Regardless of your industry, the current uncertain times are difficult for businesses. During times of crisis, customers expect continuous and clear communication on how Covid-19 is impacting your brand and the measures you have taken to minimize the risk.
A new McKinsey Global Survey has revealed that Covid-19 has accelerated digital adoption by several years and this trend is here to stay. Consumers have increasingly moved to online channels to find businesses and make purchase decisions.
Customers have taken to Google to find what’s changed with their favorite businesses. To be more specific, they are referring to a business’s Google My Business (GMB) profile for up-to-date information.
To engage and retain your customers it makes sense to update and optimize your Google My Business listing. Doing so will help keep your customers aware of your:
- Current hours of operation
- Temporary closures
- Changes in an operation like ‘takeaway only’ (for restaurants)
- Proactive measures you have taken to ensure their safety and hygiene
As businesses navigate through temporary store closures, special hours, and remote working, you also need to prioritize exceptional customer service. Google My Business (GMB) offers several features to empower businesses to stay connected with their audience and update them with vital information.
Use these sections on GMB to keep customers informed.
- Business Name
- Temporarily Closed and Business Hours
- Contact Number
- Website Links
- More Hours
- Support Links
- Questions and Answers
- Google Posts
Here's how you can use GMB to stay competitive during these unprecedented times.
1. Update Your Business Description
Your business description is what differentiates you from your competition and informs customers about your business - its mission, history, and the services and products offered. However, this 750-character business summary needn’t remain constant. In fact, during the COVID-19 era, this section should speak to customers about the pandemic and the ensuing changes in business operations.
Make sure your business description shares whether your business is:
- Only available for takeout or delivery
- Providing extra services to the community
- Services are delayed
Mention how your business has been affected by the pandemic and share the precautionary measures you’re taking to ensure the safety of your customers. This is also a great opportunity to talk about the new services and the delivery options available to the customers.
2. Create a COVID-19 Post
Businesses are increasingly sharing Covid-19 posts to connect with customers and generate traffic from shoppers. If you haven’t used this feature yet, it’s time to do so!
Google allows you to share details related to business hours, changes in regular services, safety precautions, out-of-stock or in-stock announcements, and other updates on your business profile. These Covid-19-related posts will be pinned to the top of your GMB listing, making it easier for customers to see the updates.
Also, create a coronavirus impact page on your website and add a link to your GMB listing. This page should mention the following -
- How Covid-19 changed your business, the changes you made to overcome challenges, and how it will impact the customer
- The locations that are closed and let customers know how they can help
- Availability of gift cards or announce special promotions or discounts to encourage them to buy
- The relief or charitable efforts your business is participating in
It’s critical to share how you are handling things with your employees. For instance, a remote working company can share the measures they are taking to keep their remote team safe and healthy.
Follow these steps to post an announcement related to COVID-19.
- Sign in to Google My Business
- From the menu, click on Posts
- Now, choose the ‘COVID-19 update’
- Fill in all the necessary fields (hours of operation, changes, updates, and requests for support) and preview your post before publishing it
3. Mark Your Business ‘Temporarily Closed’
The pandemic forced many businesses to shut operations, offices, and outlets at the request of the government and to stop the spread of the pandemic. A majority of organizations have shown their remote readiness by encouraging their employees to work from home.
Thus, to indicate whether or not a business has closed doors, Google introduced the ‘Temporarily Closed’ label.
Now, businesses can use this label to indicate their status from their Google dashboard. Also, as Google’s Danny Sullivan confirmed, marking yourself ‘Temporarily Closed’ will not harm rankings or visibility.
4. Remember to Check Your GMB Listing Daily
These times call for real-time response, and Google changes GMB events, rules, and best practices daily.
For instance, Google is using government information to auto-label listings as closed. In such a case, if your business is open, you need to connect to your GMB dashboard, in the ‘Info’ section and click on ‘Mark as opened.’
Remember to check your listing regularly to stay on top of such updates.
Everyone from small businesses to large corporations has been affected by Covid-19. They have had to quickly adapt to changing customer preferences and habits in real-time. Since customers are increasingly using Google to stay updated on their favorite brands, it’s important to optimize your GMB listing to clearly communicate your status and effectively navigate Covid-19.
Use the tips shared above to keep an open line of communication with and engage your customers during these unprecedented times.