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Is your website pandemically correct?

Is your website pandemically correct?

Most businesses that are fortunate enough to still be open probably figured out quite quickly that they needed to adapt their businesses to cope with the COVID-19 Pandemic. Restaurants immediately started to feature takeout, delivery and curbside pickup. Retail stores installed plexiglass barriers and signs to encourage social distancing. Hotels and resorts implemented new cleaning regimens and streamlined check-ins to minimize customer contact. I recently had a headlight and rear wiper repaired while I sat, masked in my vehicle, while masked technicians serviced my vehicle and took payment via credit card without ever handling cash or my card.

So, chances are, you have already taken steps to adapt your business or organization to protect the safety of your customers and employees so you can get back to business.

But what about your website?

If you haven’t updated your site to reflect the changes you’ve made to your business, you still have work to do. Nobody knows how long this plague will be with us or what the long-term impacts on business will be after COVID-19 is subdued, so it’s never to late to update your site for the new reality.

Here are a few examples of Pandemic Proofing your web site:

Clearly State Your Policies

First, if you have taken steps to safeguard your customers and employees, publicize those steps on your website. Let’s face it, the public’s perception of the COVID pandemic is hardly universal. Reactions range everywhere from totally dismissal to extreme germophobia. Obviously, you can’t easily please both sides of this spectrum, so you need to do what you think is right and firmly but politely state your policy on your website.

Expand Your Ecommerce

If you are in retail, add online shopping. The businesses that are thriving right now are the big ecommerce shops like Amazon, that were perfectly positioned to take advantage of the synergy between e-commerce and social distancing. If you sell products in your store, put them online and enable your customers to pick them up curbside. It’s a big undertaking, but start with your most popular or most timely products (such as hand sanitizer, masks and disinfectants) and gradually build your online inventory.

Similarly, I would advise restaurants to add online ordering to their websites. Don’t get lulled into a sense of complacency as indoor dining opens up. There is no guarantee things are going to stay opened, and there is no telling how many of your patrons may NEVER again feel safe dining in. Adding an online ordering option just opens up a new revenue stream that you might otherwise miss out on entirely.

Improve Your Site’s Salesmanship

Online commerce will likely skip an important step in your normal sales process – the ability of you or your staff to personally sell to your customers. Your static website, probably isn’t going to get this job done with a couple photos and a price tag in your shopping cart. Consider adding features like promotional videos and presentations or online chat to give you greater opportunities to explain the benefits of your product or service without face-to-face contact.

Expand Your Intranet

Improve your ability to communicate to your staff through a robust intranet. Share your COVID policies and procedures and post timely notices regarding changing pandemic developments and regulations. It’s easier, safer and less expansive to post this sort of information on a secure site than it is to produce posters and handouts. You can also use secure online communications to transfer sensitive data between you and your customers without postal delays and in person visits.

Examine Your Messaging

I would advise every business owner or organization to review their website to determine if the messaging is appropriate given the current circumstances. Common phrases such as “stop by to see us” or hard sell messages may not be appropriate right now. Be careful of your tone. You don’t want to come across as trying to profit on a crisis, but rather offering solutions to your customer’s problems. Avoid politics as much as possible. For every customer you might gain by taking any overtly political stand, you are likely to lose one on the other side of the debate. Stay measured and reassuring and stay true to your own principles and overall business philosophy.

Need help navigating through it all? Give us a call, or drop us an e-mail. We’d be happy to help.