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COVID19: STAYING IN TOUCH WITH CUSTOMERS DURING THE PANDEMIC

This is an uncertain time for South African business owners, but it may offer an opportunity to focus on the factors that are within your control to help steer your way through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Here are some ideas about how businesses can stay in touch with customers during the national lockdown and this time of social distancing.

Many companies have been working to keep people up to date with what they’re doing in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. You’ll want to consider keeping in touch with your customers too, to keep them informed about what your business is doing during this challenging time.

Some messages you might want to post on your website, include a blog article, or an email to customers including:
1. Thanking them for their support.
2. Explain what your business is doing now and how it might affect them.
3. Detail the changes you’re making to your website or to your products and services.
4. Share updated refund and cancellation policies, if available.
5. Update ways on how to get in touch with you.
6. Reassure them that we’re all in this together.

Make it easy for customers to contact you

Here are a few measures you can take:
1. Display your contact information prominently on your website.
2. Ensure your contact information is up to date on an online business listing like Google My Business.
3. Make sure to include up-to-date contact information in all email correspondence to your customers.
4. Let customers, as well as other business owners, know you’re active on social media to connect with you and drop you a message. Include links to your social profiles in emails, blog posts, etc.
5. Consider using additional online tools like Facebook Messenger, to let customers know that you’re available during certain hours.

While most businesses are modifying their marketing during this time, customers may still appreciate some well-thought-out content. You can provide useful how-to’s or case studies to help them in your field of expertise. Some ideas:
1. A blog post on “How You Can Do Indoor Exercise During the COVID-19 Shutdown? (for a personal trainer or gym),” or “What We’re Doing During the COVID-19 Shutdown.” (for a retailer selling products and is open during the shutdown).
2. Videos are also a great place to tell stories, not just relate lists of information. Also, consider doing some video interviews with colleagues.
3. Consider starting an audio podcast to share your expertise on topics close to your business. Record them with a basic voice recorder app on your phone, or use a programme on your laptop like Audacity and GarageBand.
4. Webinars are a great way to educate people about your company’s offering and to share knowledge. You can organize a webinar and invite your customers to join at a certain time. For example, a great option to consider is ZOOM.
5. Social media is one way many of us are coping with social distancing. Connect with your customers on social media to give them real-time updates on how you and your business are handling COVID-19. You can build community through asking and answering questions.

We are all in this together, so your customers will appreciate anything you can do to help bolster a sense of solidarity. Emails you send to your customers should address the crisis clearly. In these messages, you can:
1. Share how you think the pandemic is impacting South Africa and your company.
2. Discuss how you are thinking and what you’re doing differently in its wake.
3. Be upfront about what you plan to do for your customers during this challenging time.
4. Discuss how COVID-19 might temporarily or permanently impact your ability to serve your customers, as may be relevant.

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