How SMEs can keep customers engaged during lockdown

by Asha Patel. There are steps small business owners can take to keep operations going or to keep clients engaged until it’s possible to reopen.

by Asha Patel. The world is an uncertain place right now. We’re all learning how to deal with a global pandemic, and the realities we knew a couple of months ago now seem very far away. Small business owners are feeling this acutely. Many are unable to operate their businesses the way they used to, whether because of social distancing restrictions, reduced demand, or illness.

But even with these enormous challenges, there are steps small business owners can take to keep operations going or to keep clients engaged until it’s possible to reopen. And Google wants to help. We’ve provided a number of free resources and practical ideas:

  • Communicate with your customers. If you don’t already have one, set up a profile on Google My Business. From there, you can let everyone know if your hours of operation have changed, or if you’ve had to temporarily close your doors. You can also use a feature called Posts to communicate information directly on your profile, like the safety precautions you’re taking, updates on what products and services are available, and whether customers can expect delays. Retailers can also let customers know whether or not they’re still open for in-store shopping, or if they’re offering new services like takeout, curbside pickup, or delivery: Just update your attributes.
  • Creative ways to stay in touch with customers. Once you have a bit more time to think through the possibilities, ask yourself if there are any creative ways to stay in touch with your customers and retain their loyalty. If you’re a restaurant that’s had to close, could you start a free YouTube channel with videos on how to make your signature dishes? If you’re a shop operating with limited hours, could you post up-to-date photos of your current inventory? Or what about using your free Google My Business website to set up a scrappy delivery service for customers who can’t make it to your shop?
  • Communicating with employees. Just as important as communicating with your customers, is communicating with your employees. Store their contact information online so it’s accessible from any device. Make a business continuity plan and share it with employees via an email address they can access outside of the office. If you have more than one business location, give local managers the authority to take appropriate actions based on conditions at their location.

Many businesses will be working remotely for the foreseeable future. If you have a Gmail account, you already have a lot of what you’ll need to be productive. You can also find even more free tools and resources on Grow with Google. In fact, in addition to free online digital skills training, Grow with Google also has a new webinar series to help businesses navigate the new reality of learning, working and operating remotely.


Asha Patel is Google South Africa Head of Marketing. Google’s mission is to organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.


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