COVID has economically and operationally impacted many businesses throughout the country. In most areas, non-essential enterprises have been ordered to shut down, and if allowed to remain open, must enforce stringent social distancing rules and regulations, often restricting business operations.
Making matters worse, we do not know when businesses will be able to reopen.
This means that business owners, managers, and other professionals must find ways to keep in touch with their customers and maintain business relationships during this challenging period. This way, when the doors start opening, and the economy picks up, they will be first in line to take advantage of it.
To do this, communication during COVID is imperative. Here are some tips on how to accomplish this and handle issues should they come up:
Keep customers updated
We know things are changing daily, but it is essential to keep customers updated with what is happening in your business, when you plan to reopen, what services or products you can still provide them, payment options, and any operational changes in effect now and likely to be in effect once the doors open.
Here’s a tip on how to do this: Send text messages. Email can be put off or ignored. Text messages are typically read as soon as they come in.
Change your business tone
Now is not the time to send marketing or promotional material about products or services. Many of your customers will feel it is inappropriate. What is appropriate is to provide them with quality, informative content. An example is advice on what steps they should be taking to prepare for their post-COVID opening. For instance, a Canadian school district has reached out to one of my clients, asking what steps they should take now to prepare for school reopening.
Ask how you can help
Your customers are just as stressed out about the virus as you are. Reach out to see if there is any way you can help in these unprecedented times. Two non-clients, for instance, have asked me to prepare news stories, notifying current and potential customers what products and services they are still offering during the emergency.
The federal government, as well as some state governments, is offering several stimulus packages and subsidies to help businesses through this trying time. The big problem now is that many of us, including the banks that will be administering many of these programs, are unsure of the guidelines and eligibility requirements so that you can take advantage of these benefits. If yours is a B2B business focusing on one or a select group of industries, be the thought leader for your industry. Be the one to let your customers know what opportunities have opened up, what steps to take, and which programs they are likely eligible for.
Handle cancellations gracefully
To cut operating costs, many businesses have had to let several people go. Making matters worse, they have no idea when they will hire again.
After letting staff go, their next step is looking to see what products, services, and other operational items they can pause or cancel. Although this can cause financial strain on you in the present time, it is best to handle these cancellations as gracefully as possible. Hopefully, if you keep in touch with your customers during this period, they will be more than happy to resume services.
More on cleaning and COVID can be found here.