The last few months have been a very confusing time for businesses and customers alike. And, with lockdown restrictions and guidelines changing all of the time, it's likely we'll be navigating this new normal for quite a while.
If you're a business owner with a bricks and mortar location, you might have been struggling to keep potential customers up to date with certain information, such as changing opening hours and health and safety protocols they'll find when they arrive. Fortunately, to help you out, Google has introduced an array of new features for their Google My Business listings, which should help you give everyone the information they need. We've already covered how to make the most of your Google My Business listing in a previous blog post, which outlined how to use this tool before the pandemic was even a speck on the horizon. But, here, we'll look at how you can specifically use these new features while the crisis continues.
Make sure your business hours are always up to date
A lot of companies have had to change their business hours due to the coronavirus pandemic. For example, you might not be able to afford to have all of your staff working their usual hours, so you may only be open on certain days now. Or, if you deep-clean your premises every morning before you open, you might welcome customers through your doors slightly later than usual. If your opening hours have changed due to COVID-19, make sure you update these on your Google My Business listing, so anyone can check in to see when they're able to visit.
You may have also decided to introduce specific shopping hours for the elderly and vulnerable. We know that older people and those with underlying conditions are at more risk of being severely affected by the virus, so they may be very wary of visiting a shop when it could be busy. If you've introduced a special shopping period for people who are particularly at risk, make sure you add this to the "more hours" section of your listing. You can also use this for the likes of takeaway-only periods or times when customers can arrange a delivery.
Update your business description
If your operations have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic — for example, you might run a restaurant that's only offering takeaway orders at the moment or want to let people know you only have outdoor seating available — update your business description so they know.
It's also worth mentioning whether you're currently operating a one-way system in your store or if any of your services are currently off-limits. For instance, buffets and self-service offerings are likely to be out of bounds, as it's hard to keep these sanitised and COVID-secure.
When most businesses are already struggling to get people through their doors, the last thing you want to do is disappoint the people who do pay you a visit. So, it's a good idea to give potential customers all of the information they might need before dropping by.
Create posts to share timely updates
Google My Business listings come with a "posts" feature, which allows you to give updates to potential customers. You might have previously used this feature to announce the likes of new product lines but, during the coronavirus pandemic, it's also worth letting customers know about changes to the way you're working.
Whenever something changes — whether that's your opening hours, how many people are allowed in your shop at once, or what kinds of PPE your staff will be wearing — create a post about it. In these uncertain times, it's important that you give potential customers as much information as possible, so they're confident about paying you a visit. Of course, you might be using your website's blog and your social media accounts to share as much as possible, but you'll also want to keep Google searchers informed, so taking advantage of the Google My Business posts feature is a must, too.
Respond to any questions promptly
You might already have experience of responding to customers' queries through your Google My Business listing. But, if you don't, there's a feature that allows people to submit questions about anything they might be worried or confused about. And, in order to get as many people through your door as possible and ensure people always have the information they need, you'll want to answer them promptly — especially right now, when things are so uncertain and every store or restaurant has its own coronavirus rules.
Chances are, if one person has a particular question, others will too. So, when you're answering someone's question, remember that lots of people are going to see your answer, which means you'll want to be as friendly and helpful as possible. Throw in some extra information you think they might need and make sure they know how appreciative you would be if they paid you a visit.
Add health and safety attributes to your listing
In September, Google introduced health and safety attributes to their Google My Business listings, which means you can give customers a clear picture of how you're operating at a glance.
The tags you can add to your Google My Business listing are designed to give customers clarity and reassurance, so they know exactly what to expect when they pay you a visit. For instance, you can let people know whether they need an appointment and whether they'll be required to get their temperatures checked on arrival. You can also remind them that they need to wear a mask and update them on whether your staff will be wearing masks or visors. Adding these attributes to your Google My Business listing is a great way to ensure people are well-informed about your guidelines and rules before they visit, so they arrive prepared.
You can keep your Google My Business listing updated via your dashboard, and it's well worth keeping on top of things. Right now, when businesses are struggling to get people through their doors and stand out from the local competition, you want to provide potential visitors with all the information they need to be comfortable and confident when dropping by your establishment. Take these tips on board to get the most out of your Google My Business listing, and you should be able to fill them in on everything they need to know.