Have you made some changes to your business recently? You’re not alone. Practically every business in the country changed their normal practices and procedures in some way in response to the pandemic.
It was a long, hard year, but now vaccination numbers are growing and we're slowly starting to return to business as usual. That means you may need to adapt your business practices once again. This is an encouraging, possibly even exciting prospect!
Before you start developing your "back to business" plan, take a moment to think about your customers. Do they know about the changes you’ve made and are continuing to make? Do they remember what visiting your business was like before the pandemic? Are they ready for a return to normalcy?
These questions are essential to your customers' experience and the health of your business. Keep reading to find out why it is important to keep your customers informed of any changes you make, and how to make sure they get the message.
Why Keeping Customers Informed is Key
Any time your business hours, policies, or procedures change, it is important to inform your customers. No one likes to be left in the dark or feel unprepared!
For example, imagine you're heading home from a long day. You went straight from work to the gym and are ready to grab a sandwich from your favorite local spot. So, you drive across town, planning out your order in your head.
When you arrive, you park and walk up to the door. Pull the handle and - thump! It's locked. You pull the handle a couple more times just to be sure, and stare bewildered at the hours posted on the door.
Sure enough, the restaurant's operating hours have changed! And there you are, a loyal customer, standing outside with your stomach growling.
Have you ever experienced something like this? You expect a business to be open, find it's not, and then feel lost and confused for a moment or two. Or, maybe you plan to be one of the first people in line for a new product launch and find out the hard way that the business opened earlier than you thought. Either of these situations can be frustrating, which is surely not the way you want your customers to feel.
It’s courteous and thoughtful to inform customers about changes to your business. Not to mention, it's essential to your success! If a customer is always met with a locked door or missed sale, they probably won't be your customer for much longer. This is why it is imperative to share important updates as they arise.
Keep reading for advice on how and where to publish this information.
How to Keep Customers Informed
As your business grows and changes, you’ll need a way to answer your customers’ main questions all at once. That means you will need to develop an effective communication strategy if you don’t already have one in place.
To effectively communicate with every customer, start by creating a consistent message that can be shared across multiple channels. It’s important to use tools like social media, Google My Business, and email as part of your strategy because all your customers prefer to communicate in different ways.
Here is a list of some of the channels you may want to consider incorporating into your communication strategy:
1. Your Website
Your website is your most important marketing tool. Post any changes to your health and safety practices, hours, or operations here first. That way, when you direct customers to your website from other channels, the message is clear and consistent.
2. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.
Most company pages on social media platforms include areas to list important business information such as your address, hours, phone number, email, web address, business type, and more. Make sure you update this section any time you make a big change that your customers need to know about.
If you have a list of customer email addresses from a loyalty program, promotions, newsletter, or other opt-in method, use it! Sending an email to many customers at once is an effective, direct way to share your message.
You can also take the customer service one step further by encouraging customers to reply to the email with any questions they may have.
4. Phone or App
Don’t forget to update your outgoing phone message with new hours if you have them and a brief overview of anything customers should know before entering. (For example, make it clear if you are still requiring masks.)
If you have an app for your business, you should also be sure to update this much like you did with your website. You may even be able to send push notifications or messages to customers through your app. Talk with your developer to see if this is an option.
5. Yelp, OpenTable, TripAdvisor, etc.
If your business is listed on any third-party review site(s), contact them to make sure your business information is up to date. Like social media pages, these review sites have space for your address, hours, phone number, email, web address, menu, and more.
You can also keep an eye on the reviews your customers leave and answer questions or thank them for supporting your business.
6. Google My Business Page
When you search for a business name on Google, a listing will appear on the right side of the page with details on the business you might be looking for.
Did you know that you have can update the information on this page? All you need to do is claim your business, create a free Google My Business account, and you will have control over this information. Update your hours, dine-in or carry-out options, phone number, web address, and more through Google My Business.
7. Your Front Window
Don’t forget to post any updates to your hours, rules, or regulations in the front window!
We hope you find this advice helpful as you develop or update your communication strategy. For more tips, ideas, and advice, check out these blog posts: