As more states and counties enter their COVID-19 phased re-opening plans, it’s no secret that some consumers are ready to get back to some form of “normal.” However, there are still many safety concerns, and it’s become evident that consumers have mixed feelings and different levels of comfort when it comes to going back to their favorite stores and restaurants. At the end of the day, you must empathetically address customers from all viewpoints to maximize business as you push towards re-opening.
Having a deep knowledge of your customer base, what motivates them to be your fan, their habits, and so on have always played a huge role in a company’s success. However, in the times we are currently in, a business must also consider their guests’ feelings regarding safety.
Most people are very easily overwhelmed right now, and are far more likely to do business with brands and companies they feel confident in. That said, this public relations agency recommends surveying your customers as part of your store or restaurant re-opening strategy. This will help you get a better understanding of what you need to do to ensure people feel safe and comfortable doing business with you. The results are usually eye-opening, and we would be surprised if you don’t discover some trends! Many of our clients have found that their consumers are not ready to ease their social distancing practices yet, and that continued online availability, curbside pick-up and delivery will be key for the foreseeable future.
If you are a franchise or multi-unit business and decide to take this approach, results are likely to be different from market to market. As such, we recommend deploying surveys at the local level, and amending re-opening plans and tactics based on the feedback within the local community. Like grand openings, your re-openings should not be approached as one-size-fits-all. While there will be similarities and common threads, each community is unique with something that really makes them tick. Should a national survey make more sense for you and your business, we suggest that you request the customers’ city + state and/or zip code. This will make it easier to segment information by DMA or market – allowing you to develop a more targeted re-opening plan.
Below, you will find a sampling of questions Konnect suggests including in your customer survey:
- All Businesses:
- How likely are you to visit us when we re-open?
- What can we do to ensure you feel comfortable at our location?
- What are your biggest concerns with visiting our location?
- Would you be more likely to do business with us if we continued offering curbside pick-up and delivery options upon re-opening?
- Are you interested in seeing a list of new precautions and sanitization guidelines displayed in our store/business?
- Does it make you feel more comfortable visiting us knowing that our employees will be required to wear masks and gloves, and are temperature-checked prior to clocking in for their shift?
- Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?
- How would you like to view our menu (Disposable or single use; online from your cell phone via a QR code; laminated (and sanitized) after every use?)
- How often do you plan on dining out as restaurants re-open?
- How likely are you to use curbside pick-up once restaurants re-open?
- Fitness Concepts:
- Would you be more likely to do business with us if we continued offering live streaming/online classes or personal training sessions upon re-opening?
- Do you feel comfortable returning to the physical gym for group classes or private training with an X PERSON CAP in the facility as soon as DATE?
- Would it make you more comfortable knowing that all patrons will be temperature-checked upon arrival?
Now that you’ve collected customer responses, evaluated them, and established what modifications within the organization are reasonable to implement, you need to walk the walk. Actions speak louder than words — so now is the time to take swift action and show how you’ve addressed concerns (and how you’ll continue to do so in the future). We know it’s impossible to eradicate every individual’s stress over returning to your business, but you need to at least let your patrons know that their feedback is important, understood and valued. Prior to opening, we recommend sending a note to your email list that details out the changes you’ve made and the protocols in place as we all adapt to this “new normal.” This messaging should also be part of your social media strategy and published on your website. Think about the below questions:
- Is there a limit to how many people can be in your store, gym or restaurant at a given time?
- Do customers need to book appointments? If this was already standard practice, has the booking process changed?
- Have your hours of operation changed?
- Has your product or service availability changed?
- Are you offering contactless payment options? If so, how can guests ensure they are set up to take advantage of the service?
- If you still have options available for those practicing social distancing, make those clearly available
- What is your business doing to keep your physical locations sanitized and clean?
- What safety precautions are staff taking to ensure a safe environment for your guests? Will they be standing from a distance and/or wearing masks and gloves? How will customer interactions be different?
Lastly, make certain that these answers are shared with every employee, especially if they are guest-facing! This is vital in ensuring a clear and consistent experience for your guests during a time of a lot of uncertainty.
Our public relations agency is here to provide guidance and support as you re-open brick-and-mortar franchise and multi-unit businesses.
– Shelby Robinson