During the past seven days of Lockdown, we have realized how the livelihood of small businesses is crucial in South Africa, especially in challenging times. That’s why we are already seeing businesses coming together to share information, connect and support each other, their employees and their customers during the outbreak of COVID-19.
Below, are five things that owners of small businesses can consider while they plan their 21-day shutdown strategies:
Keeping customers safe
Stay up to date by following credible, official sources such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the government health department so you can respond quickly to changes that could affect you or your customers. Follow the WHO on Facebook or Instagram or use the WhatsApp Support Line: 0600-123456.
Staying in touch with your customers
Proactively share important information with your customers using email, your website or social media messaging platforms. You might include information about the measures you’re taking to make your premises or products safe, or how you will handle customer inquiries if there are expected delivery delays.
Try hosting online events
In case you need to postpone or cancel any planned events as a result of the outbreak, connect with your customers directly on their phone with an online webinar, organise live sessions using social channels, record videos and podcasts, and leverage social media posts and instant messaging.
Prepare a customer service plan
To be responsive and transparent with your customers during these challenging times, prepare for incoming questions and requests. Consider drafting templated responses for your emails or set up instant-reply messages with information you expect your customers will be looking for.
Provide a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs)
Prepare a list of responses for questions your customers are likely to ask and provide as much detail and reassurance as possible in your answers.
The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted traditional working and schooling, leaving thousands of people practising self-isolation and social distancing in order to curb the spread across Africa. To make spending all this extra time at home a little more bearable and financially viable, some of the continents biggest mobile telecoms providers have introduced a whole host of digital solutions.
MTN Ghana has introduced an educational ‘care package’ that gives subscribers access to online learning channels. This programme aims to support education from home whilst also keeping the youth entertained. Likewise, in South Africa, Vodacom has significantly increased server capacity to ensure that its e-School is available for all of its subscribers. The online platform covers learning material in all 11 official languages from Grade R to 12. Content includes assignments, quizzes and learning videos that are fully aligned with the CAPS curriculum.
The exchange of banknotes is one way that COVID-19 is spread, says the World Health Organisation (WHO). With this in mind, CEO of MTN Zambia, Bart Hofker says “[there’s an] urgent need to go cashless to slow down the spread of the virus”.
It’s for this reason that both MTN Zambia and Kenya’s own Safaricom have zero-rated mobile money transfers. Both network providers are said to be working closely with their counties respective banks to ensure that the move to cashless transactions is as seamless and widely accepted as possible.
Telkom South Africa has pledged nearly $850 thousand to bolster the country’s primary healthcare efforts in the battle against Covid-19. Making the announcement, Telkom Group Chief Executive, Sipho Maseko said the funds will be used to support healthcare workers who are at the frontline in SA’s most vulnerable communities. Telkom is inviting other South African corporations and members of the public to contribute to strengthening the public health system.
Sources: Jenna Delport, and Luis Monzon