Have you made some changes to your business recently? You’re not alone. Practically every business in the country has changed their normal practices and procedures as we continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of those changes will be temporary, but others may become permanent.
As your business continues to adapt to circumstances beyond your control, take a moment to think about your customers. Do they know about the changes you’ve made? Do they know what to expect when visiting your business? Will they be aware of the specific health and safety rules you expect everyone to follow?
If you aren’t sure, you’ve come to the right place. In this post, we’ll share 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. Let’s look at a hypothetical example.
Victoria runs a small restaurant that serves vegan cuisine. When the pandemic hit, she wasn’t prepared to offer carry-out meals. That meant she had to shut down temporarily and figure things out. Victoria knew her loyal lunch bunch would be calling the next day to try to place an order for carry-out, so she quickly posted an announcement on her social media pages and website announcing the temporary closure. She also changed the message on the restaurant phone and posted signage on the front door. After a few weeks, she was able to secure the supplies she needed and adapt her menu for carry-out. Just as she had done before, Victoria updated her social media pages, website, and phone message to share that her restaurant would now be offering carry-out service with an adjusted menu. As soon as she opened, her loyal customers began calling to place their orders and business was booming once again.
Now, imagine what might have happened if Victoria hadn’t taken the time to inform her customers of the changes to her business. The loyal lunch bunch would have called to place an order with no response. Some customers may have searched online for information on Victoria’s business, only to find no posts, plans, or news. Other customers may have driven past the restaurant and assumed it was closed for good. If Victoria had made no announcement when she was ready to open once again, her customers may not have even noticed. That would mean bad news for her restaurant business, and a possible permanent loss of her customer base.
It’s courteous and thoughtful to inform customers about changes to your business. Plus, it’s essential to the success of your business, because without your customers, there is no business! Help your customers support you by sharing 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 faces outside challenges, you’ll need a way to answer your customers’ main questions all at once. That means you will need to create a thorough communication strategy if you don’t already have one in place.
To effectively communicate with all your customers, you need to develop 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 and a brief overview of anything new that customers should know before entering. (For example, wearing a facial covering or staying six feet apart from others.) 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 control of 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 build or update your communication strategy. For more tips, ideas, and advice, check out these blog posts: