Author: Cassie Gasaway
Spoiler alert: Relationships with your customers must outlast the pandemic if you want your business to survive. Here’s what you can do to improve and maintain customer relationships during this stressful and unprecedented time.
Make your COVID-19 policies clear by displaying them prominently on your website. Photo Credit: Pacifica Archery
Establish and Post Your COVID Policies… Everywhere
Do you require customers to wear a mask? Do you limit the number of people in your store to promote social distancing? People want to know your business protocols before they visit.
Establish your pandemic policies in accordance with local, state and federal policies. Then, post the information everywhere, including on your front door, website, and social media accounts. Record a new message for your voicemail, if you have one. Many people check online for information before they head out. Ensure your website and social media accounts are accurate. Update your policies if you make any changes.
Also, no matter your COVID policy, share it, enforce it, and stand by it. Politely ask customers to wear their masks and allow extra space when waiting to checkout. If someone disobeys your policy or refuses to follow it, kindly ask them to leave. Free passes for rule-breakers can create a confusing, chaotic and unsafe shop environment. Don’t let people abuse your rules.
Share Your Updated Store Hours
Post your updated hours on your website, storefront and social media accounts to notify your customers. After setting a schedule and posting your hours, abide by them. Nothing is more frustrating to customers than showing up at a store to see a “closed” sign. Customers hate surprises and might take their business elsewhere. By posting updated hours, you tell customers you care about their business. To eliminate confusion, show customers the information they are reading is current. For example, include a note that says, “New Hours as of Sept. 1, 2020.”
Answer Your Phone/Respond to Customers
If someone can’t find information online, or they don’t have internet access, they’ll likely call. Dedicate a staff member to respond to customer questions. People expect to be acknowledged and helped. Don’t ignore their attempt to get answers, or you might push them away.
Make Customers Feel Comfortable in Your Shop
Show customers you’re doing everything you can to help them stay safe. Follow the CDC cleaning and disinfecting guidelines, and post your cleaning procedures online. Also, use the ATA’s free social distancing store signs. Then, post the signs to show customers you encourage social distancing and are committed to keeping them safe as they navigate your space.
Be Consistent and Present on Social Media
During the pandemic, consumers increased their social media use and engaged in additional digital activities. Capitalize on their screen time and introduce them to archery’s many disciplines. Post content, including pictures and videos, two or three times each week to engage with consumers. Not sure where to start? Use the ATA’s six social media tips to increase engagements and boost your brand.
Send updates via email explaining your procedures. Photo Credit: X10 Archery
Communicate by Email
During this time of turmoil, effective communication is the best way to maintain customer relationships. Email is a great way to reach multiple customers at once. Plus, many point-of-sale systems and email marketing programs make creating and sending emails easy. Use this time to boost your email marketing efforts. Share your COVID-19 policies, new store hours, cleaning procedures, and fall sales or promotions via email. Be specific and intentional with your communications, and strive to contact customers weekly or bi-weekly, instead of daily (too often) or monthly (not enough). Read ATA’s article “Email Marketing is Easy and Effective” for tips and guidance.
Improve Your Customer Journey
Customers are navigating the pandemic just like you. Take the opportunity to understand their journey. What do they like? What do they dislike? Are there areas where you could improve? Identify barriers, pain points and proficiencies. Use their feedback to improve, but don’t become overwhelmed. Make a list of items to tackle now and a separate list for later. If you don’t already, make curbside pickup and contactless pay a priority, because these options show you are flexible and innovative.
Offer Curbside Pickup
Conduct “porch pickups” or “drive-thru sales,” because they’re convenient for customers. They reduce the number of people in your shop, which helps limit exposure to potential viruses and bacteria. Have your customers call in their orders, pay over the phone, and swing by to pick them up. Then, bring their order to the parking lot when they arrive. Likewise, allow people to drop off equipment to be serviced, and call them when it’s ready to be picked up.
Accept Contactless Pay Options
Cash and cards are filthy. They could carry germs, bacteria and viruses like COVID-19. Offer contactless payment options, which allow customers to pay without exchanging cash or a card, or punching in a pin number. Most contactless payment systems using radio-frequency identification or near field communication to allow secure payments touch-free. The MyATA service provider Celerant Technology has software programs for contactless payments. Click here to learn more.
Consider Selling Online
The e-commerce market exploded after COVID-19. This helps stores conduct business without personal interactions. E-commerce introduces large audiences to products, which increases the potential to make lots of money fast – and it doesn’t require you to stock shelves. However, e-commerce businesses have their cons, too. Read ATA’s article “Should I Sell Products Online” to determine if it’s worth your time and energy.
– For Lessons: Group lessons are not advised. Most 1:1 indoor lessons require close contact. Instead, use video platforms like Skype or FaceTime to conduct at-home shooting lessons with your regular customers. You could also organize group video sessions to connect and share tips with club or league participants.
– To Produce a Quick Shop Update: Videos grab people’s attention. They’re memorable, and they engage viewers. Create short videos for your website and social media accounts to update customers regarding your business. Record yourself or a staff member explaining store changes, COVID-19 policies and improved cleaning procedures. Then, plug a few hot products and invite folks to stop by at the end.
Want more ideas or advice? Head to your MyATA Learning Center to watch the following:
1. Post-Pandemic: The Future of Retail Marketing
This webinar shores how to build customer trust, update your customer communication plan, and push yourself and your business like never before. You’ll learn how to set goals, think creatively, and make archery and bowhunting more appealing to attract new customers.
2. 5 Myths of Digital Retail: Selling Through COVID-19 & Beyond
In this on-demand video event, Michele Salerno of Celerant Technologies, a MyATA service provider, walks ATA members through how independent brick and mortar retailers can stay current and competitive in an increasingly digital marketplace.
To watch these videos, log into your MyATA member dashboard and click “MyATA Learning Center.” Use the search feature to find each video. Or browse the categories for more helpful video courses.
Questions? Contact Nicole Nash, ATA’s range and retail programs manager, at email@example.com.