Whilst the health of our loved ones is utmost in our thoughts during these anomalous times, if you run or own a business the economic impact of the Coronavirus is a serious consideration.
We’ve been talking to our clients and businesses who are generally falling into two camps. The first one is the business that has temporarily had to shut their doors as per lockdown instructions, furlough staff and try to continue online sales if staffing and suppliers are able available and operating.
The other camp has seen a massive upturn for their products or services, and are busier than ever, even struggling to keep up with the orders and customer enquiries. If you’re lucky enough to be in this camp, how can you upscale your business quickly and in some cases urgently?
Additionally, you don’t want to miss the opportunity to keep these new clients or at least be able to market your business to them in the long term when things do go back to normal.
The meme ‘fail to prepare, prepare to fail’ will probably go out the window if you’ve become silly busy overnight. Chances are that you’ve not had time to put plans and procedures in place and whilst the priority is to get orders fulfilled and shipped, think about managing customers, both existing and new and how you can continue these new relationships.
Here’s some pointers that could help you to upscale your business activities quickly, while managing customers’ expectations.
A quick solution is to see if there is any part of your operation that can be outsourced to relieve some pressure. With many companies less busy or seriously impacted by the Coronavirus they may well be able to help and welcome the business.
Think about aspects of your business that could be outsourced, for example accounting services. While you get on fulfilling orders and dealing with customers, could you use a self-employed bookkeeper or accountant? For the extra administration or answering calls, virtual assistants may be able to help.
A warehouse fulfillment centre could relieve some pressure too, especially if you lack space for additional products and they’ll take care of any shipping worries too. It could the be ideal solution to upscale quickly while increasing sales but keeping costs at a manageable level.
If you don’t currently sell online, setting up eCommerce now could be an option. Whilst not a quick fix its a good opportunity to take this time when web design companies/developers may be less busy.
During this time, many customers are turning to social media for much of their information. They may want to know/enquire about your current services or products, or even just to keep in touch. That’s why posting on social media is essential to let people know what you’re organisation is and isn’t doing right now. If you simply don’t have the time for this, a social media customer service management could be answer and let a outside agency make your social media presence work for you.
If you’re unable to outsource parts of your operation, many essential businesses are advertising and employing temporary staff. Whilst the government is helping enormously, there’s still people who are looking for work or those who want to help if your business is supporting the community, essential workers or a charity.
Up your Ecommerce Game
If this is something you’ve been meaning to do and your website doesn’t currently take orders online, it’s not too late, potentially to get this working now. Furthermore, looking to forward its a good investment to have this long term anyway. Selling online isn’t always a quick set up but even if you look to do an interim solution it will mean you are not missing out on sales and the current demand.
If you already sell online, and have become significantly busier, look to see if there are any ways to make your online customer journey easier and quicker right now. Are customers unhappy about anything? This could be as simple as letting customers know shipping timescales during Covid-19 or if there are likely to be delays before they order to avoid problems later down the line.
Now is also a good time to ramp up the online marketing if you have the capacity. Buying traffic could be cheaper and more profitable than its ever been with people stuck at home who want your products and services but don’t want to wait. Many companies are having delivery delays, which means people are shopping around and brand loyalty is not a priority . They are simply trawling the internet for their wants and needs. Even Amazon, the eCommerce giant are not ticking the delivery customer service box at the moment.
Undoubtedly there will be lessons to be learned from such a sharp increase in business. To maintain any increase in the longer term it is vital to constantly review what’s worked well online and what could have been done better. This feedback is invaluable to maintaining and improving online sales, future strategy and procedures.
Shipping and Delivery
Royal Mail, delivery companies and couriers are working hard during this time, but even so there may be delays. They are also handling deliveries differently with regard to social distancing; for example not taking a signature on delivery. Talk to your delivery or shipping company about any extra precautions you need to take or to advise your customers about.
Keep your Customers Informed
Anxiety levels are high for everyone and one of the most important things you can do is to manage your customers’ expectations and keep them informed.
- Update your website with any important messages, opening hours etc.
- Use your social media platforms to reach out to customers and let them what you are doing and not doing.
- Let customers know the best way to reach you – phone or email.
- Get customers to sign up to your newsletter/emails to stay informed.
- Email existing customers with an update.
In the longer term and in order to keep up the momentum, if you can think about your marketing and not just order taking and delivery you’ve got an opportunity maximise this busy period for the future. Getting people to sign up for emails or follow you on social media will give you the best chance to keep these new customers, not just in the short term, but long term too.
We know there’s a lot to think about and you may not have been ready for expansion, or even expecting it but if you’ve gained new customers and can trade through the pandemic over next few months, we look forward to seeing you on the other side.
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