Many businesses have found ways to adapt their working practices during the Covid-19 pandemic, but welcoming customers back as the economy reopens brings a whole new set of challenges. Lots of people will be nervous about starting to visit places in person again, so it’s vital you know how to ease the worries of cautious customers.
Just as companies have developed a diverse range of solutions to the problems brought by the coronavirus, people will take a wide variety of different approaches to the UK reopening. But there are some strategies likely to work well across most businesses.
What do customers want as the economy reopens?
Before you can prepare to start welcoming customers back, you need to understand their primary concerns. Management consultancy firm Bain & Company conducted research to discover consumer priorities as the economy reopens. It discovered:
- People want to develop a more balanced, healthy lifestyle
- People want to feel more connected to each other
- People are seeking out kindness and purpose
- People are becoming more mindful of their spending, drawing a line between essential and frivolous purchases
Some studies have also shown significant levels of anxiety among consumers as they prepare to return to business premises. When China began to recover from the pandemic, EY found 48 percent of consumers there thought the crisis would significantly change their way of life in the long run.
If consumers around the world share the concerns felt by Chinese people, businesses will have to work hard to reassure them. Here, we’re looking at how companies can succeed in welcoming customers back, not only safely, but empathetically.
The most significant development we’re tracking globally is the emergence of what we call the “Anxious Consumer”.
6 tips for welcoming customers back safely after the pandemic
1. Role-play a customer interaction before reopening
One of the best ways to get an idea of how people might respond to your business is to role-play a typical customer interaction. If you have a physical store, literally walk through the premises to identify any areas of concern for people who visit.
2. Use social media to gauge feelings
Social media is a great tool for understanding consumer perspectives. You don’t necessarily have to create a survey or ask direct questions; just take note of the topics and questions being raised frequently. Then, you’ll be able to think about the steps you can take to resolve these consumer concerns.
3. Consider offering price discounts
Many people will be feeling the pinch as the economy reopens, having lost jobs and spent their savings. You can support customers who might have less in their bank account than normal by launching special deals or loyalty schemes.
Remember, this is about recognising a very real consumer concern, not cashing in on the UK’s reopening, so make sure your campaigns are done with compassion and understanding.
4. Support your community
The Covid-19 pandemic prompted a shift in consumer behaviour towards community-focussed businesses and projects. This people-centric mindset is unlikely to go away as we emerge from the crisis, so try to reflect it by actively supporting those in your local area. You’ll gain not only credibility and respect, but also a huge sense of personal fulfilment for helping others.
>> Read more:
- Looking Back: Franchising Lessons We Never Expected to Learn in 2020
- Everything You Need To Know About The New Government COVID Roadmap On Covid-19
- Business Planning: Why You Should Prepare for a Profitable Summer Now
- What the 'Lockdown Exit Roadmap' Means for Your Franchise With One Month to Go
- 7 Franchising Lessons Learned a Year Into the Pandemic
5. Prioritise flexibility
‘Flexibility’ seems to be a buzzword at the moment, as more and more businesses plan to extend their remote working policies when we put the pandemic behind us. But bosses will need to be ready to adapt in even more ways when customers return to commercial premises. Be ready to monitor the success of each measure you implement, and change your focus if necessary.
6. Organise a grand reopening
Businesses should proceed with empathy and understanding, but there’s no reason why you can’t celebrate your first day back. It’s your chance to cheer up your employees and customers, launch fun competitions and even give away free refreshments, if it’s safe to do so.
Show everyone you’re back in business, and ready to welcome them after all these months away.
Some people who previously relied on gyms may cancel their memberships in favour of digital alternatives. Increased awareness of streaming service offerings may harm theatres and out-of-home entertainment venues. Businesses should prepare to combat this shift by creating more attractive experiences that customers can’t replicate in their living rooms.
6 tips on how to ease the worries of cautious customers
While many people are excited about the prospect of the economy reopening, lots of consumers will be understandably anxious to start mixing with others again. So, here are some tips on how to welcome back uneasy customers:
1. Take things slow
Even if you’re technically allowed to fill your premises full of people again, it might be worth holding back for a few weeks. By gradually building up to full capacity, you give customers a chance to visit you and feel comfortable easing back into life after lockdown.
2. Extend your safety practices
Even when the government relaxes its safety rules, there’s nothing stopping you extending your hygiene measures.
Retailers could limit numbers in their stores, restaurants might space out tables and cinemas could allow for smaller audiences in the early days of the UK reopening. Continuing to sanitise the environment, providing antibacterial gel and using contactless payment systems will also help to reassure customers.
>> Read more:
- What is the Marketing Fee and Why is it Necessary?
- Developing an effective franchise marketing plan
- Try Out These 8 Outside-the-Box Marketing Ideas to Grow Your Business and Engage Your Customers
- 10 Tips for Building Truly Effective Social Media Marketing Campaigns
- Franchising 101: 8 Essential Marketing Strategies for Promoting Your Business
- Franchising 101: 6 Tips for Building Customer Loyalty Through Marketing
3. Extend your opening hours
If you operate from a physical property, why not extend your opening hours to give people a chance to visit at quieter times? You could even support elderly and vulnerable people by reserving a particular time of day specifically for their demographic, or providing delivery services for them.
4. Launch video call services
If you’ve been forced to stop welcoming consumers onto your premises, you may have already set up video call services. But whether or not you’ve been talking to customers online, consider this approach as a way to engage your following as we emerge from the pandemic. Many people might prefer to use your services online, even when they’re allowed to visit in person.
5. Tell customers what you’re doing
You can reassure customers about their safety by providing details about how you’re responding to the UK reopening. Use website messages, blog posts, emails and social media content to let people know your plan for the weeks ahead. Explain that your staff will continue to wear PPE for as long as they’re required to, what customers will need to do on site and what will happen if someone disregards the rules.
6. Make it easy for customers to find information and contact you
Not being able to find a company’s contact information can be frustrating at the best of times, so make sure you’re easily reachable as we exit the pandemic. Check your website address, physical address and opening hours are listed correctly on Google.
Also, clearly display your email address, telephone number and other contact details on your website and social media pages.
More advice on running your own business
You can find more guidance on all aspects of running a business, including welcoming customers back after the pandemic, right here at Point Franchise. Just use the search box to find the advice you need.
Alice Tuffery, Point Franchise ©