Ways for Small Businesses to Stay Connected with Customers During the Coronavirus Pandemic
The COVID-19 Outbreak has impacted all businesses in some way. Some businesses are seeing a boom of new customers, while others are forced to temporarily close their doors. For many small business owners, the current pandemic is a devastating blow to everyday operations. Many businesses are laying off personnel and struggling to find ways to keep their doors open amid this health crisis. Yet, now more than ever, it is essential to continue reaching new and potential customers, offering a message of community support and solidarity in this difficult time. So, you might be looking for creative ways to keep in touch with your client base as social distancing measures continue.
Update Your Hours and Contact Info
During this time of uncertainty, many businesses are receiving a much higher volume of calls than usual. If you’re struggling to keep the phones staffed, you can curb the number of calls by keeping your business info up to date on your website and on your Google My Business listing. You may need to create and regularly update a page on your site with COVID-19 info that your customers should know. For example, if you are open, your hours should be clearly listed on this page. You should also alert customers of any limits on store occupancy and other measures you’re taking to keep staff and the general public safe. Even if your business won’t be open or is very limited in its availability, you should still offer a way for customers to reach you where you can reply as you have time, such as a customer service email address or form submission on your site.
If your business operates an online store (or you are beginning to utilize ecommerce to remain operational), remember to communicate essential shopping info to customers. For example, most major shipping companies are experiencing significant delays due to increased demand. That means that you may need to provide more order updates as your customers wait longer periods for their orders. If you are using third-party delivery apps for online orders, provide your customers with clear guidelines on downloading and utilizing those tools.
Offer Virtual Consults for Clients, If Possible
Continuing business may be a challenge if your services are traditionally offered in-person. However, modern technology can offer a solution: Virtual consults. In healthcare, telemedicine software can facilitate HIPAA compliant patient visits on a remote basis. For other businesses, there are tons of video software solutions that can help you keep appointments. Personal trainers, counselors, educators, financial experts, and marketing professionals can all keep business moving effectively within a virtual setting. If you do offer these services, make sure you update your clients via email and advertise appointment availability on your website as well.
Continue Posting on Social Media
Social media is always one of the most effective ways to connect with customers online. Currently, it is even more valuable as an engagement tool, because so many people are spending much more time on social media sites for a few key reasons. First, people want a way to feel connected in an era of social distancing. Sites like Facebook and Instagram help them do just that. In addition, people are looking for distractions and signals of stability during this time of crisis. Therefore, continuing to post updates on your chosen social media platforms presents a powerful opportunity to stay connected and relevant. Ideally, you will include a mix of coronavirus related updates and more fun, playful, or inspiring content to keep your audience interested.
If your business is taking extra steps to take care of employees, participate in community service, or enrich your local community in other ways, these are accomplishments you will absolutely want to highlight on social media. When customers see that local small businesses have such a strong impact on the communities they serve, they will easily become lifelong loyalists to your brand.
Take Advantage of Live Stream Opportunities
Another key tool that social media sites offer is live streaming, which can be a way to bring audiences together at a specific time for special announcements, performances, and giveaways. Live streaming offers tons of creative flexibility with the benefit of having likes and comments show up instantly, so you can engage with your audience in a dynamic setting. Businesses may host workshops for clients to attend, offer entertaining content with live music performances or artistic tutorials, or provide educational/health-based resources for the community.
If you don’t have resources to host live stream events, utilizing Stories features on Instagram and Facebook can be another way of reaching clients with specific, targeted updates about your business.
Use Creative Media to Keep Your Business on Customers’ Radar
There are more ways than ever to connect with people, which means there are tons of creative opportunities for your business to release content as mandatory social distancing continues. Streaming audio is one form of media you might explore to reach out to your customers in new ways during the coronavirus pandemic. On the creative side, you might host or sponsor a podcast. For example, local restaurants could produce podcasts offering tips on cooking at home or food histories related to their own restaurant specialties. You might also advertise with streaming music services, as listenership will likely increase as people seek more forms of entertainment from home.
Many small businesses are eligible for financial relief on a state and federal level. In addition to ensuring the livelihood of your employees, you can utilize these resources to tap into creative marketing opportunities that will help you prosper as business normalizes in the future.
Salem Surround is here to help your business through this difficult time. Our flexible, customized digital marketing services can help you surround your audience with your message and keep your business on their radar. Contact us today to learn how we can drive engagement for your brand when you need it most.