No one likes receiving mixed messages. Especially not your customers. And especially not during a global pandemic.
In Iowa, where most COVID-related restrictions have already been lifted, a good chunk of stores, restaurants and service-oriented businesses have reopened in person. Some have reduced their hours or seating capacity. Some require face masks and have added hand sanitizing stations. While others seem—almost—like it’s back to business as usual.
It's hard to tell what's normal these days, and most of us aren't sure what to expect when we walk into a business we haven't been to in months. During the first stretch of scattered re-openings, consumer experiences were all over the board. And to a large extent—they still are.
People have been flexible and forgiving as businesses work to wrap their heads around what works and what doesn't. But they’re eager for a sense of consistency. And they just want to know what’s happening.
Your customers have questions. Are you ready to respond?
To give you a boost of confidence as you interact with customers across your various social platforms, we asked Matt and Taylor from our Digital Team for some practical advice on answering customer questions and communicating important information with them.
Q: With businesses re-opening—often under new and sometimes unpredictable hours—what’s the best way to keep customers updated on when you’re open?
Update your hours anywhere you can, prioritizing your Google listing. Consider including your hours in your phone greeting or hold message as well. Any time your hours are adjusted, it helps to create a checklist of channels where you'll need to make updates.
When it comes to your website, place a banner at the top of your home page or use a pop-up so customers can find the information they want without having to scroll and click around—this is especially true when the information is simple and direct, like your hours. On Facebook, try updating your cover photo with your updated hours while still maintaining your branding.
Q: How are your clients keeping customers posted on safety practices?
By keeping their safety precautions at the forefront of ALL their channels—websites, blogs, social media, email, etc. Consumers continue to receive a flood of business communications, but keeping engaged customers regularly updated with adjustments to your process will help make their experience as smooth and efficient as possible.
We've created landing pages for a number of clients, which go into some depth about their specific practices. Then we use tactics like website pop-ups, social posts and email newsletters to link to the full set of precautions listed on the landing page. This way we can update the landing page regularly without having to update things across a dozen locations.
Q: Things are happening and people have questions. What are some DOs and DON'Ts for responding to customer queries and comments on social media?
DO – Be upfront with customers if there are waiting lists for appointments, shipping delays or other hold-ups that may impact service. Communicating these things from the get-go will help mitigate any frustration or confusion down the line.
DON'T – Lose your cool 😎. Tensions are high right now for everyone, and if a customer is upset, you’re probably not the root cause of it. Exercise patience with customers on social media and help them find the information they need as best you can. Be transparent in what you’re able to do and thank them for their support. Even a cheery “hello” can help make someone’s day!
Q: The age of COVID has proved that no brand can exist in their own little bubble—that we’re all in this together. How can companies show their commitment to their community in a way that’s genuine?
Don’t make it all about you. Share other businesses' posts, highlight partnerships and don't be afraid to recommend other businesses that fall outside of your service area to better address a customer's needs. Take part in local campaigns to raise awareness or support, and highlight the little things you're able to do for the community, even if they are a bit unconventional. (Take Zappos, for instance, who encouraged its customer support staff to help ease pandemic worries by making small talk with customers.)
Do something that’s helpful to the community. It can be easy to adopt a highway and pick up trash with your employees, but try and choose something that fits the unique skill set of your business and employees. If things are slow right now, consider volunteering your services (or offering a discount) to people or organizations currently in need. Then take pictures and videos and figure out a strategy to post them to your social media channels in a way that calls attention to your community—not just your business.
Still feeling overwhelmed by your social media responsibilities? Get in touch with de Novo and give us the low-down on your challenges.