How to Respond to Customers While Your Business is Temporarily Closed
Businesses around the world continue to face challenges due to the significant impact of coronavirus (COVID-19). These unprecedented times have resulted in pivots to business models, temporary closures, and even permanent shutdowns. These new changes are likely financially disrupting your business, but with proper communication, you can ensure the continued support of your customers now and when your business reopens.
3 ways to address your customers during a pandemic
With a crisis as impactful as COVID-19, it is important that your business addresses the situation quickly and proactively communicates with its customers. Depending on your situation, you may need to announce reduced hours, store closures, or communicate how your customers can still support you during these uncertain times. Here are some things you should consider when addressing the impact of COVID-19 and what it means for your business and customers.
1. Show That You Care
Consumers are currently being bombarded with news regarding COVID-19, so it is important that the information you provide is relevant, clear, and thoughtful. The care and compassion you show will demonstrate how you prioritize the health and safety of your customers and employees over sales. This, in turn, will make you look more credible and trustworthy.
2. Explain How Your Business is Changing
Share the steps your business is taking in light of the situation. If you’re temporarily closing your business, you can also use this time to tell your customers how they can continue to support you. For example, you can ask your customers to leave reviews, to like or share posts, to get store credit instead of refunds, or even to buy gift cards.
3. Keep Your Messages Consistent
Though you want to provide a variety of channels through which your customers can communicate with you, you also want to make sure your company’s brand voice is consistent throughout the channels. In times of uncertainty, having a consistent and dependable voice is important.
How to communicate your business’ temporary closure using different social media platforms
There are many different platforms your business can use to let your customers know you are temporarily closed. Maintaining communication by giving updates through these platforms will reinforce the commitment you have toward customer service and customer satisfaction. Moreover, keeping your website and business listings up to date will prevent any confusion and help when you re-open.
● Facebook – It is recommended that you post at least once a week with updates to keep your customers informed. You can also update the image in your page header to indicate your business is temporarily closed.
● Phone – Update your voicemail to reflect the changes made to your business. Let people know you are temporarily closed and when you’ll likely be able to get back to them. Although you’ve temporarily closed your business, you can also opt to keep your lines open instead so that you can build relationships with new customers.
● Twitter – Twitter is often used to follow breaking news due to its platform structure. With the rapidly evolving situation of COVID-19, Twitter is great for spreading information to consumers with short quick updates.
● Instagram – Like Twitter, Instagram is a great medium to communicate information. It provides businesses with a creative outlet to update and maintain communication with their customers while staying at home.
● Website – Your contact page and homepage are two main areas you should have a pop-up message or message bar show up indicating the temporary closure of your business. If your business has taken certain measures to combat COVID-19, having a page dedicated to it is a good way to show your support.
Overall, it is recommended that you use social media platforms for regular updates, your website for more formal information, such as actions you are taking to address COVID-19 and your emails and texts for urgent messages such as your re-opening.
How should you communicate your business’ temporary closure using Google My Business
In response to COVID-19, Google has made some changes to its Google My Business (GMB) guidelines. These new measures will allow businesses to add a description to their business name to reflect their current situations amid COVID-19. For example, restaurants would be able to add descriptions such as take-out available, delivery available, temporarily closed, and more to their business name. Considering many consumers use Google listings to see what’s available in their area, it is important to keep your listing up to date. Misinformation can lower trust and lead to angry and frustrated customers.
With the number of businesses grappling with temporary closures, Google has recently introduced the term “temporarily closed.” Many businesses have already added this description to their google listing by going to their My Google Business dashboard. Unfortunately, businesses that do this will be unable to receive new reviews. As such, you can opt for using “special closing times” instead.
Special Closing Times
Special hours are used for holidays, special events, and special circumstances like construction or now COVID-19. When you use special closing times, your current hours will be shown as “closed” for the days that you want it to. This will allow you to continue to receive reviews, while still communicating that you are currently closed. You can set these new hours by going to your Google My Business dashboard.
Sometimes, a crisis can be the defining moment for a business. Though you can’t control the impact COVID-19 has on the economy, you can control the way you respond to it. The actions you take will be judged not only by your customers but by the industry you work in and potentially affect whether or not you have a successful reopening. Maintaining open communication with your customers is key to gaining support and weathering these changes.