6 Tips to Make Managing Your Local Business Through Quarantine Easier
Try as we might, no business can plan for the unexpected. As we do everything we can to protect our employees and customers from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is causing many businesses to change their day-to-day processes. Several businesses have had to close their doors, while others are implementing work from home policies for the first time. Here are our best tips to help manage your business through quarantine.
1. Update Your Local Business Hours
Whether your business is closing, restricting hours, or offering limited services (such as a restaurant with take-out only) be sure to update your local business listings to reflect your new hours. The last thing you want is to provide customers with misinformation during a time of need. Update your listings to have “special hours” or set them as “temporarily closed”. Take this time to also ensure your contact information such as your phone is listed accurately – since there is no one in the office to answer.
Notice: With the rise of businesses changing their hours right now, Google My Business is prioritizing listing updates for health-related businesses first. All other industries may experience a delay.
Businesses who don’t update their business listings during quarantine may find their listings marked as permanently closed due to consumer suggested edits. Click here for a guide on how to update your local business hours.
Restaurants: Take this one step further by updating your listing category and description to “Take Out”. This will inform customers they are not able to dine-in.
2. Lock Down Brand Messaging
With your team working remotely, it’s a great time to make sure any messaging you’re putting out around the coronavirus is in sync. Create a few templates to ensure brand consistency across all media outlets (social media, reviews, emails, and more). From business hours to health standards, employee and customer safety, and much more, make sure you have guidelines for every question that may come your way during this time. This will give your team the power to respond to customer concerns quickly by reducing internal communication on what to say. When it comes to reviews, Chatmeter customers can easily maintain brand consistency by loading response templates in LocationHQ.
3. Maintain Communication With Customers (Even If Your Business Is Closed).
Once you have your messaging locked down, make sure you’re actively communicating with customers. Here are a few places consumers might look to engage with your brand.
Last week, Google My Business announced they would be disabling all reviews, review responses, and Q&A until further notice. This step to protect the reputation of local businesses comes as a relief to many brands. However, many review sites, such as Facebook and Yelp are still collecting reviews. Brands need to monitor and respond to all reviews within 24 hours in order to keep up with consumer feedback. Utilizing things like review response templates help protect brand consistency and make it easier to respond to all reviews as quickly as possible.
Social media is widely used as a news source for many people, especially younger generations. Create posts about how you’re handling the COVID-19 situation and share them across all your business accounts. This will create a safe space for customers to discuss the situation with your brand and get their questions answered quickly.
Social media is also a great place to share more engaging content during this time. Find creative ways to keep your customers engaged with your brand, even if they can’t be in-store.
For multi-location businesses, each location may have different regulations set by the state or city. Inform customers of changes to their local stores through your website on your local pages. Your website is the perfect place to keep a single source of truth for all business-related COVID-19 information. As business restrictions may vary by location, turn to your local pages to inform customers of FAQs around their local store.
Emailing your customers to keep them informed of how you’re reacting to the COVID-19 outbreak is always a good practice. Unfortunately, consumers are receiving emails from 100s of brands at this time. Help your emails stand out with creative subject lines and a consistent cadence.
At a time when many people can’t leave their homes, offer creative solutions to keep consumers engaged with your brand. If you’re a gym, share daily home workouts. If you’re a restaurant, offer free delivery. Let customers know you’re here for them during this stressful time.
4. Automate Your Workflow
At this point, it may sound like your company has a lot more work cut out for them than if it were just business as usual. Stay on top of everything you need to complete by implementing a task management system. Chatmeter’s Workflow makes it easy to stay on top of listing changes, review responses, social media approvals, and much more.
Our Workflow tool is also great for tracking your team’s progress. This is extremely helpful when your team is working from home. With built-in escalation tools, users can collaborate on tasks to ensure they never miss a thing. Workflow is exactly what brands need to help keep everyone on the team accountable and organized during quarantine.
5. Monitor and Adapt To Changes
Keeping up with customer concerns during this time is vital. Brands should monitor their reviews and customer feedback closely and make changes based on the data they’re seeing. Chatmeter’s text and sentiment analysis tool, Pulse, makes it easy for multi-location brands to analyze customer feedback at scale.
Pulse identifies trending topics, abnormal increases in reviews, and the distribution of sentiment across all reviews and customer surveys. According to our research, 49.5% of the feedback found in local business reviews about the coronavirus (or other related topics) is negative. This is why it’s great that Google and Yelp have taken a stance against reviews related to COVID-19 at this time. In the long-run, this will help protect the reputation of local businesses. However, there are still many sites accepting reviews during this time, which can provide valuable operational insight.
6. Empower Your Team
Lastly, be sure you’re giving your team the tools they need to be successful virtually. Chatmeter offers unlimited licenses making it easy to deploy these tools to your larger team. Now more than ever is a great time to deploy Chatmeter to the entire team. Other tools like Google Hangouts, Slack, and Trello are all free online tools that make working virtually much easier.
Working through quarantine is not easy, but it helps to know that we’re all doing our part to “flatten-the-curve”. Hopefully, these tips will inspire your team to get even more work done while they work from home. Want to learn more about all the great ways Chatmeter helps local businesses manage their online reputation and visibility? Click here to speak with one of our location experts.