with customers.
Regular updates remind customers that you are still in business, even if your store is temporarily closed.
Here are some suggestions to help you stay active on social media:
Share behind-the-scenes photos
Doing a deep cleaning of your restaurant? Share photos so customers can see how hard you are working to ensure their safety.
Feature customer photos on your social media pages
Show appreciation to customers who still avail your business by reposting their photos and sending a shout-out to them.
Keep customers in the loop through regular updates. With free tools like Canva, you can create eye-catching social media posts in a matter of minutes. You can even pre-schedule posts using tools like Hootsuite (more social tools here).
7. Respond promptly to questions and inquiries
Effective communication is never a one-way affair. Be prepared to answer any questions your customers may have.
Some of these questions may not be covered in any of your resources. That’s why it’s important to ensure your staff is up-to-date with your policies so they can provide responses on the go. Update your FAQs regularly.
Before you open
If you are reopening your business, customers will be interested in the measures you are taking to ensure their safety. You need to spend time creating a simple document outlining your safety protocols.
Some of the decisions you want to capture in this document are:
- How will you enforce social distancing?
- Will you limit the number of people in your store or facility at a given time?
- Are you making protective equipment available for your staff?
- Have your operating hours changed? What are your new hours?
- Can customers make orders online?
- Will you offer any incentives to encourage customers to order online?
- How have your services changed (if at all)?
Read Workplace safety for Indian businesses for a list of simple ways to prevent the COVID-19 spread in your workplace.
Bring your staff on board
The last thing you want is to confuse your customers with conflicting communications. To ensure consistency, your staff needs to understand established safety protocols and why they are important. That way, they can confidently respond to customer queries.
Communicate with customers clearly and consistently
Communicating with customers is important to ensure customer loyalty, especially during difficult times such as a pandemic. Take some time to think about your customers’ fears and concerns and establish appropriate safety guidelines.
Communicate updates with your customers via your website, emails, text messages and through regular posts on social media. Above all, engage and respond promptly to questions and feedback. By taking these steps, you can stay connected with your customers throughout this period.