How to Keep Up Customer Engagement in a Crisis
As much as you try to prepare, when a crisis strikes, there’s always a moment of stress and panic.
This unprecedented time we’re in is new territory for everyone, which means it’s an opportunity to establish (or enforce the idea) that you have a leading business. You're a trusted source. An "essential business" for all different kinds of pet needs.
A question on everyone’s mind is how to connect with customers—to convey all your business has to offer and why it should be the one pet parents choose to shop at.
“Small businesses that have found alternative ways to serve customers will have a better chance to weather the pandemic,” said Deborah Hileman, SCMP, president and CEO of Institute for Crisis Management.
While social distancing has made it more challenging for essential businesses to connect with customers (from 6 ft. away), there are a variety of ways to still share your business with customers.
Make Every Visit Count
As pet retailers in many states are being deemed “essential businesses,” many pet stores are still operating, after making adjustments to store operations. Pet Supplies Plus, Pet Valu and Pet Supermarket and more retailers have made adjustments to ensure the safety of their customers and employees.
Scenthound, a membership-based grooming business based in Florida is allowing one person at a time to enter its lobby. A spokesperson for Scenthound shared that an employee who stands outside (with other customers waiting in line outside) and can initiative conversations with customers and get feedback from them about what they want to see from the grooming business, and if they can help them in some way.
For businesses that don’t have as strong online presence, making adjustments in stores is imperative.
“Even those that don’t have a strong online presence can offer order pickup and delivery services if they can reach their customers via email,” said Hileman.
For customers that do go out to shop at your business, showing appreciation by telling them how much their business is worth, and how much it means, can also have a lasting impression on a customer.
This is a given, but bolstering your social media presence during this time keeps your brand fresh in a customer’s mind. Not only can you share updates about your business, but providing relevant updates to pet owners about how they can keep pets clean or answering any questions online would be a great help. “Our social media team is expanding communication to support and engage with pet owners while social distancing is a priority,” said Tim Blurton, CEO of Cosmic Pet.
With social media, it’s also key to be mindful and sensitive to the situation at hand. Consider everything you post in relation to what customers may or may not be going through. As scary as it sounds, some may be sick, dealing with someone who’s gotten sick or lost someone close to them as a result of covid-19. Keep in mind that previous marketing strategies or plans you had in place may not work anymore, and focus on how you can adjust your social media approach to brighten a customer’s day and get their mind of everything.
Whether it’s posting a cute picture on instagram, using Facebook live to showcase products or using Twitter to convey important information, all social media platforms can be utilized to the fullest.
Donations and Expressions of Support
If you’re able to donate at this time, encourage customers to consider donating too. If you work with an animal shelter or a rescue group, highlight the benefits of fostering animals, and how fostering an animal at this time could really make a difference for the animal shelters experiencing heavy volume. Now is the time to lean on the strength of the pet care community—together we can support each other.
Together, and as individuals, it’s time to think outside the box.
“Business as usual is gone,” said Hileman. “We believe that the pandemic will reveal business opportunities for entrepreneurial thinkers that can find creative ways to serve both existing and new customers post-pandemic.”