Your storefront has been closed for months, but it’s finally time to get back to business. You’ve sanitized the building, developed your safety protocols, and trained employees on new procedures. But there’s one more thing you need to do to ensure reopening goes smoothly: Communicate with customers about your COVID-19 response.
In this article, we’ll show you how to develop a reopening communication strategy and how to implement it across your customer channels.
Developing your reopening communication and messaging strategy
Before blasting out emails or posting on social media about your reopening, it’s a good idea to develop a strategy that has clear goals, style guidelines, and an appropriate voice for the situation.
Set goals for what you want to achieve
Any strategy first requires clarity about desired outcomes. These might include reassuring customers about safety, educating employees and customers on new safety measures related to COVID-19, managing expectations on reopening times, and communicating information such as operating hours and product availability.
Keep style and tone appropriate
This is a highly uncertain and stressful time for almost everyone, so it’s important that your tone and style be appropriate for the situation. While every brand voice is different and it’s fine to use yours, taking a sincere and straightforward approach will help win the confidence and trust of your customers.
Providing some incentives to bring customers back is totally fine, but focus on being helpful, not salesy. Keep your communications warm and friendly, clear and simple. Focus on reassuring customers that business will go on, even if a little differently than before. Take this opportunity to reassure your customers, show them your appreciation, and build deeper relationships with them.
Be proactive and transparent
The best way to reassure your customers is to be consistent and transparent in your communications. Demonstrate that you’re stable, available, and doing your best to ensure their safety. It often takes repetition for customers to remember (and believe) your messaging, so keep reinforcing the basic points you want to get across.
Also, customers will undoubtedly have a lot of questions about what’s changing. Try to anticipate them, and answer as many as you can in an attempt to be upfront in your communications.
Implementing your reopening communications across channels
Once you have a strategy in mind, implement it by updating your online presence and using your marketing and customer communication channels to make your reopening announcement.
Create a dedicated COVID-19 update page on your website; it could be a new page on your site or simply a blog post. This page should include all reopening information, an FAQ section, and information about safety precautions and customer experience. If you can, walk customers through the new customer experience and let them know what they need to do differently, such as wearing their own mask and completing a screening checklist. Update this page regularly.
It’s also a good idea to summarize the most relevant information, such as the reopening date, operating hours, and a link to the full COVID-19 page on your homepage. You can do this with a banner, a popup, a graphic link, or whatever fits best on your site. If you use a chat box on your website, set an automated message with the most important information.
Update your social media channels so customers can easily find the information they need. Edit your bios, and pin posts to Facebook and Twitter with current reopening information and a link to your website for visitors to learn more.
Focus your posts on reassuring customers and providing them with information about how things are changing. Create a series of posts that communicate your reopening information. Frequent updates will keep your customers engaged and show them you are well-organized and ready for reopening.
Be prepared to engage people in the comments and answer their questions. If there are questions you haven’t thought of, consider adding these to your FAQ page.
Once your website has been updated, send an email to your email list to announce your reopening. The announcement can be simple, but be sure to communicate the basics of your reopening, reassure your customers and express gratitude toward them, and then direct them to your website for more information.
You may also want to include an incentive to encourage customers to return, such as a special offer. (However, during this time it’s best to avoid being overly promotional, which may turn customers off.)
If you actively use email marketing, you may want to create an email series to provide regular updates on each phase of reopening and what customers can expect. Use the opportunity to deepen your relationship with your customers by being transparent.
Aside from your website and social media accounts, update any other online channels where your business information lives, such as a Yelp or Google My Business listing. If you use text messaging, direct mail, print, or any other marketing channels, reiterate your messaging there as well. Provide guidance and information to any employees engaged in customer service, whether in-person, through the web, or over the phone.
Don’t forget your physical location as well. Depending on your business, onsite signage could be a crucial part of your communication strategy. This could involve both brand messaging and instructions on how to behave onsite in accordance with new safety protocols.
Inviting feedback from customers
Your reopening communication strategy should be a two-way street. Encourage, listen, and act on feedback from customers and employees.
One of the easiest ways to solicit feedback is with a form. Using the Jotform Form Builder, you can create custom feedback forms and surveys, as well as access hundreds of free, ready-to-use templates. Use negative feedback to adjust and improve your customer experience, and share positive feedback to show that your new customer experience is safe and enjoyable.
Once you’ve shared your reopening plans, continue providing updates and maintaining transparent and consistent communication with customers and employees. Stay flexible, be ready to adapt, and keep your customers informed. They’ll appreciate your commitment to safety, especially in the midst of these new challenges.