As the COVID-19 pandemic was making headlines earlier this year and businesses began to close, there were many questions as to how businesses should communicate to customers. Now, as states across the country slowly begin to open up again, there will be many more.
Truly, what you do as a business and how you treat people during a crisis will be remembered. If you do it right, you can win and grow market share. If you do it wrong, the reverse is also true. It is imperative that businesses—regardless of industry—have a reopening plan for communications as well as operations.
The first step to reopening should always be following official guidance and doing your absolute best to ensure your staff and your customers or guests are safe. When you have that plan in place, consider the steps below to optimize your reopening communications.
Update your info. If your guests don’t know what your hours are or even if you are open, they definitely can’t visit, whether for takeout or in-person. Check Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Google and your own website. Search your business, and check the results. Does everything have your current hours and operations correctly listed? If not, fix it.
Communicate to your customers. You might be scared about blowback, or nervous that with new operations, you’ll be totally overwhelmed by customer demand when you reopen. But your customers still need to know what’s going on. Tell them! Update your website to reflect your new procedures, post on social with regular updates, or send an eblast. Again, if your guests don’t know how you’re operating, they can’t visit.
Be extra responsive. People are going to have questions, and they are going to have opinions. Now is the time to spend more time on call to answer those queries. Monitor your social media inboxes, your email inboxes and your phone line. It might help to brainstorm a few frequently asked questions and create a set response so everyone who is replying stays on message.
Monitor the situation. This is a crisis, and there will be a harsher spotlight on your business now than ever. People might not agree with your operating procedures, or they might not feel they are getting the same experience because of them. Now is the time to deploy your best social media listening tools. Monitor conversations you are tagged in or that mention your business and be prepared to respond in a way that diffuses the situation.
Stay top of mind. It’s not business as usual, but find ways you can continue to communicate with your guests. Post on social media. Send an email. There are a lot of messages flying around out there, and you need to ensure you are staying top of mind.
Learn from this. Did you do anything during the crisis that worked well? Perhaps you started a weekly virtual series, or deployed an awesome family meal deal. What can you continue to do even in reopening that would help move the needle?
We know you’ve heard this many times over, but these are unprecedented times. It can be tough to walk the line of communication during reopening. We hope these tips help, but if you have questions or are feeling overwhelmed, don’t hesitate to reach out.
We, too, are a small business navigating this crisis. We can be your Orlando public relations partner, whether you are a restaurant, attraction or B2B company. Email Will at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 407-462-2718 and let’s start the conversation.