Amy Watton

Communicating with customers during coronavirus

May 20, 2020

As we move towards an easing of the lockdown restrictions, businesses need to make sure their communications are purposeful and relevant. Whether you sell products or provide professional services, here are some handy tips.

1. Update hours of business

Google will often be a user's first port of call for contact details and opening times using search, which means you should create a Google My Business listing and keep it up to date. This is the search engine's free business listing directory, which displays information about a business next to details of its location.

You'll see this if you've ever Googled a business in your area, e.g. 'solictors in Lerwick'. A list of them will appear at the top of Google's search rankings, with the addresses and map locations of each solicitors and their distance from you.

This is a free resource and one that every business should take advantage of. It's a great way for potential customers or clients to find you through Google.

Likewise, if you have a Facebook page, log-in and check the information on your About page is up to date. Even if your reduced opening hours are only temporary, it's worth keeping them up to date so customers know when you're open. Do the same on your website.

Living Lerwick, the BID organisation in Shetland, has produced a handy pack of free resources for businesses affected by Covid-19. This includes editable posters for business premises, updating customers of opening times and other important information.

2. Keep customers informed

When coronavirus first hit, businesses had to act quickly to adapt. Many of our clients such as Shetland Reel Gin, Swannay Brewery and Jollys of Orkney quickly switched their focus to mail order and kept customers up to date on social media and via email. Website homepage were also updated to reflect their current business status.

Likewise, our professional services clients like Scholes Chartered Accountants and Harper Macleod swiftly created useful content to help guide customers through the coronavirus situation and the things they could do to safeguard their businesses and properties.

As the situation continues to evolve, the way you run your business will continue to change too. Keep customers informed by sending an email to your mailing list or posting regularly on social media.

Customers will appreciate you getting in touch, even if the news is difficult. Regular communications will keep your audience engaged and drive brand loyalty.

3. Take stock

Coronavirus has disrupted many business supply chains. You might have a bottleneck of orders or regular products that are no longer available. Ensure your website is up to date and suggest alternatives for products that are out of stock. You can also set up a 'notify me' function to email alert customers when items are back in stock.

Orkney jewellery designers Ola Gorie had to adapt the messaging on their website because the hallmark registrar temporarily closed in Edinburgh, meaning no new jewellery could be sold. Out of stock products are still displayed for SEO purposes but the 'buy' button was removed on unavailable items.

Also think about shipping and be transparent with customers about delivery times. If there's going to be a delay, let customers know at point of sale, rather than after they've made a purchase.

4. Offer customer perks

With many shops still closed, retailers are focusing their operations online. Entice new customers with offers like free shipping and postage, or a discount when they spend over a certain amount. Our client Orkney Distilling for example is offering free shipping on all UK orders.

Another great way to engage with a wider audience is to run an online promotion or giveaway. Ola Gorie is running a sale with 20% off everything, while Shetland Reel have launched a competition asking people to create their own gin bottle jackets.

5. Focus your messaging

No one knows when things will return to 'normal'. Bear this in mind when you're sending out communications. You don't need to mention coronavirus in every blog or email but don't be flippant or blasé, either. A lot of people and businesses are struggling. Keep messaging relevant to your business and what you can do for customers. Avoid political opinions or speculation, if possible.

When times are busy and you're running a small team, it can be easy for communications to slip off the list. But, by following these simple tips you can maintain customer engagement and hopefully attract a new audience to your business, too.

At NB, our content team can help you plan and deliver your customer communications. Find out more by getting in touch.

May 20, 2020

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