The COVID-19 pandemic seemed so far away until today. In the US and Canada, we're seeing more confirmed cases, large public events being cancelled, and schools being shut down until further notice. Verizon, Apple, T-Mobile, Shaw, and more have already taken action and closed their retail locations.
This all has cascading effects on consumer confidence and leaves wireless retailers wondering:
"What do we do?"
While we don't know how long this will last, we can certainly provide some insight on putting together an action plan. This is an opportunity to distinguish yourself as a leader in wireless retail.
Communicate with customers regularly
When in crisis mode, you need to go on the offensive and be proactive with customer outreach. Consumers will be reluctant to visit your retail locations so you have to focus on empathy rather than trying to create selling opportunities.
Wireless retailers should rethink their lifecycle strategies to be more in line with the current climate.
By repositioning your value-add to the current climate, you naturally become more customer-centric. Obviously you have the objective of closing a sale to get that revenue and commission, but you'll have to work within carrier rules and get creative to make that happen.
Provide relief and be part of the community
Similar to back-to-school backpacks, deliver care packages to your customers. You can reach out over text to make sure they're ok, send them the care package, then follow up with a text to check in.
Make sure devices are fully functional
If a full lockdown occurs, you want to make sure your customer's device works as intended. Screen time is surely skyrocketing so simply asking how their battery life is holding up goes a long way.
Educate customers about unlimited data plans and waived late fees
Some carriers realize that their customers are relying on their network to ensure they have critical connections with family, friends, and emergency service providers. Be sure to reiterate uncapped data changes and waived late fees to your customers.
Push your customers to an online portal, if possible
For retailers with an online presence, use serialized promo codes to track conversions (rep, outlet, conversation, campaign, etc.).
Use your stores as pick-up points and book appointments
In the rare case that customers are ready to transact and completing the sale online is not possible, try to complete 95% of the sale remotely. Reserve in-store experiences for quick order pick ups and offer "limited" or "no touch" service to keep your customers and employees safe.
How do you consolidate "social distancing", reduced store hours, outright store closures, and in-store transactions? Get in the habit of booking appointments. Designate a certain period of the day for one-to-one appointments with customers. Ideally, you should only allow one customer in your store at a time.
Only allow your customers to pay with credit card, debit card, or gift card until the crisis subsides. Exchanging cash in times like these will only exacerbate the outbreak.
A crisis is a time to enhance relationships with the communities in which you operate. Show empathy and keep all lines of communication open.