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Businesses in the COVID-19 Era

Updated: Sep 29, 2020

The most massive unemployment rate since the "Great Depression" small business stimulus packages and loans going to big business. Forced elections during the worst pandemic in modern history. Front-line health workers were working extremely long hours with little or no personal protective equipment. The shortage of ventilators caused General Motors and General Electric to partner for mass production of respirators.

Previous pandemic protocol ignored. Lack of action at the onset of the pandemic grossly disadvantaged the United States, especially in densely populated urban areas. Many states have a state-mandated stay at home orders. Armed mobs were gathering at state capitols to force the laws to recede. Many governors had the supreme court intervened to override the Covid-19 protections. Profit over health as many in government want the economy running at all costs.

The entire meat food supply chain disrupted. Outbreaks in plants and 100 FDA inspectors infected with the virus has affected the chain. Excess chickens killed, cattle still at the ranch due to constrains for processing. Dairy farmers are dumping milk due to school closings in which milk was a staple for children's lunch. Some farmers are donating to food pantries as some food chains have purchased the excess liquid to give as well.


Items limited to two per customer to avoid the hoarding experienced with paper products.

Cleaning and sanitizing products at a premium to non-existent.

Restaurants impacted reduced to curbside pickup or delivery only, no dine-in permitted. The social distancing of six feet has affected all walks of life. Many bank lobbies are closed. Salons, nail, and barbershops closed or opened with some very creative methods. Business capacities for big-box retailers restricted some are forcing customers to wear a mask or purchase them from the store before shopping.


Social distancing at checkout lanes. Customers are obliged to self-serve. Entrances are restricted. Special early hours for the senior population ensuring are most at risk have access to essentials.

As small business owners, we have made a conscious effort to support other small businesses. Some have sent pleas to social media with great success. However, it is challenging to help small companies attempting to make up for lost revenue by increasing prices or reducing services.


Personal Examples of Winning Back Customers


Here are a few personal examples of what companies may need to do to win back consumers.


The first two examples are over ten years old; however, excellent customer service never gets old.


EXAMPLE 1

Experienced in customer service as a store manager sets high expectations. A few memories will always remain with me as a manager for a big box computer store dealing with various customer issues.


One customer with an irreversible visual impairment, eventually causing blindness. He came to the store with his elderly parents. He was a power of attorney for their affairs. At that time, hot-swappable hard drives had just come out. Two identical systems with identical software built, one for the customer, the other stayed in the store as a help desk resource specifically for this customer.


The software "Dragon" we now take for granted, was just released, and a book document reader translator and text magnifier installed. The unit installed at his residence, the Wisconsin Home of the Blind. This customer was given free tech support for ninety days after his training during installation. Read more about how technology has evolved to assist the visually impaired.

EXAMPLE 2

Another example. A local church was able to launch their school computer lab with thirty new computers. Again, ninety days of customer support was supplied and monitored by the salesperson who gained the commission.

The next three examples are what I have recently experienced in customer services.


EXAMPLE 1

The other day, I was torn between my two favorite burger establishments and considered it my civic duty to support family-owned businesses. Place a single order, a cheeseburger with the works, large fry, and a root beer float, twenty dollars. Up nearly four dollars from my last visit and the quality of the food had changed. This tactic is not the way to win back your customers.

EXAMPLE 2

I went searching for another small business to support, very friendly and appreciative of the customers. I noticed a refund on a restaurant charge before my credit card provider notified me. It appeared to have been an honest mistake due to the heavy traffic of orders. Hey, I found a new home for pizza. Both businesses serve our favorite gourmet root beer Sprecher's. Also, the pizza establishment has a variety of ice cream from a local dairy. We missed the delivery point by maybe a mile, but the 7-minute drive was worth it.


EXAMPLE 3

My car was serviced just last week from a long-time small business, which ties to another small business we frequent. The owner came to my car to inform me that his father-in-law had contracted the coronavirus. I knew him from a young age as one of our clients. We conducted business meetings at the restaurant as well as having our wedding reception in their lower level. We were considered family. As soon as we learned of the news, we went to support their business.


Final Say


Bottom-line, the building of your activity on receipts, profit, loss reports, and not relationships and customer rapport destines the company for failure. The benefits will manifest by treating the customer as the most important client that you have. Many small contractors will reach a certain level of success and neglect the smaller clients that kept their lights on. Many will not look back or even contact the clients to assist struggling businesses that helped them.

If a small client can give you three to five referrals, he has more weight than your one big project. The smaller clients are where the relationships manifest. The larger clients have many established relationships making it more challenging for small businesses to compete without an introduction. Publicity can be a blessing or a curse regardless of how great your website is, the custom wrap on your truck, or the name dropping of prominent clients. It is the small consumers who carry the economy. Late to appointments, substandard work, and price gouging hurts everyone. The one percent have and will continue to prosper regardless of the economy. In a weak economy, the one percent can purchase at pennies on the dollar while the middle class is counting pennies.

At Info eNConnect, we continuously look at our business model to stay abreast of changes in the market. In short, the moral of this story is do not take advantage of your customers, old and new. You will not get another chance post-COVID-19. Let Info eNConnect keep you connected as well.


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