How to Communicate Business Reopening with Customers
So, you’re reopening your business. That’s good news for you and your customers, right?
Even your most devoted customers may need reassurance that it’s safe to go back to doing business with you. You don’t just need to update your customers on your business hours and what products and services you have available. To reassure them it’s safe to do business with you, you also have to explain to them the health and safety protocols you’ve adopted to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Here are some ways you can communicate to customers that you are open and have taken the necessary precautions for their safety.
Use the Right Tone in Your Customer Communications
When communicating with clients during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s important to demonstrate care and empathy and express your organization’s support for your customers. The tone should be personal and relatable. Include messaging that communicates that we’re all in this together.
Craft a Single Message You Can Use Across Multiple Communication Channels
Using a single, clear reopening message across all your communication channels will help prevent the confusion that can result from multiple versions. Consistent messaging can be a way to build customer trust.
The message you develop should be timely, relevant, empathetic and address the current needs of your customers and the issues they face. It should be clear and explain:
- When you are open?
- What products and services you have available?
- How customers can work with you in-person and virtually.
- Everything you’re doing to keep people safe and healthy.
- The strength and stability of your organization, so they feel that there is a future in doing business with you, especially during these challenging economic times.
Your communications should provide clear, actionable information that will be useful to your clients. Consider that people are busy dealing with all sorts of things, which may include caring for relatives and children at home and figuring out how to do business in a new environment. They likely won’t appreciate fluff in your messages. Provide just the details to help people clearly understand the changes and what they will mean to them.
Before you publish the message anywhere, meet with your staff to gather feedback on it, ensure everyone understands it and is comfortable aligning around it.
Use the Right People to Communicate
When it relates to your key message, communications can be most effective when they come from the business owner or a senior leader. It helps convey a sense of authority and legitimacy.
Updates about logistical issues and sales opportunities can come from your customers’ regular sales or customer service reps, who they may be more familiar receiving emails from about more routine matters.
Publish and Distribute Your Message
Once you have your base messaging in place, it’s time to leverage it in copy and creative assets and distribute it through multiple channels including the following:
- Website. Update your business homepage so your reopening plans and health and safety protocols are front and center. It makes it easy for your customers to find the information. If your site has a chat function, be prepared to answer questions about all aspects of your business reopening.
- Social media. Create a series of posts for all your social media channels. Push them out — and promote them — regularly prior to your reopening and during the first few weeks you’re back in business. Frequent updates reinforce that you’re open and ready to serve customers and have prepared to help keep people safe. Use social media to make your business reopening real in a virtual world.
- Emails. Develop a series of emails that keep your customers up to date on all aspects of your business reopening.
- Text messages. Text messages can serve as regular reminders that your company is back up and running.
- Customer service. Train your customer service team on how to address customer concerns about your business reopening. Develop answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) so they’re prepared for everything they could be asked. Publish the FAQs on your website so customers don’t have to call or email you to get the information they need.
- Environmental messaging. Create outdoor messages to attract customers who might pass by your store.
Remember: A single communication won’t necessarily result in a customer remembering the new message. In fact, marketing’s “Rule of 7” suggests that a customer needs to hear a message seven times before it moves them to action. Leverage multiple channels to build messaging frequency so your customers know that you’re open and what you’re doing to keep them safe and healthy. Make sure you understand and comply with all regulations for the communication channels you choose, particularly email and text messaging.
Practice What You Preach
If your messaging is saying that you’re doing things to help keep people safe, make sure you do them and that it’s obvious to your customers that you are. Nothing erodes trust like a promise not kept.
Provide Updates as Things Change
Your reopening plans may evolve depending on the practical aspects of operating your business after reopening and subsequent updates to required pandemic-related protocols. Customers will better accept changes to your operations if you are transparent and explain why you’re making these changes. These changes might actually benefit customer experience because they demonstrate that you’re actively involved in addressing safety and adjusting as necessary to best address current conditions.
Leverage Targeted Communications
Over time, you might find that what your customers are experiencing, thinking and feeling varies for different segments of your customer base. Some may be hit harder than others. Some might actually be doing relatively well. Devise plans for how you can segment your client base so you can send more personalized communications that are more meaningful to them.
Sell, But Thoughtfully
The way you’re communicating your sales messages is especially important now. Once you’ve demonstrated care for your customers, it’s alright to try to make gentle recommendations, especially if you have something that will help them get through these challenging times or an offer that will save them money or allow them to work more efficiently. For example, if you have a product or service that can help your clients work from home more effectively, it’s a perfect time to introduce that solution. Consider offering a special, reduced-priced promotion on it. By doing this, you are serving and selling at the same time. It’s a win-win for your customers and your business.
Communicate Your Own Challenges and Concerns
Everybody is struggling. Be open and transparent about your own setbacks as well as your ongoing challenges in these new circumstances. Balance this with a positive outlook and it can help you build long-term connections with your customers.
Learn more about how to put your business out there as you reopen in our Business Reopening Playbook.
Prepare & Prevent
Demand for your products likely changed after COVID-19. Learn more about how to generate and control interest in your products and services.
As you ready your business to reopen, it is important to prepare for the “new normal,” with a business and safety plan that you can adapt to help you succeed in what will likely be a changing landscape.
With states easing restrictions, every business needs a strong plan for a successful reopening of the workplace for customers and employees. Scott Humphrey from Travelers Risk Control explains how our PATH Back to Business framework can help.