The current pandemic greatly affects businesses across the country and around the world. Despite the hardships, there are establishments conducting brand engagement by continuing to serve the community, their employees, and others in need during this crisis.
We hope their actions inspire other brands to find ways to continue engaging with customers and fostering loyalty while also supporting the staff, community, and those in need even in uncertain times.
What Hospitality-Based Businesses are Doing
This time of social distancing and isolation means people aren’t gathering together in large groups, which severely impacts operations within the hospitality industry, but some brands are putting their time and effort into new initiatives to continue reaching customers and those who need help during this time.
- Happy Camper, a Chicago-based pizza restaurant is hosting a virtual bingo game through its Instagram Live video. Participants can pay $20 for three bingo cards with the proceeds going to an employee relief fund.
- The Lettuce Entertain You restaurant group created an emergency employee relief fund to help staff during this time with the Melman family (the owners of the group) contributing $1 million to the fund. The company is also providing a “Lettuce Take Care of You” food package for $150 that feeds four people three times a week.
- Real Good Stuff Company – a food and juice shop – continues to serve customers while also supporting local farmers by offering a RealGood Farmer’s Grocery Box for $45.
- The Four Star Restaurant Group continues to serve its customers by providing “Family Meals To-Go” boxes from different restaurants in the organization. Each box is $50 and feeds four people.
- Chicago restaurant Etta is also providing “Family Meals” along with a gift card for customers based on the amount they spent during this time. The restaurant is also fundraising for an employee relief fund of $250,000.
- Fat Rice, another Chicago-based restaurant, closed its doors to the public indefinitely, but is holding a fundraiser with 30% of contributions going to Fat Rice staff laid off due to current events. Customers can donate money or purchase gift cards, pins, or a cooking or bartending consultation as a way to contribute to the fundraiser.
The priority for these businesses is to take care of their own team and suppliers, but they’re also not forgetting to engage with customers. Transparency and communication about the situation and its effect on their operations can convince loyal customers to do what they can and support the business now and into the foreseeable future.
What Service-Based Businesses are Doing
Providing face to face services is difficult during this time, but some brands are trying new methods to engage with customers while their doors are closed.
- Studio Three, a small fitness studio, is using Instagram Live to reach fans and providing a daily workout challenge that not only supports a new lifestyle but also maintains customer engagement. The studio is also using the workouts to create a “30 in 30” challenge where those who complete 30 days of workouts through Instagram Live can win prizes.
- Solidcore continues to support customers by quickly adapting to the circumstances by providing virtual fitness classes at a discounted rate of $15 per class.
- Mitchell and Co., a Chicago salon, is offering a “MitchBox” full of hair and skin care products curated by staff specifically to each individual’s needs. Customers can purchase a small ($24.99) or large ($74.99) box with proceeds going to the salon’s employee relief fund.
- Grocery stores, like Jewel-Osco and Mariano’s as well as many others around the country are also changing operations to continue to serve customers while also keeping staff safe. This comes in the form of new store hours, limiting the amount of people inside at all times, offering curbside pickup, and special hours for seniors.
Despite lockdowns and social distancing, these brands are finding new ways to provide their products and services to customers. This helps foster loyalty and gives people some sense of normalcy despite the circumstances. These operational changes are also another way to gain exposure and trust from new customers who would otherwise not be aware of the business.
What Financial Service Businesses are Doing
Financial health is increasingly a major concern during uncertain times, but large and small institutions alike are trying to ease consumer fears by encouraging mobile banking in addition to other initiatives.
- Ally Bank is allowing current customers who are making auto and home loan payments through the company to defer payments for up to 120 days. The bank is also waiving any fees on “overdrafts, excessive transactions, and expediting checks and debit cards” until July 18.
- Allstate customers can request a special payment plan that allows for a two billing cycle delay on auto, home, and powersports insurance plans. The insurance company will also automatically cover customers’ vehicles if it’s used to “deliver food, medicine, and other goods for a commercial period” during this time.
These businesses are taking a step in the right direction and easing consumer fears when it comes to their finances. Allowing postponements in payments lets customers save or spend their money in more important areas of their lives. These actions also have the added benefit of increasing loyalty and trust while also minimizing churn in the long run.
What Businesses are Doing to Support the Healthcare Industry
Needless to say, the healthcare industry is overwhelmed during this crisis, and we continue to be grateful for their work during this time. Fortunately, many other businesses are stepping up and shifting operations to help the many doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers in a time of need.
- Sweetgreen is offering free salads and bowls to hospitals and healthcare workers through its delivery service in cities like Washington D.C., New York, and Chicago. Healthcare organizations can get one of Sweetgreens “outposts” near their workplace by visiting the Sweetgreen website.
- Car rental company Hertz is offering free vehicle rentals to healthcare workers in New York City until April 30. It’s also supplying Mount Sinai Health System with free vans to assist with the transport of ventilators and other medical supplies.
- Shoe company Crocs is offering free shoes to healthcare workers. A limited amount of pairs are provided every day at 12 p.m. EDT.
- Another shoe brand – Allbirds – is also providing shoes to those in healthcare. In addition, customers can also buy a pair of shoes at a special price and donate a similar pair.
- Chicago spirit makers like Koval Distillery and CH Distillery are producing hand sanitizer for the healthcare workers throughout the community.
Brands like the ones above might not be serving customers directly, but they are getting creative and acting as a beacon to others. By helping those on the front lines of this pandemic, these businesses keep their operations afloat while driving loyalty and attracting new customers. We applaud the efforts of the businesses on this list as well as countless others providing their support to frontline workers.
Technology’s Helpful Role
We now live in a digital-based world, and those staying at home are using apps and websites to continue work and find entertainment. In addition, some tech companies are using their digital product to assist those working in healthcare.
- Airbnb launched a program that would house 100,000 COVID-19 “healthcare professionals, relief workers, and first responders.” Hosts can offer their Airbnb locations as a place to stay or donate money to support responders.
- Talkspace, an online therapy platform, is offering 1,000 free months of online therapy for medical workers. Specifically, those who sign up will get a “free month of online therapy via Talkspace’s Unlimited Messaging Plus plan, which includes unlimited text, video and audio messaging with a licensed therapist.”
Technology has always been about convenience whether it’s in the form of housing or the ability to easily seek mental help. These companies might not be gaining revenue from these actions, but it does help boost their online reputation, which can greatly benefit their position from a consumer perspective once this crisis has passed.
Providing Brand Engagement and Support in A Time of Need
These are just a handful of the many brands that are shifting their focus to be helpful, whether it’s to their staff, those in need, or to customers. The unifying theme is that the day-to-day operations are put on hold, and in its place is a strategy centered on creating a community, providing support, and helping out in any way possible.
These are all great initiatives and people will remember what these businesses are doing now and into the future. Brand reputation is vital for any business. Building it now by supporting the community can bring back major benefits in the long run.