Businesses around the country are struggling to respond to the effects of COVID-19. Whether your operation has closed or you’re just struggling to stay relevant in the time of social distancing, communicating with customers is key. But do you know how to stay in touch with customers?
How to Stay in Touch With Customers
In all likelihood, you may need to reach out to customers in multiple ways to really get important messages across. Here are 25 tips on how to stay in touch with customers you might consider.
Send Email Updates
Probably the easiest and most direct way for many companies to stay in touch is by email. Most small businesses already have an email list where they send newsletters or updates about sales or new products. This can be a valuable way to let customers know any changes your business is making right now due to COVID-19 or any specials or updates that may be relevant to them.
Send Text Messages
If you have a small client list and want to keep everyone up to date personally, a quick text is an easy and non-invasive way to share short bursts of information. You can either reach out to people individually or send a text blast if you have customers who have signed up for text updates.
Make Phone Calls
If your business has a few important clients that you really focus on, you may want to reach out to them personally by phone. Make sure they know about any changes to your business and answer questions they may have.
Start a Video Chat
Video chat is another option that’s perfect for businesses with clients they work with regularly. This is ideal for communicating with those who you may otherwise meet with face-to-face or in instances where you may need to share visuals.
Use Chat Apps
If you need to provide virtual customer support to your customers in real time, chat apps like Facebook and WhatsApp can be very valuable. You can easily share the link to your chat profile so people can reach out to you when they have questions. Or you can send out individual messages if you have relevant updates.
Another real time option for communicating with customers, hosting a livestream allows you to broadcast video messages and interact with viewers. You might host a Q&A session, simple announcement, or some kind of demonstration to help customers during this time.
Post on Social Media
There’s a good chance your company has at least one social media account that you update regularly. This is the perfect way to not only share updates with customers but also to engage with them. Find out what they want from you during this time and build community around this shared experience.
Send Direct Mail
For local businesses or those that communicate with customers mainly offline, direct mail is still an option. Design a small flyer or write a letter that shares what your customers need to know.
Send Notes with Online or Delivery Orders
If your business ships or delivers products, use that as an opportunity to communicate. Share a handwritten or personally typed note letting them know how much you appreciate their business and include any other details they may need to know.
Create Video Content
Video can be an incredibly powerful tool for sharing complex thoughts or evoking an emotional response. There are tons of different ways you can use this tactic. You might share an honest take about what’s going on with your company on YouTube or go a more lighthearted route by sharing humorous content on TikTok.
Post in Online Forums
If there are any online forums that are relevant to your industry, posting or responding to others’ posts can help you stay connected. Just make sure to be responsive and don’t just spam people with your own updates.
Comment on Online Posts
Social media, blogging, and forum posting are two-way streets. You don’t need to create your own posts to communicate with customers. If you see other posts online that may be relevant, leave a comment.
Update Neighborhood Groups
For hyper local businesses, you may be able to reach customers in your immediate area through apps or groups like Nextdoor or your local neighborhood association’s website. This may be helpful for businesses like local restaurants that are offering delivery just within a specific radius.
Publish Blog Posts
If your website has a blog section, a simple blog post here and there can go a long way toward keeping your customers updated. This gives you a space to share long form messages, in case your company has any information to share that doesn’t fit into a tweet or Facebook post.
Start a Podcast
For those who are interested in sharing audio content with customers, a podcast could be the perfect solution. If you don’t already have one, this period where you have extra downtime may be the ideal time to get started. Or you could join another podcast as a guest and then share that episode with your online followers.
Add Live Chat to Your Website
If your business needs to answer questions or provide support to customers right on your website, a live chat feature may be the perfect solution. You can communicate back and forth without forcing your customers to ever leave your site.
Update Your Google Listing
Google is often one of the first places people go when looking for information about businesses. By updating your Google My Business Listing, you’re communicating the information that may be most relevant to your customers.
Respond to Online Reviews
Businesses should respond to online reviews on platforms like Yelp and Google regularly anyway. But since many entrepreneurs now have more time on their hands, it’s the perfect time to catch up. Thank people for sharing their thoughts and encourage even more people to do so.
Add a New Section to Your Website
When people visit your website, they’re looking for up-to-date information about your company. If things like your hours, shipping times, or availability has changed, add a short section at the top of your site so people will clearly see those changes.
Host Virtual Events
For businesses that normally host in-person events, consider hosting an online event instead. You might make a Facebook group, start a mass Zoom call, or maybe even host a Twitter chat to get everyone talking and interacting.
Work with Online Influencers
If you want to cast a wide net and communicate with lots of potential customers in a particular industry or interest area, consider influencer marketing as a communication method. You can have people with a significant following broadcast a message to their network instead of just relying on your own contacts.
Webinars are helpful for teaching new concepts or exploring complicated subjects. If you’d normally meet with groups of clients or host workshops, this is a perfect way to reach a large group of customers at once.
Offer Your Expertise to Other Outlets
If you have some insights that may be valuable to people during this time but don’t want to just rely on your own website or blog, share it with others. You can reach out to local press outlets or offer to guest blog for others in your industry.
Take Out Ads
If you have something really important to share, purchase ad space to make sure it gets seen. This can vary widely, from online ads on specific sites to ads in local print publications.
Provide Something of Value
Actions speak louder than words, especially during a time like this. Sometimes the most powerful thing you can do to really stay top of mind with customers is to provide them with something they really need or want during this time. This will look different for every business, and may not be possible for some. But for example, a carryout restaurant might offer free delivery to medical workers and first responders. Or an online business that sells virtual courses could make certain content free so people can learn a new skill while they’re sheltering in place. It may not make financial sense in the short term, but people may remember the gesture later on when they can afford to buy additional products or services.
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