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Updated: Jul 3, 2020
While restrictions vary by location, many states have given non-essential businesses the green light to begin reopening their doors to customers following mandatory shutdowns and shelter-in-place orders. During this unprecedented time, businesses everywhere had to adapt. Some had to change their operations to enable pickup or delivery, others had to adopt safety measures that allowed both customers and employees to maintain social distance, and many were forced to close their doors for a portion of time.
If your business is allowed to reopen, you already know that things are different now. Given the uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic, things will be different for the foreseeable future. The term “new normal” is being used to describe the new circumstances we’ll all face, but even still, those circumstances can shift daily as we learn more and official guidance changes.
One thing that remains the same for you, though, as a local business, is the importance of staying in touch with your loyal customers. What is the best way to communicate with customers in this new normal? Read on for our tips.
If you’ve had to adjust your business hours, shift your operations online or to pickup only, start offering different products or services, or more, let your customers know by posting signage on the outside of your brick and mortar location that highlights your updates. Now that restrictions are lifting, your customers are more likely to be out and about and may try to stop by. Fully reopened? A big, bright sign that says “OPEN” will catch the eye of customers and let them know that they can visit you again.
In addition to a prominent “OPEN” sign and any updates to your hours or operations, information about safety and what you’re doing to keep both employees and customers safe is top-of-mind for everyone. If you require masks, are limiting the number of people inside your business, or offer contactless pay or delivery, make sure customers can find this information. A sign that outlines the steps you’re taking to keep everyone safe can answer questions and alleviate any concerns before anyone steps foot inside your business.
If customers are interested in taking advantage of your services or buying your products, make it as easy as possible for them to do so. Now, in this new normal, you want to make it even easier, since customers may still be hesitant to shop and dine in-person for risk of COVID-19 transmission. Your customers need to be able to easily find accurate, up-to-date information about your business.
While it will take some effort from you, managing your online presence will pay off – communicate with customers so they know when and how they can utilize your business.
For starters, make sure your website is always updated with your latest offerings and operations. You don’t want customers to be disappointed to discover that your restaurant closed early when they stopped by to order takeout, for example. Your website should serve as the source of truth for your business and should be where you link to in any social media posts or emails.
Use Nextdoor to promote any changes or updates to your business hours, share pictures of new products, or highlight the safety measures your business is taking to local customers, your neighbors.
Lastly, don’t forget about email as a tool to communicate with customers. If you have collected email addresses, proactively reach out to your contacts to stay connected. As mentioned earlier, updates can be about your business, but don’t be afraid to infuse some levity. Everyone could use a laugh right now.
Business Pages on Nextdoor are free and enable small local businesses to connect with real, verified members immediately. Share your relevant business information, like hours, address, and offerings, and grow your word-of-mouth reputation with recommendations from neighbors. Once a neighbor leaves you a recommendation, your business becomes discoverable to local neighbors when they’re looking for your products or services.
Neighbors are having conversations on Nextdoor about how to support local businesses in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. In fact, 72% of members believe they will frequent local businesses more often after this crisis. As a local business, you want to be part of those conversations on Nextdoor.
Business Posts enable businesses to have a two-way dialogue with neighbors right in their neighborhood. Share important business updates – your updated hours and operations, initiatives you’re taking on to support the community, and ideas for how neighbors can support your business – and answer questions with the people who live in the neighborhoods closest to your business.
As you reopen your business and settle into your “new normal” one day at a time, keep your loyal customers at the forefront of your plans. These customers, likely your neighbors, supported you before the coronavirus pandemic, and they want to be there for you now. Stay connected, in touch, and continue to communicate with customers on an ongoing basis.
Claim your free Business Page to get started on Nextdoor. For resources on how to use Nextdoor to stay connected with your local customers, pertinent news affecting businesses, and more, follow us at @nextdoorbusiness on Facebook.
Danielle Styskal is a lead editor of Nextdoor's Business Blog, focused on providing marketing tips and product education to help local businesses thrive.