12 Strategies for Reassuring Customers during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak
At the NW Business Association, we’re hearing from business who are seeing a decrease in customer visits right now as many people try to minimize their possible exposure to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) virus.
How concerned are you as a local businesses? What impacts are you experiencing? What support might the Business Association offer right now? Those are questions we’d like your feedback on:
We’ve also collected 12 simple strategies you can employ now to help instill customer confidence and keep your business flowing.
Let people know what you’re doing
People are looking for reassurances. Let them know the organizations you’re looking to for guidance, show that you’re informed on the topic of COVID-19 and—most importantly—communicate the safe practices you’re using to mitigate the risk.
Venture Portland offers these tips for local businesses:
Use your social media platforms and post pictures now. These visuals may go a long way in making your customers feel connected to your business, even if they aren’t able to come in and visit you right now.
Here’s an excellent customer email example from OnPoint Credit Union.
Are you a healthcare business? It’s extra important to let your clients know that you’re on top of your game. Here’s a great email example from Pediatric Specialists of the NW.
If you already have an online store – promote it.
Use your email lists and social platforms to remind your customers they can buy online. Give them a discount so they buy now.
If you don’t have an online shopping experience, it may be time to set one up. You can also add products to your business Facebook page.
Promote Gift Cards
Encourage your customers to “gift themselves” with your gift cards. Every card purchased helps your bottom line during this tough time… and sets your customers’ intention to come back again soon.
Offer a discount on gift card purchases as an inducement to act now. Reality is, many gift cards may never be redeemed, so a discount can be a good calculated risk to encourage customers to spend now.
Venture Portland alerted us to a web site that’s been established to encourage consumers to buy gift cards now to support local small businesses. Check out PDXSOS.com and add your small business to the list!
Service businesses: Offer promotional packages
Give your customers ways to pay now for services or experiences they can come in for later. One idea is a “buy five visits and get the sixth at half price (or free)”-type offer.
Also consider adding subscriptions. These can create a steady, ongoing stream of revenue to offset economic ups and downs. They also make it convenient for customers to budget for more regular use of your services.
If you start to get reservation cancellations, offer credits vs refunds
Consider offering customers the ability to postpone an appointment or reservation versus cancelling. Whether you call it a raincheck, a credit or a reschedule, the point is to preserve the revenue. Plus, let’s face it: no one really likes to have to cancel. Your customers might be relieved to go the raincheck route.
Promote delivery services
Just because customers aren’t coming in doesn’t mean they don’t want to buy from you. Let them know they can buy by phone, text, email, app…and have their items delivered. Many people are happy to pay extra for delivery if it means added convenience or not missing out on their favorite product or service. If you’re missing some of your regular customers, reach out to local businesses offering to take orders and deliver for the whole office.
Try teleconferencing, if you don’t already use it
If your people are used to having certain kinds of meetings in-person, look for creative ways to use teleconferencing as a make-do. We know of one local rock band, for example, that has recently changed band practice to business meeting night via teleconferencing.
Zoom is an excellent platform that enables screen sharing, teleconferencing, webinars and more.
Engage with your customers (and more than usual is definitely ok)
Stay in front of your customers, so you’re top-of-mind. Remind them of how great it will be to come in and see you again in person soon.
How? Use social media for new kinds of content: Create a survey, run a contest, post a video of your team, hold a Facebook Live event, or create an Instagram hashtag. Unusual times allow for experimentation. You may discover ideas that will increase revenue long after the current scare has passed.
Support other local businesses
In addition to ordering take-out from your favorite restaurants or ordering grocery deliveries (in NW, Food Front, New Seasons and Fred Meyer offer delivery via Instacart)… think also about the massage therapist or hair-dresser you love. Pay for services up-front. Buy from your favorite businesses online. Now is the time to pay it forward to help support your community.
Check your perspective: There’s opportunity in crisis
Every business will run into a crisis at some point. And while difficult times can cause disruption, there’s usually a silver lining if you look for it. The company that excels under pressure can earn extra bonus points of respect that translate into deeper connection and loyalty.
Does your business have a service that could help other businesses during this time? Or does your business need a specific resource? Reach out and let us know. Connecting is what we do and we’re happy to help!
Stay (well) informed
There is a lot of information floating around the Internet these days, and not all of it is accurate. Bookmark these three resources for the latest official information and guidance.
Oregon response: The Oregon Health Authority
United States response: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Global response: The World Health Organization
Amy Spreadborough is a Board Member and Web Committee Chair of the NW Business Association. She’s a Marketing Director, Brand Strategist & Copywriter with 25+ years of marketing experience, helping a wide variety of Pacific Northwest-based companies grow and succeed. www.agentmarcom.com.