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Featured Story | Written by Rich Shilton
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The new normal: 6 survival strategies for the hospitality sector

The COVID-19 pandemic is tough for many, but the hospitality sector is feeling it more than most. Although there’s light at the end of the tunnel, we’re a long way off from things being ‘business as usual’.

13 May - 5 min read

Many establishments are having to think outside of the box in order to get operations off the ground again. Digital channels – especially social platforms – have become the go to place for brands to inform customers and interact with them. But when you’re used to serving customers face-to-face, how do you transition to a digital first approach? Well, here are Orlo’s top tips for adapting to the new normal.

#1 A long engagement...

With branches closed for the foreseeable, keeping your audience engaged is key to being front of mind when you are able to serve customers again. Take to social and open a dialogue with your followers – let’s face it, that’s where they’re spending a lot of their time anyway. It’s likely that customers will be asking whether you’re going to be providing deliveries or takeaways, when you’ll be reopening and, if you’re lucky (like Wagamama), telling you that they miss you. According to Gartner, failure to respond via social channels can lead to a 15% increase in the churn rate for existing customers, so now’s the time to roll up your sleeves and choose the perfect GIF to respond with. Take the opportunity to make your mark and showcase your brand personality – who knows, you might even grow your following.

#2 Ready. Set...

As the saying goes, every cloud has a silver lining. For marketers whose work loads are a little lighter than usual, this is the perfect opportunity to put on those thinking caps and dream up future campaigns that are sure to wow. Whether it be a witty hashtag for customers to post alongside that first post-lockdown meal (#foodporn), a competition to encourage people to begin engaging with you again or sharing recipes to some of your most loved dishes (shout out to Nando’s for that garlic bread recipe!), now is the time to put your best foot forward, return with a bang and benefit from all that user generated content that is bound to come pouring in!

#3 Knowledge is power

We’re living in the information age, where everyone is used to getting answers at the click of a button. We may be in the midst of a global pandemic, with things changing rapidly, but with life as we know it turned on its head, people are seeking answers. Predicting the types of questions your customers will be asking, before they flood your inbox, isn’t rocket science. Take some time to think this through, document the answers you have and come up with a campaign that you can schedule across channels, to ensure this information reaches the right people, at the right time. Track engagement based on different criteria to give you an idea of the most engaged segments of your audience. Take a look at engagement hotspots based on location – this insight could guide and inform your decisions when looking at reopening branches. 

#4 Let’s get digital, digital

Digital channels – namely Live Chat, WhatsApp, SMS and social platforms – are favoured by many consumers when they have customer care enquiries. Bain & Company found that when companies engage and respond to customer service requests over social media, those customers end up spending 20% to 40% more with the company, so be sure you’re all set up to manage your digital conversations. Whether you need to upskill your employees, set up monitoring streams and alert tags, or modify your validation procedures for replies, ensure you have solid processes in place that empower you and your team to deliver the best possible customer experience. After all – it really could be make or break! 

#5 Signpost on social

With minimal opportunity for face-to-face feedback and queries, and digital customer care channels quickly becoming the first choice, your inbound digital interactions are set to soar. Be sure to use your social accounts as places to signpost your audience. Whether you’re pointing them to opening times and locations, temporary menus or somewhere to track their order, ensure that the information they’re looking for is readily available to them, to try and reduce the number of enquiries your team needs to handle. McDonald’s are winning in this department so far.

#6 Rally the troops

Not only is it important to consider the experience of your customers, but the wellbeing of your employees should be front and centre too – good or bad they’ll always remember how you treated them when the chips were well and truly down! Your heroes on the front line may well have had their daily routines disrupted beyond recognition and be struggling to manage the new norm. Arm them with resources that empower them at this time – whether it’s an FAQ doc with pre-prepared answers to tricky customer enquiries or top tips on making remote working more bearable, be sure to take care of each other.

Think we might be able to help your organisation its prepared for the new normal? We’re on hand and happy to have a chat! Just fill in the form below and an Orlonian will be in touch soon.

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Rich has over 15 years’ experience in running and managing social networks and teams, contact centres and live chat functions. Having worked in B2B and B2C businesses, both from a strategic and operational perspective, Rich has helped businesses use end to end customer journey planning, and tools, for maximum exposure.

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