As we boldly go into the 21-day COVID-19 lockdown, individuals and businesses will be relying on social media and online platforms to stay connected and support each other. Here’s how.
The livelihood of small businesses – and by extension, those in its employ – is crucial in South Africa, especially while a pandemic wreaks havoc on a global scale.
Now is the time for businesses and entrepreneurs to come together and share information, to connect and support each other, as well as their employees, vendors and business partners.
After all, “when businesses thrive, their communities and local economies do too”, says Nunu Ntshingila, the regional director for Facebook Africa. Ntshingila adds:
“We continue to hear and see stories from around the world of how individuals and businesses are remaining resilient, everything from now offering virtual fitness classes to coaching and teaching students through Facebook LIVE.”
Facebook’s Business Resource Hub
The Facebook Africa team is aware that businesses “may experience unexpected challenges during this time”. They are therefore committed to providing support through the Business Resource Hub.
If you are a small business owner facing uncertainty right about now, the five steps below will assist and planning strategies for the next 21 days while, hopefully, also help you stay clear-headed in the process.
Keeping customers safe
Small business owners can stay up to date by following credible, official sources such as the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the government health department.
By doing that, business owners can respond quickly and adapt to changes that could affect customers. In addition, it’s also advised to follow WHO on Facebook or Instagram, or use the 0600 123 456 WhatsApp Support Line.
Staying in touch with customers
Proactively share important information with your customers using all the online tools at your disposal, such as email, your website or social media messaging platforms.
You could also include information about the measures you’re taking to make your premises or products safe, or how you will handle customer enquiries if there are expected delivery delays.
Hosting online events
It’s not only musicians and entertainers who need to host online events. Small business owners can take a leaf out of their book, especially if you had to postpone or cancel any planned event as a result of the coronavirus.
Use online events to connect with your customers directly on their phone or PC. The options are endless: from hosting an online webinar to recording videos, podcasts, and leveraging social media posts and instant messaging.
Prepare a customer service plan
To be responsive and transparent with your customers during these challenging times, prepare for incoming questions and requests. How, you may ask?
Well, consider drafting templated responses for your emails or set up instant-reply messages with any pertinent information that you expect your customers will be looking for.
You can read more about how to turn Instant Replies on or off here.
Provide a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs)
Lastly, it’s advised to prepare a list of responses for questions your customers are likely to ask and provide as much detail and reassurance as possible in your answers.