The COVID-19 pandemic affected businesses all across the country with thousands of companies reporting closure resulting in far-reaching economic impact.
Some, like the supply chain interruptions, we only now are beginning to face. It has undeniably been challenging.
The words “adapt” and “pivot” have now defined this time. The world has changed, and business operations must respond.
Remember that customers also have been through a lot and expect businesses to understand their evolving priorities.
Re-evaluate your space
The world may never go back to overly crowded spaces and packed offices.
Many businesses have had to re-evaluate their environment.
It’s essential to keep your employees and customers safe and happy and that includes minimizing crowding as much as possible.
Using the outdoors will allow you to increase your maximum capacity and help customers feel comfortable by minimizing exposure.
There’s an opportunity to spin these new protocols into a positive customer experience.
No matter if you’re a restaurant, a retail shop or a nail salon, strive to personalize service, an approach that can lead to increased customer loyalty and higher conversions.
Engage and communicate
Be sure to keep the lines of communication open.
Outline safety measures and share this information on the premises, your website and social media. Customers will want to know what specific efforts you are taking to ensure that you are prioritizing their safety.
In addition, those lines of communication shouldn’t just be one-way — make sure that you are available to answer questions, respond to comments on social media and answer phones.
Customers don’t want to be surprised about whether you are open or if the hours have changed. Consider this opportunity to offer discounts and/or incentives to get more people through the door.
The pandemic brought on a boom of takeout, pick up and delivery services.
In the first several months of the crisis, online grocery sales grew by more than 300 percent while food delivery apps saw their business double.
Other industries, such as therapy, health services and fitness classes, went virtual to connect with their customers.
Customers want the fast, easy option that fits their schedule. The pandemic sped up this desire and now it is here to stay.
Analyze your operations to see where you can offer convenience.
Simplifying the customer experience will keep you ahead of your competition and help increase customer loyalty to your brand.
The pandemic has changed how customers shop and what they prioritize.
More than anything else, people want safety and convenience.
And despite many Americans struggling financially through the pandemic, people will pay a premium for businesses that are flexible and serve their needs.
Keep an eye out for what your client base wants — your business can thrive if you anticipate your customers’ needs.
Encourage feedback so you can make sure you’re meeting expectations as you reopen.
Be ready to adapt processes quickly to provide the best possible experience for your customers.
Bobby Hansen is regional director for the Better Business Bureau Cedar Rapids office; (319) 365-1190.