While we can’t predict exactly when the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic will pass, it’s safe to assume one thing: The virus will impact the way you do business and your customers’ expectations for years to come.
(See the latest updates on how ERIE is supporting customers during this unprecedented time in our COVID-19 Information Center.)
Over the past few months, there’s been no shortage of changes to navigate. From new telecommuting policies to cleaning procedures, you’ve rapidly adjusted to a new and unexpected normal. As for your customers? Amenities like online ordering or curbside pickup – once seen as extras – are becoming the new standard, even as businesses gradually transition to in-person service.
As we navigate the next chapter of COVID-19 together, those (and more) expectations just might be here to stay. What might your customers expect from your business in this new normal and beyond? Here are some trends that are likely to stick around:
5 Things your Customers Expect During (and After) COVID-19
- Transparent cleaning and safety protocols: This keeps everyone on the same page and builds trust and accountability. Are you closing down early to clean overnight? Sanitizing frequently-touched surfaces? Requiring masks for entry? Make expectations clear and readily available, such as a page on your website or a social media post. Then, remember to hold employees and customers accountable. (Get trusted tips for cleaning workplaces on CDC.gov.)
- Contact-free options: Online ordering. Curbside pickup. Video consultations. Get creative and think about what makes sense for your business. Maintaining social distance is simply the right thing to do – and even as restrictions relax, customers’ desire for contact-free options is not going away anytime soon.
- Updated hours of operation: If Google says you’re open but your website says you’re closed, that can confuse and frustrate customers… or cost you a sale. Make sure your hours and contact information are consistent on your website, search engines and social media. Put a sign in the window to communicate changes in operating hours to passers-by – and don’t forget to change your business voicemail too.
- Staying connected: Maintaining social distance doesn’t mean we have to stay emotionally apart. Keep in touch with your customers through social media or e-newsletters to let them know they’re still top of mind (and keep your business top of mind, too). A coupon or discount code can provide a helpful incentive when you reach out, as well.
- A little vulnerability: If your first attempt at something new is a little wonky… so what? Tell your customers you’re trying your best and ask for honest feedback. Aim for progress and authenticity, not perfection – and don’t forget to celebrate the small victories. After all, we’re figuring this out together.
Trusted Resources for Business Owners About COVID-19
For starters, it’s essential to follow the most recent guidance from local, state and federal officials. For more tips about operating your business during COVID-19, keep these links handy and check them often:
- Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA): COVID-19 Resource Guide
- Center for Disease Control and Prevention: Guidance for Businesses and Workplaces
- U.S. Chamber of Commerce: Combatting the Coronavirus
- U.S. Department of the Treasury: CARES Act Assistance for Small Businesses
- U.S. Small Business Association: COVID-19 Small Business Guidance and Loan Resources
Looking After You
At the heart of operating a small business is being part of the surrounding community – getting involved, helping people and supporting causes. Doing the right thing is what we’re about at Erie Insurance, too - whether it’s customer service, claims service or community service.
It’s why we’ve announced more than $400 million in relief for both personal and commercial auto customers and made more than $2 million available to agents to give back to local communities through our ERIE Agents Giving Back project.
Our local, independent agents are also business owners just like you. Talk to your local agent for a coverage review.