It’s an understatement to say that these last few months have been a struggle for small businesses. Many had to cease operations temporarily. Others could operate but had to move to an entirely virtual business model. Others were somewhere in between, faced with adapting their on-site processes to comply with rules and safety protocols.
No matter which situation your business has had to navigate, setting customer expectations has likely ranked among your top challenges. And now, as restrictions begin to lift and more companies begin to serve customers face-to-face (or “mask-to-mask,” as it were), it remains critical to manage the customer experience with care.
6 Ways to Manage the Customer Experience Through the Changing Coronavirus Crisis
1. Instill confidence in your company’s dedication to keeping customers safe.
Individuals have different levels of comfort about going out in public and entering businesses. By proactively sharing what you’re doing to keep everyone safe, you may ease the minds of customers who feel more vulnerable. Dedicate a section of your website to explaining the precautions and safety measures your business and staff are taking to protect customers. Also, consider adding that information to your social media profiles and occasionally reminding customers of your efforts through your posts.
2. Make sure customers understand the rules they must follow.
Clearly communicate the rules you want customers to follow when they’re at your location. If they must wear masks, stand on markings that are 6-feet apart while in the checkout line, wait to enter if a certain number of customers are already in the shop…you can alleviate confusion and misunderstanding if you spell out your requirements. Display signage at your location (outside and inside) and include the information on your website and in your social media profiles and posts. Also, consider adding those details into your email signature so that they appear in every outgoing message.
3. Keep closer tabs on your inventory.
If you rely on inventory to fulfill customer orders, you may be struggling with supply chain issues. As supply chains restart, their ramp-up to normal operations may take some time. It’s essential to communicate any foreseen issues with obtaining products. Customers may be disappointed, but they will appreciate knowing about product unavailability before they spend time and gas dollars driving to your location.
4. Express your empathy.
We’re all in this together! Communicate that you understand your customers’ frustrations about long wait times and extra rules. Remind them that you strive to provide the best service possible while taking the measures necessary to keep them safe.
5. Get feedback.
The best way to determine how comfortable your customers are with the changes in how your business is serving them is to ask them. Consider sending an email survey (through a tool such as SurveyMonkey). Or reach out to interview select customers by phone, Zoom, or a personal email. The more you know about how your customers feel about doing business with you during these unprecedented times, the better able you will be to adjust to their needs and concerns.
6. Ask a SCORE Mentor for input.
As COVID-19 continues to challenge the small business community, SCORE mentors are available by phone, email, and video calls to offer feedback and guidance. Contact us today. Mentoring is free and can help your business survive and thrive.