Because of the pandemic and social-distancing rules, your business may be operating very differently from just a few weeks ago.
These changes are important for everyone’s health, but they’re also potentially confusing. Letting customers know about the changes is important for maintaining trust in your brand and keeping customers’ business.
To keep track of what updates to share and how to share them—while you’re also busy dealing with everything else—use this quick guide.
Let your customers know about these changes
Everyone understands that things have changed, but humans still get frustrated when our expectations aren’t met, especially when we’re stressed. Make things easier on your customers and your employees by briefly updating customers if your business has made any of these changes.
- Closures. If your business is temporarily shuttered, tell customers—especially if you run an eatery or store that normally offers items for local delivery.
- Changes in operating hours. Many essential businesses have cut back their open hours so staffers can disinfect and restock shelves. Some have added special shopping times for seniors and at-risk customers.
- Delays in restocking, deliveries and orders for curbside pickup. If your suppliers are falling behind, or if you’re short-staffed and taking longer to prepare orders, let customers know before they click the “buy” button.
- Hiring. Ordinarily, you might not pitch help wanted ads to your customers, but this isn’t an ordinary situation. If you’re an essential business that’s hiring, let your customers know. They may be suddenly looking for work or know someone who is.
- New procedures to slow the spread of the coronavirus. If you want customers to text you from their car when they arrive, wear face masks in your store, or let you take their temperature before they can enter your waiting room, give them a heads up.
- Quantity limits on items. Grocers, drugstores and other essential businesses are now limiting purchase quantities of some items like paper towels, bleach wipes and eggs to ensure that more customers can get what they need. To reduce complaints, make sure your customers know in advance.
It’s best to share all your changes in one message, because customers may tune out multiple messages. But keep it simple. Here’s a great example from Fiesta International Market’s homepage.
With this attention-getting notice, they’ve updated their store hours, outlined senior shopping hours, explained why they’ve made changes, posted a now hiring notice and link, and provided a link to more details—all in 70 words.
10 ways to reach your customers through multiple channels
The great thing about modern life is the ability to reach people in so many different ways. The downside right now is that you have to reach them in a bunch of different ways when there’s a crisis, and you may not always remember them all.
Use this checklist to ensure that as many of your customers as possible will know about your changes. You may be tempted to use only one or two channels to save time, but that’s a recipe for dissatisfaction among the customers you don’t reach.
Whenever your business makes a change that impacts customers, send out a quick email update to your entire customer list. For example, Topgolf’s email lets people know they’re closed but available for online play for free.
You can also include your changes on email receipts and replies to customer service inquiries—just make sure you keep that info up to date as your situation evolves.
2. Website popups or banners
Every page on your site needs a notice that lets customers know you’ve made some temporary changes. That way, no matter how visitors arrive at your site—through your homepage, a landing page or a product page—they still see the information they need.
Austin eatery Easy Tiger has done a great job of updating their website during the city’s stay-at-home orders. There’s a banner at the top of the page that offers curbside pickup and delivery and a pop-up to encourage customers to order online. Behind the pop-up is news about how the business is helping provide bread to local food banks.
3. Social media posts
Post on social media whenever you make changes customers need to know about. Pin your notices to the top of your page if you can. For example, see how this Austin cheese shop has updated its Instagram with its new hours, shopping options, curbside pickup policy and online classes:
Facebook for Business has a collection of templates and automated Messenger responses you can use to show visitors to your page that you’re still taking orders online or that you’ve temporarily closed.
If you reach any of your customers by text message, send quick updates to them through this channel. Here’s an example that followed an online order confirmation with a Texas grocery store:
5. Outgoing voice calls
Not every business needs to call its customers, but some should. For example, if you’re temporarily closing a clinic, therapy practice or another business where you normally see your clients or customers face to face, calling and leaving a message is a must, especially if you need to postpone existing appointments or move them online.
6. Message for incoming calls
Every business with a customer service line or office number should explain any changes on their phone menu or answering machine.
7. Push notifications through your chatbot tools
If you have a customer service chatbot in your online store that does push notification marketing to your customers, you can use it to let them know about changes.
8. Google My Business
At the very least, update your GMB listing to show if your store is closed or if your hours have changed. You can also add delivery services that you partner with, as this Austin restaurant has done:
To give customers more detailed information when they search for your business, check out our post on using the new Google My Business Covid-19 communication tools.
9. Local delivery services
Notify your delivery partners when your hours change so drivers don’t waste time and gas finding out the hard way that you’re closing early or that you’ve temporarily shut down.
10. Window signs
And finally, if you have a brick-and-mortar location, put a sign in the window—one that’s large and clear enough to read from a car at the curb.
Bookmark this list and return to it whenever you need to update your customers on critical information about your business. Keeping your customers in the loop is work, but when they know they can rely on your business to communicate clearly, they’re more likely to stay loyal and recommend you to others.
Get more tips for managing your business during times of crisis: