CRUCIAL COMMUNICATION: THE RE-OPENING RANT

After the restaurant industry scrambled to implement operational changes that would comply with new social distancing rules and keep revenue coming in, it is finally faced with what seems like the light at the end of the tunnel.

As these turbulent times unfold customers still have many questions and wonder if it’s safe to eat out again. It can seem daunting for a brand to communicate during uncertain times but, simply put, the solution is clear and concise communication. In these unprecedented times, consumers are searching for an authentic brand that will earn their trust and adapt alongside them.

Here are five tips on how to talk to your customer to keep them coming back.

Share a Concise Message on Safety Protocol

Safety has to be the main message shared, accompanied by a straightforward strategy of what the business plans to do to help keep communities safe.

Proactively take concerns into consideration by highlighting your safety protocol, right down to the nitty gritty. Don’t assume all sanitation procedures, such as hand washing, are implied just because everyone else is talking about them. Communicate those key safety messages in a tangible way for consumers to reference, either through in-store signage, your website, social media etc.

Additionally, remember not all customers are ready to dine out again. Enticing them with a promotion or discount offer will not change that. Lead your conversation with safety protocol and they’ll come to you when they’re ready. In the meantime, be sure to demonstrate access to such things as delivery, drive-thru, takeout, and curbside pick-up.

Have a Crisis Plan in Place

We are all entering the unknown and, with that, preparedness will be your best friend. Restaurants should be prepared to respond to the myriad of situations ranging from customer inquiries to COVID-19 exposure.

A great place to start is by training your staff on how to properly respond to customer questions and potentially prevent complaints from escalating.

As we’ve seen in the news, some customers still expect the same fast service they got used to pre-pandemic despite restaurants working under very different circumstances. Meet these concerns with messaging that is evergreen, adapting it for social media comments and online reviews, as well.

Don’t Lose Your Brand Voice

When all of this started, brands wanted to make sure they were using the same COVID-19 language public health organisations were sharing to communicate. But now, terms like “social distancing” and “face coverings” are part of our everyday lives; customers get it.

Now you have an opportunity to return to your brand voice to connect with customers in an authentic way that was part of the reason they choose to dine with you in the first place. While it’s still important to clearly communicate necessary safety protocols, restaurants should feel comfortable to do so their way, even if that means having a little bit of fun, customers could no doubt use it.

Stop Cluttering That Inbox

The delivery of how customers receive your information is just as important as the words being delivered. While email is an effective way to share updates with customers, it is important not to rely solely on only this form of communication, but rather, utilise multiple channels of communication to strategically share messages.

Create a FAQ page on your website, where customers can find all the information they need about ordering, menu changes, takeout and delivery, social distancing rules, capacity limits, and more. Showcase this FAQ site on your homepage to easily redirect customers in one click. Also, engage in real time on social media to vet those questions.

Be Open to Feedback

This is new terrain for customers as well as they explore reopening alongside your brand, they’re bound to have some feedback. Be open to this and provide proper channels of communication, such as online surveys. Likewise, it is just as vital to gather the thoughts of franchisees and employees. They’re the ones in the field who know what is working for them and what isn’t.