I think I’ve spent more time in Zoom meetings over the past two months than I have in my life! I’m sure many of you feel the same. One of the common themes of the meetings I’ve been in has been “How do we survive and keep our businesses alive when our doors are closed or we’re limited as to how many customers we can serve?”
Whether it’s world or community events, natural disasters, or other disruptions, it’s a challenge to make decisions about what you should do to keep your business going and to continue serving your customers during difficult times.
What you do now to stay connected to and continue serving your customers will have a lasting impact long after things go back to “normal.” You need to take action NOW to not only stay connected, but to come up with innovative ways to serve your customers and keep your business moving forward.
STOP FOCUSING ON WHAT YOU CAN’T DO AND FOCUS ON WHAT YOU CAN
In uncertain times, people have a tendency to focus on what they’ve lost and what they can no longer do. Not only is this type of thinking likely to increase stress, but it’s counterproductive, especially for business leaders. Instead, focus on what you can do; for your business, for your customers, and for your employees.
The restaurant industry during the Coronavirus pandemic has been a great example. Although restaurants did shut down, many restaurant owners took a step back and asked, “What CAN we do?” Restaurants that normally didn’t deliver, started to deliver. Servers became delivery drivers or phone-order takers. Phone and online orders with curbside pickup became the norm. Many of these things can and have been done by other businesses as well.
COMMUNICATE, BUT DON’T BECOME A SPAMMER
If you’ve established a routine of keeping in touch with your customers via email, phone, text, or social media, now is not the time to stop communicating. Even if you’ve been forced to close your doors and your business relies 100 percent on customers coming into your business, you need to remind customers you’re there for them and keep providing them with value so they’ll come back when your doors open.
Keeping in touch and providing value is great, but becoming a spammer is not. One of the trends I’ve noticed from some businesses in panic mode is to over-communicate and to sell, sell, sell.
Trying to hard-sell customers in a time of crisis will likely just drive them away. If you want to stay front-of-mind with your customers, focusing on serving your customers and the community is the best way to keep their business. Share tips and “how to” videos related to your business to not only help customers serve themselves when you can’t serve them, but to also keep your business “front of mind.”
Additionally, if you normally send out a weekly email, don’t start emailing twice a day. Right now, your customers’ inboxes are overflowing with emails from desperate companies trying to keep their business. You don’t want to be one of the ones to whom they “unsubscribe.” However, it is okay to communicate a little more than normal because you’re not having that face-to-face contact in your business that you normally have. The key is to stay consistent with your communication, whether it’s your regular Wednesday email, your “Friday Funnies” video, or your twice-daily Facebook posts; keep those efforts up to stay in front of your customers.
CREATE OPPORTUNITIES FOR CONNECTION
During this time, many people feel isolated and crave connection with others. You can not only facilitate this feeling of connection, but benefit from being a source of connection. Create opportunities for customers to meet others with similar interests (related to your business) to share information and experiences. Creating online events, live-streaming video that people can experience together, and interactive social media posts are a great way to give your customers a sense of community and keep them interacting with your business as well.