COVID Reopening: How to Get Customers to Come Back to Your Business Post-Pandemic
This article explains these 5 ways to get customers back after covid:
- Be diligent in following health guidelines
- Implement contactless solutions
- Be customer-centric
- Create incentives to get people in the door
- Spread the word!
Driving around any city or small town these days, you’re likely to see vacant storefronts that used to be thriving businesses before the pandemic. Covid-19 hit small businesses hard and has forced many to change their business models either temporarily or permanently.
As businesses look at reopening, there are a few things to take into consideration that will help you both reopen successfully and also keep customers and employees safe.
While some businesses, like retail, are at a lower risk according to OSHA, all businesses likely need to be making some adjustments to keep their staff and customers safe.
In many ways, we are all figuring this out in real-time, so it’s also important to exercise courtesy and remember that millions of Americans have suffered severe losses over the last few years.
As you begin to create your re-opening plan, consider following some of these tips to get your company back on its feet.
Let’s dive in.
1. Be diligent in following health guidelines
As you are reopening, it’s crucial that you do everything reasonably within your power to keep your employees safe. Your team is the backbone of your business, and if they feel unsafe, or don’t think you have their wellbeing in mind, you’re likely to lose them to a competitor.
Similarly, your customers want to know that you’re taking precautions as well. The last thing you want is for your customers to think that you are putting your own profits over their safety.
Luckily, there are very well-documented public health guidelines put out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These guidelines will help you ensure that you’re doing what you can to prevent the spread of illnesses.
While it may be important to stay abreast of general health recommendations (and of course, it’s vital to stay on top of official requirements), it’s also important to take into account your specific business and your community.
You may want to survey both your employees and your customers to learn about their health risk tolerance, what makes them feel safest, and what they expect from businesses they patronize. Depending on where you live and work, people may expect more/less safeguards and precautions in place.
A few recommendations that every business should follow include:
- Requiring employees and customers to use hand sanitizer
- Disinfecting all high-touch surfaces frequently
- Limiting the number of people that can be in your place of business at one time
- Posting signage that encourages social distancing
- Requiring face coverings when entering your place of business
These are common public health measures that many businesses took during the pandemic, however, in most areas, these precautions have been relaxed as the current wave dissipates.
For example, you would be hard-pressed to find customer mask mandates in place right now, but a few businesses still require unvaccinated employees to mask up. Similarly, many businesses are requiring their employees to get the Covid-19 vaccination. This is especially prevalent in industries like healthcare and geriatric care, where people may be more vulnerable.
2. Implement contactless solutions
As part of the new normal, many businesses that are re-opening are implementing social distancing and using other new methods to limit the contact between employees and customers.
Many of these methods came into practice during the pandemic for health reasons and are continuing to stick around simply out of convenience. For example, at the beginning of the pandemic, many restaurants began doing curbside pickup for food orders. While most restaurants are now doing dine-in, many businesses (grocery stores for example), are still doing curbside pickup due to the convenience for customers.
Other changes include more businesses utilizing online check-in via apps, cashless payment options (debit or credit cards instead of cash), and QR codes for restaurant menus. These are all great options that minimize touch even when you are in close contact.
If you choose to implement contactless solutions, keep in mind that some of these solutions may come at an additional cost to your business. While some of these methods may require an investment, (like purchasing an app), others like curbside pick-up are less costly.
It is up to you and your particular business to decide what is worth the investment, but it is a good idea to keep in mind that many of these solutions may still be commonplace long after COVID-19 is a threat.
If a particular technology is streamlining your operations, allowing you to make more sales with less staff, there’s a good chance that it is worth investing in for the long term.
3. Be customer-centric
Customer experience should be at the center of everything you do, whether you are a B2B or a B2C company. If you want your loyal customers to feel comfortable coming back into your business, it’s crucial that you are open with them about the challenges you’re facing and the differences they may experience while patronizing your business.
This can mean being upfront about price changes and your increasing supply costs. It can also mean being diligent and transparent about your cleaning and sanitation process.
As a business owner, get to know your customers and find out what they care about so that you can respond in a meaningful way.
Along the same lines, make sure you also care for your employees. We’ve all been living with extra stress in our lives these past two years, and your employees are the face of your company to customers. If you take good care of your people and make it clear that you have their backs and want them to provide the best customer experience possible, you’re more likely to create a strong culture that is focused on serving your clients.
This is of particular importance in service industries. Your staff has likely experienced an overwhelming number of additional strains due to the labor shortage.
Ensure that your customer base gets the best experience possible by giving your employees the support they need to show up and be their best selves every day.
4. Create incentives to get people in the door
Even with a loyal customer base, it’s possible that some of your patrons may need a little more incentive to get in the door. While you’re likely focused on earning a profit after months of being closed or only partially opened, creating some special offers or discounts can encourage both new and old customers to start spending money with you again.
When it comes to incentives, it’s best to be creative. Really, the purpose is to remind customers that you’re still kicking and to get them excited to come visit you. If you have a good business model and a strong value prop, you’re more likely to keep customers over the long haul.
Here are a few simple incentives you could try:
- A gift card when a customer spends more than a certain amount
- A discount for a customer’s first purchase after reopening
- A discount just for new customers to help grow your customer base
- A discount for customers who buy in bulk or purchase a subscription
While you want to be generous and get customers excited, your small business likely needs to be making as much profit as possible post-pandemic. Be generous with your deals but consider putting a time cap or other type of limit on them to keep customers from taking advantage of them too much with no real intention of becoming regular customers.
5. Spread the word!
When you reopen or relaunch, you should try to do so with a splash. This means making a marketing plan and executing it well so that your target market is aware of what you are trying to sell. A good marketing plan starts with casting a vision: What is it that you’re trying to accomplish? Is it to grow sales by 25%? To increase foot traffic? To get more leads? Once you have your goal in mind, you can map out the steps you need to get there.
For most businesses, your marketing plan should include building a strong social media presence.
To get started you can take these five steps:
- Create an announcement campaign. Before your official reopening, make sure to announce your reopening on social media. For maximum effectiveness, consider doing a countdown to give all of your followers a chance to see your posts. If you only post once, it’s likely that a lot of customers won’t see it!
- Ask customers to tag you or use your hashtag. When customers do come to visit post-covid-19, encourage them to post pictures and updates that tag you or use a hashtag that you created. This can be a great way to get organic user-generated content (UGC) and is a free form of advertisement.
- Post updates from your business. Remember how transparency with customers is important? The same rule applies here. Posting regular updates about your business can help keep your customers informed.
- Use video to show behind-the-scenes. With Instagram Reels and TikTok, there is no shortage of interesting videos you can create that highlight what goes on behind the scenes at your business. Whether it’s how you package products, style mannequins, or prepare dishes, your followers will love feeling like they know your business on a more personal level.
- Interact with your customers online. While you’re encouraging customers to tag you, use your hashtag, and interact with your posts, don’t forget to interact back! Answer DM’s promptly, respond to comments, and reshare content from your customers when they tag you or use your hashtag. This will help you not only get your business’s name out there but will also create community among your customers.
While social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok can be great for creating community with your B2C customers, LinkedIn is a great choice for reaching B2B customers. Many business owners and employees use LinkedIn to network, find new vendors, and learn about new tools and tactics.
By posting regular, insightful content, you can become a thought leader in your industry, and this will boost the visibility of your company among target customers.
No matter what social media strategy you choose, remember that to be successful, social media content should be interactive and encourage engagement.
As the pandemic winds down and life returns to normal, this is a good time to make investments in your business. People learned new habits and set new routines during lockdown, and upgrading your facilities, products, and services might be a welcome surprise to both old and new customers. Securing a reliable loan can be a great way to get the necessary cash flow. For example, Shihan was running a martial arts studio, but when the pandemic hit, business dried up. Thanks to a Biz2Credit loan, he was able to survive the downturn and now business is booming again.
Whether you need financial support or the support of your community to get your feet back on the ground, following these tips for successfully reopening can help you get where you want to be in no time.