COVID-19 Restaurant Tips: Texting Ideas to Ease Customer Communication

Diners enjoying a meal together

Stay-at-home orders are now slowly being lifted in different parts of the country. While some restaurants are given the go-ahead by local officials to re-open amid the coronavirus outbreak, others in areas where businesses must continue to provide limited service will remain closed for dine-in options.

Whether your restaurant is continuing with take-out and delivery options only or you’re preparing to re-open dining rooms, it’s essential to effectively communicate the latest updates to customers to ensure a smooth experience with zero surprises.

Here are a few ways texting-for-business software can help your restaurant maintain safe service and ease communication between diners and your employees.

Ease contactless delivery

Text details about customer deliveries, including arrival time, updates and hand-off processes. Providing quick information over a text message is much more convenient for customers than sending it over an email where it could easily get overlooked.

If the customer is placing an order by phone, you could ask them if they’d like to receive any of the above information in a text message so they have a written record of it.

Finally, consider having your delivery driver text customers at the time of arrival so that customers can text instructions for drop-off.

Communicate safe ordering and pickup options

Ease the phone lines by allowing customers to place orders via text. You can include these instructions on your website, Yelp page, Google Business page, etc. Reply with a confirmation of their order and detail where they can pick it up once it’s ready.

If you’re offering curbside pickup, customers can text your business when they arrive. Some restaurants ask customers to provide the make and model of their vehicle for quick identification.

Related Content: COVID-19 Insights for Business with CEO John Lauer

Communicate dine-in seating procedures

When the time comes for your restaurant to re-open, things likely won’t look the way they did before stay-at-home orders were set in place.

When your state or county allows dine-in service, you may be required to limit the number of people dining at once or use only outside seating in order to maintain proper social distancing.

Ensure that your customers know exactly what to expect before dining in. You’ll want to provide this information on your website, social media pages, or anywhere else your customers may find you online.

Texting software for businesses can let you say a lot in one text compared to a 160-character SMS. But if you’ve got a lot to say, consider including a link that directs customers to a dedicated page on your website that details complete guidelines and considerations for diners before they make a reservation or step foot in your restaurant.

If your restaurant is located in a high-traffic area, consider putting up a simple window sign that advertises a texting keyword that passersby can text in to receive information about dine-in options.

Manage contact tracing with texting instead of placing phone calls

Some states or counties may be asked to adhere to contact tracing when re-opening. Contact tracing can be carried out in various ways, but in its basic form, it’s the process of keeping customer logs (such as names and phone numbers) so that customers can be contacted if they were in proximity of another patron or employee who has either tested positive for COVID-19 or been in contact with someone who has.

Making those phone calls can be time-consuming and will probably not be something your employees will look forward to doing. Using a non-invasive text message will save time and take the pressure off employees if the time comes to make that important outreach.

Send marketing promotions to encourage sales

Your restaurant may not be as busy as it was pre-coronavirus as more patrons are choosing to cook at home. Encourage orders with a discount they can redeem over text via SMS marketing.

Related content: 56 Text Templates Businesses Can Use Right Now

Provide an after-hours response when you’re not available

Customers may text your restaurant after hours. Set up an Auto-Reply message that lets them know when you’ll be open and available to return their text. It’s an easy way to set expectations and maintain communication when you’re not able to answer right away.

Related Content: Text Message Response Time and How to Set an Expectation With Your Customers

Send surveys to gather valuable feedback

Get feedback about your safety and customer service practices with texting. Once you begin gathering a list of opt-in contacts, send a text with a link to a survey that customers can fill out from their mobile phone.

As with any survey, the easier you can make it on your customers to complete a survey, the more likely they are to participate. COVID-19 is an especially unique opportunity for engagement as more of us are on our mobile phones more than ever while we’re at home.

Keep employees in the know

Texting can be greatly beneficial for employee communication. Use group texts to quickly share critical updates with employees, and allow them to reply and reach out regarding shift availability, urgent questions, etc.

Related Content: How Zipwhip Customers Improve Internal Communication with Texting

Ease your restaurant’s communication throughout the coronavirus crisis with a free trial of Zipwhip’s texting-for-business software. Learn more here.

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