Reignite your business with SMS as COVID-19 restrictions ease

Cities around the world are beginning to celebrate the easing of COVID-19 restrictions. The pandemic forced many industries to adapt business operations or face a temporary shutdown to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. Now, after somewhat flattening the curve, countries are gradually rolling back restrictions in the hopes of boosting their economies.

COVID-19 has undeniably taken a toll on the global economy and impacted individual livelihoods. In the United States, national unemployment stands at 13.3% as of May 2020, compared to 3.6% in May 2019. And in Australia, seven out of ten businesses have experienced a decrease in revenue due to the pandemic.

Bulk SMS and staying connected

Restrictions and lockdowns affected businesses worldwide. SMS has become a vital tool, allowing companies to maintain communication and inform customers of business continuity and contactless offerings. Now that some regulations are easing and businesses are slowly reopening, SMS remains an essential and direct communication channel that customers expect.

From welcome back messages to updates on new business operations, accessible communication has never been more important. Implementing automated SMS with a robust text messaging gateway is crucial to maintain customer touchpoints and inform them of new operational procedures without delay.

Related: 'Communicating during times of crisis'

Streamline your communication strategy with automated SMS functions

Keywords and trigger responses

Promptly respond to queries by setting up automated triggers with pre-written responses to specific keywords.

Merge Send

Personalize messages en masse with custom-fields that let you input customer names, local stores, and more.

Scheduled bulk SMS campaigns

Prepare your customers for reopening by sending a bulk SMS campaign detailing business open dates and times.

Automated reminders and notifications

Automatically notify patrons of their upcoming bookings and appointments with direct reminders scheduled to be sent directly to their device.

Utilizing SMS solutions ensure your staff and customers are notified of in-store regulations such as capacity, social distancing, and hygiene protocols. With a sophisticated bulk SMS API, businesses can seamlessly integrate SMS capabilities within their existing systems such as CRM, CMS, and other administrative software. Your customers will appreciate the ease and simplicity of automated SMS. Your business will also save time and resources to focus on essential operations.

Bulk SMS solutions for every business

Companies and their customers alike look forward to life returning to normal. However, many health and safety regulations related to COVID-19 remain in place. For example, social distancing must be maintained at all times, room capacities cannot exceed state/local regulations, and hospitality businesses must document all customers’ contact details for possible contact tracing. Utilize the power of SMS to inform customers and staff of operational changes without delay.

How your business can benefit from mobile messaging

Health and Fitness

Gyms, yoga classes, and indoor personal training are slowly reopening under strict limitations. Depending on room capacity, controlled access to shared spaces in gyms is vital for the health of your members and staff. Managing numbers and hygiene is simple when implementing a schedule, strict hygiene practices, and rostering confirmations to prevent no-shows and mix-ups.

Use SMS to better manage operations and help you connect with customers:

  • Confirm bookings with Two-way SMS where recipients can reply ‘YES’ or ‘NO’ when prompted to confirm session times.
  • Send regular health protocol reminders such as wiping down gym equipment and staying at home if presenting flu-like symptoms.
  • Craft personalized messages to ‘check-in’ and let members know they are valued.
  • Inform members whether you offer online classes or exercise regimes to supplement gym sessions during limited timeslots.

Hospitality

While many restaurants and cafes remained open for delivery and takeaway orders, bars and pubs were forced to close their doors once the novel coronavirus was declared a pandemic.

Fortunately, in some countries, hospitality establishments can begin to provide sit-down services. For instance, Australia’s bars and pubs may open under the proviso that meals accompany alcohol consumption and that patrons remain seated.

As regulations differ throughout countries and states, it’s essential to notify customers of how your business will be operating. To easily manage numbers and seating times, many hospitality establishments are only taking online bookings. Implement SMS into your processes to keep patrons informed on what to expect when dining in and the health protocols for staff and customers.

Keep customers happy and up to date with SMS by sending:

  • Bulk messages to all customers notifying that you will be offering sit-down services
  • Updates on opening hours changes
  • Booking confirmations with the number of registered diners (require a ‘YES’ or ‘NO’ response, or risk cancellation)
  • OH&S protocol reminders for both staff and dine-in guests
  • Details informing customers of any available delivery services
  • Messages of gratitude for the ongoing support of your patrons

Education

Schools and universities in the USA are largely maintaining remote learning. However, many schools in Australia and the UK are reintroducing on-site schooling, staggering lunch breaks, and start and finish times.

It’s predicted that schools in the USA will remain closed until September. With that, pupils and teachers are maintaining regular online contact with video calls, online classes, and check-ins via SMS and OTT messaging. It’s become increasingly evident how essential communication and digital tools are in the education system throughout the pandemic and beyond.

Now more than ever, students and their parents must be updated on all changes to school procedures in real-time. Educational institutions must inform which days pupils are required to attend, classroom capacities, and any health alerts on campus.

Assure parents and students with regular and open communication. Utilize the flexibility of SMS to:

  • Notify relevant year levels of class schedules with segmentation tools via an SMS platform
  • Address emergencies with bulk text alerts
  • Reinforce mandatory hygiene practices with SMS reminders
  • Invite feedback from parents using Two-way SMS for any queries or concerns
  • Send any positive news/updates on student progress to help boost morale and engagement

Related: ‘Essential communication tools for educators’

Retail and beauty

As restrictions relax, retail stores and beauty salons must adapt operations to adhere to COVID-19 regulations. Retail businesses and salons by nature can involve close contact between staff members and customers and contact with items for sale.

While online sales in the US surged by 49% during the pandemic, many floor staff were left jobless when stores began to close. Utilize SMS for internal communication channels to engage staff as well as optimize store management and operations. Give your business the best possible re-start by implementing SMS into your communication strategy.

Make sure your SMS communications feature vital information for patrons and staff, including:

  • Peak in-store times to encourage customers to visit during off-peak hours
  • Contactless payment options
  • Entry conditions, i.e., waiting outside the salon or store until notified by a staff member
  • Specific break times for staff to better manage store access and capacity
  • Health and hygiene procedures upon entry such as mandatory hand sanitizer usage
  • Guidelines around touching items if patrons do not intend to purchase

Automation and contactless service

Many industries throughout the current health crisis have had to adjust. With the endeavor to limit person-to-person contact and prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, businesses have begun to automate operations that were once facilitated by human contact. Brain Corp, a company that makes automated floor cleaner software, revealed that retailers were using the robots 13% more than they were pre-pandemic.

Hospitality establishments have also begun to streamline and automate processes with apps such as Me&u. The app’s creator, Stevan Premutico, said inquiries into the app increased 1200 percent in the last three weeks of May. Premutico also surveyed 500 Australians, which revealed that 94% of customers don’t want to touch cash, and 64% don’t want to touch menus. With the Me&u app, customers simply tap their phone on a beacon at their table to make the menu appear on their screen. Ordering and payments for the whole table are then facilitated solely through the app.

As customers seek more and more contactless options, businesses must revise how business is conducted day-to-day. Mobile phones, apps, and SMS are some of the most accessible ways companies can begin to automate procedures, including bookings, payments, and customer support.

While we remain vigilant and cautious, the anticipation of a new normal is still an exciting and hopeful prospect for business big and small. For now, it may not be business as usual but it is a step in the right direction. And digital solutions are here to facilitate a new way of interacting with one another. Guiding companies and their customers through these changes.