Business communication during a pandemic
The last few weeks have upended our lives and the way we do business. We've learned how to remote work and come together as a community. And during this time, our members and their businesses are at the top of our minds. As difficult as trying to keep up on normal business practices currently is, there are some ways to communicate to your customers and the public during a pandemic and navigate this "new normal."
Make sure you inform your customers of any changes to your business hours. Are you open normal hours or closed? Have you shortened your business day or closed certain days of the week? Make sure this information is easily accessible and available to your customers. This can be done on your website, through social media, in a print ad or even with just a sign on your door. The more avenues you use to publicize your business hour alterations, the better chance you have of keeping everyone informed.
The use of digital media has proved to be extremely useful during this pandemic. Take this time to update your website. If you are offering delivery, curbside or takeout let it be known. Set up an online store, or post what your business has for sale. And make sure you are using social media. It has proven to be one of the most effective tools for real time updates and sharing content. And it provides the opportunity to be shared amongst your community members.
If your business is going above and beyond during this unprecedented time, take a moment to share with your customers how you are helping. Are you delivering to those who are home bound? Are you partnering with a non-profit? Are you donating proceeds to another local business that is struggling? If so, make sure to share any collaboration or goodwill efforts that your business is participating in.
Communicate with your customers what your business is doing to be safe during the pandemic. Let them know what procedures are in place in regard to the cleaning and sterilization of your business. Be cognitive of social distancing precautions and hold to them. If you have access to supplies, have hand sanitizer, gloves and masks available to customers who prefer extra protection.
It's also important to think outside of the box during a time when customers are staying in and your business may be having less foot traffic. Find a way to continue to engage your customers and community. If you have the technology, offer online classes or webinars. Give a virtual tour of your business along with a behind-the-scenes view many don't see. Set up virtual happy hours, which is rather simple and free with apps like Zoom, Skype and Facebook.
Most importantly, it is during this time of social isolation that you should be keeping in contact with not only your regular customers, but also your staff. Reach out to see if they have any needs, and to simply check in to hear how they are doing. If you are part of a business that is now working remotely, realize that employees who are accustomed to working in office may feel cut off from information or relationships that were a part of their normal workday. Plan daily conference calls and know it's perfectly acceptable to include socializing into the timeframe; in fact, it may be vital for people who need lots of interaction to keep their energy up.
Your staff needs to hear from, especially as economic fears worsen, to maintain their trust in leadership. Keep the lines of communication open, honest and broad. Make it easy for your staff to know your thoughts and contribute their own. And understand the impact that a simple phone call to check in can have on one's day.
We believe in the strength of our Crook County businesses and are here for you. We know will persevere through these challenging times. We have overcome adversity in the past, and we will do so again. And know that that the Prineville – Crook County Chamber will be with you every step of the way.
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