How To Overcome The Two Big Challenges SMBs Face As They Reopen

After months of stay-at-home orders and closed doors, small businesses across the globe are starting to reopen. But the world they face today is drastically different from the one they were operating in just a few months ago. To succeed in this new world, small and mid-sized businesses need strong resources and support systems.

According to Kim Dixon, COO of FedEx Office, SMBs face two main challenges as they reopen:

1. Managing regulations and customer expectations. Businesses need to follow safety guidelines, but it can be confusing to know which regulations are the most accurate and up to date. On top of that, changing customer expectations place a higher emphasis on health and cleanliness. SMBs face the challenge of making sure they have clean environments and clearly communicating their practices and protocols to customers.

2. Getting business back. After being closed or partially closed for months, small businesses have to grow awareness with new marketing efforts and clear communication. They also have to adjust how they operate and the marketing materials their customers use in store, such as switching to single-use menus or individual flyers.

Overcoming these challenges can be overwhelming to small and mid-sized businesses, especially as they traverse an unknown world and anxious customers. As FedEx Office navigates its own transition in the COVID world, it also creates experiences to help its customers with their reopenings.

According to Dixon, the first priority for FedEx Office and other SMBs should be to create a clean and safe environment for customers and employees. In most cases, that means establishing new health and cleaning protocols, switching from reusable to disposable or digital items and adding tools like hand sanitizer and face masks. Once a business has created its cleaning processes internally, it can communicate those practices with customers through direct marketing, mailers and email and social media updates.

Within the businesses, many items need to be rearranged or spaced out to accommodate social distancing. Many small businesses use social distancing floor graphics to make sure customers are properly spread out. Customers won’t return to a store if they don’t feel safe and clean. Establishing processes and clearly communicating them with customers is one of the most powerful marketing messages during the COVID pandemic.

FedEx Office also sets the example to its SMB customers of how to interact with their own customers. FedEx Office created special pricing and promotions to help during tough economic times and made in-demand resources, such as templates for social distancing signs, easily available to customers. Similarly, SMBs can follow the example to make things as seamless as possible for customers.

FedEx Office also listens to customers and regularly implements their feedback to eliminate pain points and improve the overall experience. Customers weren’t satisfied with the design offerings, so FedEx Office partnered with design leader Canva to make it fast and cost-efficient for brands to create beautifully designed materials. To survive in the current global landscape, SMBs need to listen to their customers and find ways to make their lives easier by eliminating pain points.

Small and mid-sized businesses face an uphill battle as they reopen in the middle of a global pandemic. But finding strong partners and resources and clearly communicating with customers can help them overcome their biggest challenges.


This week’s podcast is sponsored by Zendesk.

Things are a little weird right now. The sudden change in the world—and the world of business—has created new challenges. A lot of companies are struggling to keep up with what matters most: their customers. Zendesk is here to help. They put together a six-month complimentary Remote Support Bundle. To learn more visit

Blake Morgan is a customer experience futurist, keynote speaker and the author of the bestselling book The Customer Of The Future. Sign up for her weekly newsletter here.

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