Photo courtesy of Odua Images/Shutterstock.com
We are living in unprecedented times as businesses and consumers learn to navigate the challenges of COVID-19. Everyone is adjusting behaviors and learning to work together to get through this trying time. With the right adjustments and steps, your small business can provide excellent customer service that builds trust with your loyal customers during this trying time. Here are five things every small business should be doing during (and after) the shutdown.
1. Communicate clearly how your business is responding.
Tell your customers that you understand how the pandemic and economic shutdown is affecting people. Outline the steps you are taking to keep your employees and customers safe. Make every effort to humanize your company.
2. Educate people about how to interact with your company.
If you are still providing services, clearly describe what your customers should expect. Outline what they might need to do differently to interact with you. Tell them about new hours, ordering options, and any other changes. Reassure people that you are taking every reasonable precaution and putting people over profit.
For example, an HVAC service company should tell their customers how technicians will dress differently or adjust their service-call process to comply with social distancing.
3. Look for ways to innovate and offer new products or services
Chaos provides an opportunity for innovation. Look for opportunities to innovate as you navigate the ongoing pandemic. Tell your customers how you plan to serve them in new ways. For example, distilleries all over the country are producing hand sanitizers to help meet the demand. Retail stores are introducing contact-free pick-up options.
Some of these innovations may not be necessary after the pandemic is over, but many may become a new expectation. Look for opportunities to innovate in ways that are likely to remain popular and relevant after things begin to return to normal. Be sure to tell your customers how you are working to serve them better.
4. Look for opportunities to help
If at all possible, look for opportunities to support your local and national communities.
Infographic courtesy of Listrak
Kendra Scott, a national jewelry company, advertised that they are donating 50 percent of their proceeds from a bracelet sale to a fund established by Feeding America to support local food banks. Wattie Ink, a small triathlon apparel company, switched from making cycling kits to face masks in their California factory. They introduced a “buy one, give one” model to entice customers to purchase a mask for themselves and donate one to a person in need. Zoom provided free videoconferencing software to K-12 schools all over the country. The New York Times is offering its pandemic coverage content for free. Disney released Frozen 2 and Onward on their streaming service far ahead of schedule to keep kids entertained. You get the idea.
These types of actions build trust and goodwill with your current customers. They also get your brand and name out there to potential customers.
5. Make cancellations easy
Many people are suffering real financial hardship and are cutting back on spending. Make it easy for customers to pause or cancel services and subscriptions without penalty.
We know businesses can’t afford to lose customers at this time. Still, it’s better for a customer to leave for a few months and return when they are in a better financial position than to be angry that they cannot easily cancel a service or subscription and never return. Demonstrate that you care more about their financial stability than your bottom line by temporarily altering or suspending your cancellation policies.
There are many other ways small businesses can offer excellent customer service during the Coronavirus pandemic. It’s a challenging time for everyone, and the more you do to build trust and care for customers, the better off your business will be in the long run.