With many areas of Victoria returning to lockdown and NSW re-instituting some social distancing measures, the exact nature of the coming weeks and months are still very uncertain.
While things continue to evolve and change each day, the key for retailers who were just starting to return to trading will be consistent and clear communications with both their staff and customers.
OpenMarket has prepared the below top five tips to help retailers manage the ongoing changes around COVID-19 regulations and restrictions.
1. Confirm the message – The first and most important step is to formalise your approach to engaging with staff and customers. It’s easy to find yourself moving forward with communications on an ad hoc basis as the situation changes – it starts with needing to send one message, and then 3 weeks from now you’re committed to a full-blown messaging campaign with no idea how you got there.
Before you begin, sit down and decide how you want to proceed, what you want to say and how you want to say it. Get the admin squared away, confirm the details of your approach at the appropriate levels and then reach out and start communicating.
2. Get on the front foot – Times are still uncertain and while some places are experiencing a second lockdown, in other areas people are free to go about their daily lives with little to no restriction. As a result, it’s important to make sure that people properly understand what they can or can’t do. Are there limits to the number of people who can be in a lift in your building? Is social distancing in effect in the office? Are they even allow to return to the office now? You need to provide clear messaging to customers and staff about what the regulations mean for them so they can make the correct decision for themselves.
Also, keep these discussions open and ensure that both customers and staff have a way of getting back in touch with you. There are bound to be questions and you want to be as responsive and approachable as possible.
3. Inform and entertain – People are under stress, and what they need more than anything right now is the reassurance of clear, useful information. Keeping customers informed about what it is going on with your organisation or the world that you’re operating in is important. Using SMS to send quick updates to customers about changes to opening hours, operating rules, stock updates and delivery information can bring some much-needed clarity.
4. Crowd control – If you’re a store, pub, club or restaurant you need to ensure that you’re operating within the space and people limits set by relevant local health authorities. To do this, you might need to carefully plan your attendance and stagger people in order to avoid large crowds milling around at the front of your location. The easiest way to let a large group of people know what the new logistics are for your venue is a quick SMS. Through this platform you can inform a customer that their table is ready or confirm that their booking is available, ensure people know their start times or when a window is available for them to enter the store.
5. Customer Consent– You need to make sure that when you’re communicating with customers and staff you have their permission to do so. The protection of personal data is an extremely important thing to many people, especially in a world where the EUs General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and Notifiable Data Breach Scheme (NDBS) are regulating how data is handled. Also important to note is that people want to be communicated with via the channels they prefer, and these wishes need to be respected. An empathetic approach to communication is key.