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Staying Connected with Customers While Social Distancing

Social distancing guidelines forced many businesses to change the way they interact with their customers. Businesses deemed non-essential may not have been required to close their doors, but many were no longer allowed to welcome customers into their facilities. Even as businesses start to open, the distance can create barriers, both physical and mental, to serving customers.
Maintaining relationships with customers is a foundation for many small businesses. According to the global management consulting firm Bain & Company, the average repeat customer spends 67 percent more between months 31 and 36 with a business than they do between months zero and six. That highlights how vital it is for small businesses to maintain long-term relationships with repeat customers. That can be more challenging while social distancing, but the following are three ways for small businesses to stay connected with their customers even when those customers are not allowed to enter their facilities.
1. Keep lines of communication open. A recent 4A Research survey of 1,000 consumers found that 43 percent of respondents said it's reassuring to hear from brands they know and trust during the pandemic. Small business owners can keep in touch with customers via email, sending weekly updates thanking customers for their business and even sharing tips to make social distancing more pleasant. Use every outlet you can to stay in touch with your customers. 
2. Think creatively. Face-to-face interactions with customers drive many small business owners to keep doing what they're doing. Such interactions may not be possible while social distancing, but small business owners who get creative can still interact with their customers. For example, fitness center owners can create how-to workout videos for members and post them to their social media pages. Garden center owners can create how-to gardening videos and post them to their websites, social media pages or even create their own YouTube channels. Utilizing social media in this age is vital to keeping in touch with your customers. 
3. Volunteer in your community. Small business owners may have extra time on their hands until business returns to normal. In the meantime, volunteering in the community can be a great way to continue serving your neighbors. Sew masks for aging customers and neighbors who may not be able to do so on their own. Or organize an effort by local small businesses to provide meals for first responders. Volunteering is a great way for small business owners to make use of their extra free time (if any) and show their customers that they're committed to the community even in the most difficult circumstances.
Social distancing has been hard on many small businesses. But small business owners can take various steps to maintain connections with their customers until they can open their doors once again, and find new and creative ways of operating and serving the public.