Staying Connected With Customers Through the Coronavirus Outbreak
As the coronavirus, COVID-19, continues to spread throughout local communities, we are finding that our environment is changing daily and it can be a daunting task to navigate the daily challenges confronting each of us, our families and friends.
We know all too well that this crisis will very likely have a lasting effect on our community, emotionally, physically and financially.
Of course the top priority is to stay healthy and safe. Yet we would do well to remember that local businesses, like those across the country, will likely be severely impacted.
As a business owner, do you have a plan in the event that your business is shut down or you have an employee that comes down with the virus?
Knowledge is power when dealing with COVID-19 and I would like to share with you all some information about the corona virus and its impact on the workplace in order to provide both employers and employees tools and resources to assist you in the coming days.
Staying connected with customers through the coronavirus outbreak
Your customers may be on self-quarantine, but that doesn't mean you can't stay connected and continue providing excellent service. From ramping up your social media presence to offering online deals, there are many ways small business owners can stay engaged with customers and keep sales alive during COVID-19.
Consumers have increasingly grown panicked about COVID-19. Store shelves are depleted of goods like toilet paper and hand sanitizer. Schools are closing, offices are urging employees to work from home and small businesses that rely on foot traffic are seeing their in-store sales take a hit.
If you've noticed a drop in patrons, you're not alone. According to the NFIB Research Center, nearly one-quarter of small business owners say the coronavirus outbreak is negatively impacting them in the form of slower sales (42%), supply chain disruptions (39%) and sick employees (4%). However, in our digital world, there are plenty of ways to stay connected to your customers through this pandemic and keep your business resilient.
Here are a few smart strategies for brick-and-mortar businesses looking to keep their audience engaged and in the loop, even if they're self-quarantined or avoiding public places.
Let customers know what you're doing to prevent the spread of COVID-19
Send an email to your customers and post signage in your store to assure them that you're doing everything you can to protect their health when they visit your store. Share any increased cleaning, disinfecting and hygiene protocols you're following, and let them know that you are enforcing self-quarantine among any employees who might be experiencing symptoms. If you are altering your hours or closing your store for a deep-clean, you should let your customers know that too.
Increase your social media presence
Your customers are already on social media, but these days, they are likely checking in much more frequently to get the latest updates on the virus. Whether you're posting about the virus specifically or trying to offer light, positive content to 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.
If you operate a service-based business like a restaurant or a salon, you may want to consider offering online sales of gift certificates.
Offer online deals
If your business already has an e-commerce component, remind customers that they can still shop for their favorite 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.
If you operate a service-based business like a restaurant or a salon, you may want to consider offering online sales of gift certificates. Encourage your customers to buy a certificate now, so they can treat themselves and redeem it when the virus outbreak has slowed and their self-quarantine period is over. This can help maintain sales for you, while giving your customers something fun and exciting to look forward to.
Stock up on sanitizing products and make sure people know where to wash their hands
For those customers who do come into your store, it's important to enforce good hygiene practices and encourage everyone who passes through your doors (customers and employees alike) to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's recommendations for preventing the spread of COVID-19.
If your store has a restroom for customer use, put up extra signs pointing them in the right direction to wash their hands, and post the CDC's guidance in the restroom. If not, you may wish to offer hand sanitizer near the front of the store or at the cash register for customer and employee use.
Focus on serving your customers through digital channels
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, Zoom or FaceTime, so your customers can get that "face-to-face" feel without actually being there in-person.
For more resources on dealing with the evolving COVID-19 outbreak, we have created a page on our website
. We are encouraging all businesses that need assistance in navigating the resources available to call the County OES Information line on 707.268.2527 or visit the
North Coast SBDC site
for Covid-19 information for small busin
Please remember that the chamber staff and myself are working hard to support you, bring you relevant and concise information, advocate for your businesses, and promote you via our website and social medial sites. Just in the last 4 weeks we have reached approx 50,000 viewers via Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and our website. Please tag us in your posts, share your working conditions, email us or call for us to promote your businesses or for support. Let us help prepare you for the new normal. I believe that we are truly stronger together.
Thanks to Nicole Fallon US Chamber contributor for tips.