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How Small Businesses Can Connect with Local Customers During Coronavirus

March 20, 2020 • Covid-19 Resources • Written by Amy Lee
Small business owner devises plan to keep in touch with customers during coronavirus

How Small Businesses Can Stay Connected with Local Customers During the Coronavirus Pandemic

The Nextdoor community is here to do what we can to support you, your staff, and all those who may be affected by the disruptions to your business caused by the spread of Covid-19. That’s especially true for businesses with storefronts that have been mandated to reduce hours, pause services, or temporarily close.

While your customers are keeping their social distance and many are staying at home right now, one thing is clear: Neighbors still want to support local businesses like yours. 

Here are 4 things you can do to reach out to them today:

 

1. Communicate the actions you’re taking to keep your business, employees, and customers safe.

Send an email to your customers and post signage in your store sharing what steps you’re taking to prevent Covid-19 using business guidelines by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The U.S. Chamber of Commerce also suggests keeping customers in the loop on any changes in business hours and has also developed a free Coronavirus Response toolkit with important information and customer message examples to share.

2. Use social media as a communication tool to keep in touch with customers.

Staying connected to customers is pivotal to keeping them aware of changes to your daily business operations. Use social media and email as immediate and cost-efficient ways to share updates and service your customers, like: 

  • Setting special hours for only the elderly to shop
  • Offering curbside pickup
  • Introducing a take-out menu
  • Offering virtual fitness classes
  • Selling products exclusively online
  • Expanding delivery service
  • Offering free shipping
  • Notifying of temporary closure
  • Setting up funds for struggling staff

Philz Coffee, a San-Francisco based coffee company, shares their online communication strategy with customers: “We are obsessed with staying connected with our loyal customers,” Carolyn Frey, Chief People Officer and Marketing Lead, tells us. “We've shared links on how they can buy coffee online, we've sent regular emails with all of our store updates, and we're listening and answering questions on our social media handles. We can't wait to see everyone back in our stores soon."

 

3. Consider free digital tools and resources for remote work or services.

A recent survey by AvidXchange found that while more than 60% of businesses have a continuity plan in place, only 37% have the right technology for employees to work from home. The right digital tools can help make your operations run smoother and improve your customer service. If you are a service-based business, offer video conferencing options so your customers can get virtual “face time” with you. Many technology companies are responding to Covid-19 by offering free or extended trials to help small businesses ensure uninterrupted operations. See the Open for Business Hub list of technology products for small businesses to select what is best for your individual situation. If your small business has employees that must operate remotely, Box also has a free online resource for best practices for supporting remote work

 

4. Remind your customers they can still shop from home.

If your business has an online store, encourage online shopping. If you also offer sales orders and services by phone, make that known to customers. The Chamber of Commerce suggests offering e-gift cards as a way to boost sales during this time: “Encourage your customers to buy a certificate now, so they can treat themselves and redeem it when the virus has slowed and their self-quarantine period is over. This can help maintain sales while giving customers something to look forward to.”

If you’re looking to create a local online presence, create a free Business Page on Nextdoor where you can post important updates, information, or questions to your community's news feed or offer Local Deals, special discounts or incentives you can target to specific neighborhoods closest to you.

 

Here at Nextdoor, we’re always working to keep neighbors safe and informed — now more than ever. And that includes the local businesses that make our neighborhoods feel like home. 

For additional resources about how to help your business prepare for and manage disruptions related to Covid-19, read our Coronavirus Preparedness Tips for Local Businesses. You can also email us with additional business tips or stories to share.

 

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