4 ways to boost customer engagement before you reopen

Planning ahead for 2024
October 15, 2021

Adapting your class-based business was a necessity throughout COVID, from maintaining safety on-site to navigating the challenges caused by numerous closures. Though COVID is on the decline, your facility may need to temporarily close in the future for unforeseen circumstances, such as electrical faults or adverse weather conditions. Should that happen, it's important that you have a reopening strategy in place.

One of the key places to start with your reopening strategy is with your customers, the bread and butter of your business. Here are four ways to inspire engagement online and continue to deliver high levels of customer service.

Provide regular updates across customer-facing channels

As a business that provides a service, your customers need to be at the front and centre of your reopening plans. Maintaining customer engagement through channels such as email, social media and SMS keeps everyone updated about your scheduled reopening and continues to nurture relationships between you and your loyal customers.

Solve your customers’ problems before they even ask

In the same way that websites have an FAQ page, you should make a list of reopening questions your customers are likely to ask and answer them across your digital communication channels. Not only does this save you and your staff time by not having to deal with individual phone calls and emails, but it also creates transparency - something that is more important today than ever before.

Here are some potential questions you might want to answer:

  • What date and time are you reopening? While covering this, you can also inform customers of your opening hours, even if they’ve remained the same.
  • What will happen to the booking(s) I made pre-closure? Let customers know if their bookings have been rescheduled, cancelled, or credited to their account.
  • How can I book a makeup? If you offer catch-up sessions, direct your customers to where they can make these bookings. You could make this even easier for them by sharing a simple step-by-step screen recording.
  • When will I be billed? Fee collection and memberships vary across schools and businesses so make sure your customers know exactly when they will be billed and by how much (if the amount has changed or if you’ve carried fees over from pre-closure).
  • Where can I see your latest updates? If you’re sending this information in an email, include links to your website news page and social media channels so customers can keep up to date with what’s new.

Use merge tags and strong subject lines to boost open rates

Bulk email sends are perfect for saving time but without an element of personalisation, they can appear impersonal and cold. Use merge tags to address your customer by their first name and, if relevant, segment your database to tailor emails even more. For example, you might run classes for children and classes for adults - you could segment this customer data with one email aimed at parents and the other aimed at your adult students.

Your customers are much more likely to open an email with an appealing or informative subject line. Without this, you run the risk of the email getting lost in a cluttered inbox, being ignored or getting straight-up deleted. Consider marking reopening-related emails as important to encourage people to read. For other emails such as online bookings, pick an attention-grabbing headline like ‘Be the first to book’ to create a sense of urgency.

Create meaningful connections by inspiring customer interaction

To encourage customers to engage with your content (particularly on social media), share a mix of posts that inform, educate or entertain. Examples could include:

  • Product updates (such as new equipment in time for reopening)
  • Snaps of staff during the closure and how they are keeping healthy and fit (for example, swim instructors might share a quick HIIT workout or a yoga teacher could share an image of them practising a pose)
  • Short, bite-sized tutorials (for example, a dance teacher might share a dance routine in three 60-second parts)
  • A thought-leadership podcast or blog article you’ve written about your specific role/industry
  • A poll asking customers what day/time they’d prefer a certain class to take place
  • Throwback images or videos, such as your facility before it was renovated or a popular class that will be returning post-closure
  • Sharing user-generated content, such as a student’s flexibility progress over the closure period

Prior to reopening, it’s important to have processes in place to manage your customer communications and continue developing meaningful relationships off-site. Check out our free checklist for more reopening tips, including booking management, revenue generation and automation tools.

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