Lockdown for us has been busier than expected. We were prepared for things to come to a grinding halt however some clients provide essential services and their emails and websites need to be kept online.
Others have used the quieter times to freshen up websites and get ready for the new normal in times of the Covid-19 pandemic.
It hasn’t been easy and there are challenging times ahead for all businesses large or small. However let’s accentuate the positive and suggest actions that might help your adapt to a future where online presence is critical.
Communications on your website and social media
During this pandemic we have had to have social distancing to reduce the risk of spreading the virus.
This is important for stopping an already serious health crisis becoming a catastrophe. Many countries have shown the benefits controlling the situation early and efficiently and will reap the rewards from a controlled relaxation of the rules.
For many businesses, UK social distancing rules mean that people often can’t visit your premises and your staff working from home or you have reduced staffing levels. The UK Government has only just relaxed some of the rules to allow people to visit non-essential businesses.
It is important to take the appropriate measures and communicate this to your customers. People won’t use businesses unless they feel safe.
That means your website and social should provide clear messaging that you have taken the appropriate measures to make people feel safe.
Here are some suggestions for the type of information you need to provide:
- Opening hours – these won’t be the same as before so you need to ensure people know your new opening hours and opening days.
- Safety measures – how you are ensuring people’s safety such as staff PPE, social distancing, maximum numbers on the premises etc.
- Handling policies – if you sell clothes, can people try on items and what happens after they are tried on. If you sell books or physical items what happens after handling.
- Cleaning policy – how often and how key areas are cleaned. For example our clients Dial a Cab are very clear about the precautions taken by drivers and how the cars are cleaned.
- Payment policy – how you accept payment, cashless or card only. Are you operating click and collect?
- Returns policy – how are you going to handle the results.
This information needs to be clearly communicated on your website and social media. Here are some examples from our clients Dial a Cab.
And PMMDA – Polymer Machinery Manufacturers and Distributors Association have a directory page of member companies offering services during the Covid-19 crisis.
Pinning the post to the top of your social media profiles will ensure the message is always easy to find.
Always keep the information up to date and accurate so people aren’t disappointed.
Enhancing the features on your website
There’s a lot of talk about the new normal without anyone really defining it. All businesses will have to change the way they operate, get paid and fulfill orders.
If you have a B2B (business to business) services then your communications, travel policy and meetings will need to adapt to changing times. Video conferencing technology and project management software has advanced to the stage where it is easy to use and the hardware is relatively cheap – although getting hold of a decent quality webcam was a problem at the start of the lockdown.
Here are some ideas on how you could change your web presence where social distancing still apply.
- Offer online ordering and payment – e-commerce is relatively easy and cheap to setup these days. PayPal and Stripe are good cheap options with no monthly fees.
- Provide click and collect and mail order services – once you are signed up and approved with a payment gateway setting up click and collect and online mail order is relatively easy
- Online booking and reservations – allow customers to book when they visit your premises or shop.
- Provide video conferencing – use video conferencing to answer customer enquiries or provide technical support.
- Provide web chat – it’s reassuring for customers to communicate with a real person even if it’s through web chat.
- Ensure your email and hosting is secure and reliable.
- Be open to new technology and innovations.
For example BBC click recently featured an episode on how public businesses adapting to the new normal.
Major sports teams are playing behind closed doors and fans can watch the game at home or online. Some sports such as football are experimenting with adding virtual grandstands, crowd noise and augmented reality crowd scenes. A more low tech version involves fans buying cardboard cut-outs of themselves to be placed at the ground.
Trying on clothes may not be possible or even a very appealing thought in the new normal. AI technology from ZeeKit enables you to try on clothes virtually. BBC Click reporter Lara Lewington had to take a specially arranged photo of herself and provide measurements.
The technology then provides a virtual gallery of you appearing to wear the clothes so you can see how they might look on.
While this technology is new, it will eventually flow down through to smaller companies.
Video conferencing software
Here are some examples of the best video conferencing software such as Zoom , Go To Meeting, Google Meet etc – Best video conferencing software.
Project management software
Best project management software such as Zoho, TeamGantt – Best project management software
Hardware for live streaming, video conferencing or online video recording
Logitech do very good kit for webcams and headsets, although I did buy a very good non-branded webcam from China (on Ebay) that proved to be very good quality. For improved sound quality consider a dedicated USB microphone such as Blue or one of the classic music brands such as Shure, Rode or Audio Technica