As parts of the country and the world begin to open up, we all hope for some semblance of normal with our business. Many predict that we may never 100% get back to normal. And that’s ok, there’s several things you can do now to safely prepare to go back to work and to open your doors for business.
Map Out Every Customer Touch Point
Take a few minutes to think about every point of contact with your customers. This includes both in person and online. How do your customers contact your business? How do you reach out to them? Is it in social media pages? Over the phone? Text messaging? Then how you do interact with them in person. If in your store, do you have associates or employees talking with them? Or do you have employees who show up in person to homes and businesses?
There are dozens of more contact points not listed here. But the point of this exercise is to figure out how those touch points need to change in the wake of COVID-19. Just because we can open for business doesn’t mean we are in the clear. Many Americans still fear opening too soon can lead to worse problems down the line. They want to know that if they do need to visit your store or contact your business that they will be taken care of and safe.
By mapping out every touchpoint, you can audit how you can show your business cares about their safety and wellbeing.
Show How You’re Taking Care of Customers
Once you figure out how you interact with your customers, you need to show how you are taking care of them right now. The market is up for grabs. Loyalties no longer matter in the age of coronavirus. If your competition can better take care of your customers, you’ll find people going there. You need to show you care about your customers and have their best interest at heart, while taking care of their needs.
This could look like limiting the amount of people in the store at a time. This means hand sanitizer stations and all employees in face masks. It also should mean a face mask mandate for anyone who comes in your store or interacts with your business. It means you have barriers in high traffic areas. But beyond in person signals, online messaging needs to be just as important. Make sure your online business profiles show updated hours and have information around the extra precautions you take. You need to have good visuals that show these extra measures. You need to show your employees wearing gloves and masks. And you need to talk directly to your customers about how their safety is your priority.
You’ve heard the term actions speak louder than words. And nothing is more true than that during this time.
Update Your Online Presence
Another common phrase is actions speak louder than words. But in this case, words might be the more powerful option. Having a strong online presence literally has never been more important. As people look for who can take care of their needs while keeping them safe, they go online. If your site looks no different than it did before the pandemic and there is no messaging on the extra care taken to prevent the spread of the virus, a customer won’t even bother with your business. They will go to someone who does.
We’re not saying you need to have pictures of people in masks all over the place. But be strategic about your messaging. You need to tell people through your social pages the steps you’re taking. You need to show you’re going to take care of them. And on your profiles like Google My Business, you need to have updated hours and information about how your business model has shifted because of the virus.
Take Care of Employees
Your employees can help make or break this entire safe commerce plan you’ve put together. There’s two fold, you need to take care of your employees and make sure to keep them safe. And in turn, teach them to help keep your customers safe also. It’s important to take care of those who are the frontline of your business. And taking care of your employees also helps your business in the long run. Psychologically, those who know they are taken care of by their employer, generally work harder and put in more time and effort for their jobs.
Watching out for your employees truly helps your business. How many stories have you heard during this pandemic where some employers continued to require employees to show up to work even if they weren’t feeling well, then dozens got sick and the entire place had to close down. Don’t be that business. That’s both bad for employee morale and bad PR within your community.
By taking care of your employees health at this time, they also take care of customers. Make sure they are protected as well at all those customer touch points you outlined in step one.
Prepare for the Long Haul
Unfortunately, COVID-19 is not going away anytime soon. We’re in a new phase of normal where wearing masks and keeping your distance from others in public places is considered status quo. And until a vaccine comes out, these policies are likely to stay in place for a long time. But that’s why it’s important to prepare now for what will likely be a very long journey back to what used to be.
Because consumer behavior has shifted so drastically, right now opens up many opportunities to reach out to new potential customers. If you can show how your business has adapted and takes care of customers, you can win over those who just want to stay safe at this time. The market share is up for grabs. Seize it by taking these steps and preparing for an entirely new era of business.