How COVID-19 Will Change How You Run Your Business
Written by Coral C
The COVID-19 pandemic has severely impacted small businesses and their regular processes. This has forced companies worldwide to rapidly shift how they carry out their daily operations.
With the implementation of social distancing and mandated closures forcing customers to remain at home for the time being, small businesses have taken a particularly hard hit. A reported two thirds of SMBs have reported being impacted by COVID-19, with 59% of respondents seeing moderate to extreme downturns in customer bookings.
As such, small businesses in various different sectors have been pushed to explore new marketing tactics, adopt new technologies, pivot their services to online applications or review plans to significantly increase their adherence to health and safety practices.
We know these sudden changes to regular operations have left many business owners overwhelmed with which actions to take next. However, for companies that want to stay ahead of the curve, this means that the call to action is now.
SMBs are required to act quickly as our society adjusts to a temporary “new normal” once doors are ready to open again. These changes to our familiarity have been sudden and unprecedented, setting a template for how we must continue to respond in the coming months.
Here, we’ve provided some ideas to help small businesses navigate through the changes in their marketplace and make their operations more safe and secure in a post-COVID climate.
Implement rigorous sanitization
To mitigate the risk of exposure to COVID-19, you’ll want your business to increase its performance of regular health and safety practices. While this may add some extra work to your new timetable, it’s one of the best ways to ensure safety in the workplace and offer your customers peace of mind once your doors reopen.
Steps your staff can take to make processes more sanitary may include (but are not limited to):
Both parties wearing gloves and/or a face mask during consultations, meetings or regular services (wherever needed)
Sanitizing any required equipment, both before and after use
Thoroughly disinfecting any areas worked-in, both before and after an appointment or consultation
Ensuring that hand sanitizer and cleaning supplies are on-hand at all times
Offering digital check-in options to limit the amount of contact between parties
For additional details on how you can make your business operations more COVIDsafe, please refer to our Industry Checklists.
Adopt contactless transactions
The ongoing implications of social distancing have hastened the prospects of reducing business-to-customer interactions — particularly when there is an exchange of goods and services.
This means that wherever possible, it will be in the best interest of your business to implement contactless processes to mitigate the risk of contact with an infected individual.
Contactless delivery and curbside pickup are two great alternatives to delivering goods to a customer’s home. Since the start of the pandemic, popular food delivery platforms such as UberEats and DoorDash have adopted contactless delivery as part of their regular protocol.
This can be carried out by knocking on a customer’s door, calling them or sending them a message to notify them that you have arrived at their location. Whether this requires you to then enter a customer’s home to carry out a service call or if your mission is just to deliver an item, keeping these types of exchanges contactless is a great way to limit the potential risk of infection.
Contactless payment systems are also becoming the “new normal” way to safely process transactions. A recent study by Mastercard Contactless Consumer Polling reports that 51% of Americans say that they have reduced their use of cash since the outbreak began.
The two most popular types of contactless payments are online invoicing and payment processing via mobile wallets. Both of these methods not only reduce the risk of infection through human contact, but they are also far more expedient and reliable than in-person payment methods. It's important to remember that making your processes more efficient is always bound to make your customers happy in the long run.
Communicate through video
Offering check-ins, meetings and consultations via web conference communication is another effective way to "meet" with customers while keeping the risk of spreading COVID-19 at a bare minimum. In today's digitized world, appointments, meetings or service calls don't have to be put to the wayside and customers don't have to be left hanging if they aren't able to consult their favourite services in-person.
If you're a plumbing company, you can perform a service call via video chat and allow your customer to show you their leaky toilet through their phone lens. Or if you're a dentist, you can perform a preliminary examination of your patient's teeth. Customer inquiries can still feel like they're being answered "face-to-face" when done over a conference call.
There are several platforms that allow both businesses and customers to engage remotely. Some popular options include Zoom, Skype, FaceTime, Google Hangouts and Facebook Messenger (to name a few).
Ramp up your customer engagement
In lieu of actually getting to schedule appointments with your customers and speak to them in-person, it’s become more important than ever before to stay connected with your clients and go the extra mile to nurture your customer relationships.
Due to social distancing measures that may continue to be in place, your lines of communication will need to be pivoted towards online channels. This includes your company website, social media profiles and, of course, online messaging and email.
Posting regular updates on your public channels is a great way to keep your customers engaged and your business top of mind. While you may need to put some extra effort into creating touchpoints with your customers, this is the perfect way to not only keep them posted about your business updates and offerings, but to also maintain loyalty with your customer base. When you're ready to open your doors again, this will help bring them to the front of your queue.
If you are changing your regular processes to increase safety measures at your office, clinic or practice, using public channels to let your customers know about these changes is a perfect way to transition back into business once you’re ready to open your doors again. Their health and safety should be your number-one concern — and you’ll want to make sure they know this.
Always expect the unexpected
The unprecedented changes presented by COVID-19 have taught us all an important lesson: that being too comfortable or attached to a certain set of ideas won’t do us any good if there is a radical shift in the global economy.
By embracing a culture of adaptability, your business can pivot towards a new strategy in the case that something forces it to change gears. This could mean changing your product offerings or coming up with a new sales script.
It’s crucial to remain agile and ready to adjust your value proposition as the “new normal” unfolds and consumer behaviour continues to transform. Some ways to do this are to analyze trends or use surveys as a means of collecting feedback and needs-based sentiments from your customers. If you are looking to implement a new business regimen that is both safe and secure for your customers, any feedback about their concerns will be highly instrumental in helping you put the best COVID-safe processes in place.
COVID-19 has influenced the welfare of small businesses from coast-to-coast, which means that as the social and economical effects of the pandemic continue to unfold, how you run your business may continue to evolve as well. Staying up-to-date with details and being receptive to change is the best way to ensure you are running your business safely and effectively in a post-COVID climate.
Not sure which safety protocols to follow for your specific industry? Be sure to look over our Industry Checklists to see which government-recommended guidelines are being advised for your industry.
From our team at COVIDsafe, we wish all small businesses the very best of luck in getting back to business!