While social isolation is good for overall health, it is bad for small businesses. Pedestrian traffic has fallen sharply since the coronavirus outbreak as customers choose to stay at home and self-quarantine. Many business owners worry that COVID-19 will have a more significant and lasting impact than expected. As a result, stores everywhere are scrambling to find strategies to support their customers during the coronavirus shutdown. Here are some guidelines for engaging your employees and customers remotely.
Make a strategy
As the coronavirus spreads, more and more organizations are implementing safety precautions to protect their operations and employees. Creating or revising an emergency preparedness plan is an important precaution that many business owners take. If you haven’t strategized yet, it’s time to get moving!
An emergency plan doesn’t just describe the actions your company will take in the event of an outbreak that affects your business. It also outlines the precautions you take to protect your employees and your business from the pandemic.
Make sure to add the following details to your plan:
Measures to protect your employees.
What to do if there is an outbreak in your company?
How employees can contact you in an emergency?
What happens to your business if it gets infected?
Communicate proactively with your users.
The situation changes rapidly and no one knows what news will be delivered each day. Customers can empathize with companies in crisis if they communicate effectively. Notify your customers when you close the door, change hours, or take other steps to keep your staff and work environment safe and clean. Notify your customers via social media, email, and your website when your store is closed. Describe the efforts you are making to reduce risk by keeping your business open.
Offer customers a way to stay engaged, while also educating them about the mechanics of your approach. Customers who spend more time at home still have to shop. Drive customers to your e-commerce store, take orders through social media and expect more visitors to visit your website than in the previous few months.
If possible, implement a work-from-home policy
If you don’t have a work-from-home policy or strategy, now is the time to implement one. Businesses are creating alternative work environments to protect employees from entering the office and avoiding exposure to the coronavirus statewide. You may have experimented with allowing employees to work from home in the past. Or maybe this is a new game for your business.
Depending on your industry and business, you may not be allowed to allow employees to work from home. Maybe you’re short on extra equipment or can’t afford it. Alternatively, staff may be required to make personal contact with consumers as part of their job (eg nurses).
Consider adopting a work-from-home policy if possible. Add policies such as employee permissions, remote processes, and policies. Include temporary teleworking restrictions in your policy as well.
Stream your service
Go digital with your services to continue to provide access to your customers who are sitting at home and looking to help your business. Tutors, personal trainers, and even therapists offer their services online. Use free technologies like Google Hangouts, Skype, or Zoom to provide your services remotely.
If you’re in a vertical service that isn’t suitable for live video, try creating a Vimeo channel where customers pay for movies with frequently requested information. Vimeo uses a paywall to charge people for access to your content. For example, an accountant could create a video showing how to file a tax return (using a free service like Loom to capture their screen) and send it to their email list. Salon owners can post videos showing touches at home for clients to color their hair. You may not be able to charge as much as you would like for your regular service, but it helps with cash flow in the meantime.
Rethink your cleaning methods
The following points may seem obvious, but they cannot be ignored. That’s right guys, you need to clean your workplace thoroughly during this coronavirus fight.
So how often does your company clean? How about twice a week? Daily? Seldom? Whatever your answer, now is the time to increase your company’s cleaning frequency.
Think about how you can improve your cleaning process to protect your business. Consider doing some (or all) of the following to keep your business clean:
Increase the cleaning frequency of your business.
Provide anti-coronavirus soap, hand sanitizer, and hand sanitizer for the workplace.
Require employees to clean their workspace every day.
Ask sick employees not to enter the workplace.
Encourage staff members to do their hands more frequently.
If you keep your workplace clean, your employees can rest assured that they are working in a safe environment. Not to mention, your employees will appreciate your extra effort to keep them healthy.