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How to communicate effectively with customers during the second wave


With the second wave of COVID-19 lockdowns hitting retail and foodservice sectors, many business owners are using the lessons learned during the first wave to navigate the ever-changing business environment.

Some businesses have pivoted to new service models or products to maintain a positive cash flow, such as online ordering and food delivery. Others are using their production facilities to produce much-needed medical gear. In either case, having an ongoing dialogue with customers, suppliers, and other stakeholders has been crucial to their recovery.

Whether or not you have the means or opportunity to offer new products or services, establishing an external communication plan to engage with customers will be vital.

These tips can help retailers and restaurant owners communicate effectively during the second wave.

Customers will have heightened anxieties about food and product safety. Providing clear information can alleviate their fears.

  • List and display safety and sanitization practices for storage, service, and delivery. For restaurants, include food preparation and cooking.
  • Share safety protocols in your communications and post them prominently on your website.
  • Provide clear delivery options and pricing.

In times of crisis, people seek reassurance from all sources—whether as an employee, partner, or customer. Messages should convey empathy and authenticity.

  • Demonstrate that employees and customers are the top priority.
  • Express your concern for the community and appreciation for their past, present, and future patronage.
  • Include updates on your employees and measures taken to protect them during the crisis.
  • If you’re part of a chain, emphasize both corporate responsibility and local actions.

Frequency and cadence are important when communicating with customers during a crisis.

  • Keep customers updated on changes to hours, products, services or menu availability, delivery options, and other relevant information.
  • Send messages that are concise and timely, rather than lengthy and less frequent.

  • Update your website, social media channels, and other business or search engine listings with relevant changes for maximum awareness and feedback.

In times of uncertainty, familiarity and the comfort of prior memories and routines can offer stability.

  • Your message, tone, and method of communicating should represent your relationship with your customers.
  • Align messages to your brand, but not at the expense of transparency and empathy.

  • Remind customers of past good times together and invite them to imagine similar future experiences. Done authentically, this can have short and long-term benefits.

When creating website content, social media posts, email updates, or other messages, ask four key questions.

  • What do customers want to know?

  • How will the message make them feel?
  • Where and how do they want to receive messages?

  • How will they respond?

Even after social distancing relaxes, full business recovery will likely take some time. It will not be an easy road for some retailers and restaurant owners. However, businesses that communicate effectively with their customers now can better position themselves for recovery when COVID-19 is behind us.

How BDO can help

Our team understands the challenges that retailers and restaurant owners are facing during the COVID-19 crisis. We can offer guidance to help you navigate this uncertain time, and help you develop strategies to adapt for the future.

Contact us

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