Small businesses are nimble and can adapt quickly, and those able to modify their customer service experience to suit the times are more likely to survive in the current environment – and even thrive going forward.
Of particular focus now is showing concern for customer wellbeing. What steps are small businesses taking now to show customers they care?
Here are 3 ways small businesses are tweaking the customer experience to meet the safety and emotional needs of their customers. The companies doing this best will form strong bonds with their customers during this period of time. This in turn can help ensure the long-term commercial success of any venture. In fact, a customer-focused mentality can be a critical risk management tool right now, as important as small business insurance.
Businesses that engage with their customers in-person must clearly take steps to minimize the spread of the virus and protect against liability claims. But going above and beyond in this regard will show customers that you prioritize their safety. Making hand sanitizer readily available to customers, implementing one-way systems in tight aisles, moving to contactless payments and installing plexiglass barriers at the till are a few ways to reduce the physical spread of the virus.
Beyond this, local businesses like shops can offer free contactless delivery to customers wary of venturing out, such as the elderly or those with underlying health conditions.
Small businesses without a strong online presence have an opportunity now, too, to help customers shop without needing to physically go to the shops. Bricks and mortar shops can build e-commerce websites in no time at all via sites such as Shopify or Wix, platforms where businesses can create an online store, add product photos and descriptions, manage inventory, take payments, organise shipping and more.
Many people isolating during the pandemic live alone. While a small business can aim to support all of their customers during these trying times, customer outreach can have a particularly beneficial impact on customers that miss their friends and family and are feeling quite lonely.
Small businesses can reach out to customers with frequent emails or social media posts that send messages of unity. Communications can ask how customers are coping and provide regular updates on how the business is managing. Letting customers in on the changes taking place within an organisation is a way to strengthen the bond between customer and business.
Small businesses can also demonstrate support for their local communities by donating to local charities, especially those engaged in helping members of society particularly affected by the lockdown.
While shops can obviously sell hand sanitizer and masks, there are many other ways all types of small businesses can adapt their product lines to keep business flowing. The best ideas will bring some joy into customers’ lives.
For example, florists could sell wreath-making kits and offer Zoom classes on wreath making ahead of the holidays, or sell small lockdown bouquets for people to buy online and send to loved ones who are lonely. Life or career coaches can offer discounted online sessions with a particular focus on providing uplifting advice. Garden designers can offer a raffle to provide free drawings for post-Covid spring plantings for one lucky customer, and can share these drawings online. Pilates teachers have moved to Zoom classes. Massage therapists can run online sessions showing people how to massage their shoulders and necks at home themselves, or with a partner. Cafes are setting up takeaway stands. The ideas are endless.
Small businesses across the board are finding creative ways to stay engaged with customers whilst serving the emotional needs and addressing the safety concerns of their clientele. We suspect the small businesses doing this best will have much higher odds of not just surviving the current measures, but emerging in a position of strength. These businesses say, “We’re in this together”.