As parts of the economy begin to open back up, take some time to prepare your employees for what they may face from customers.
Error on the side of caution
People may be nervous to enter your business. Be willing to listen to customers’ concerns. Be prepared to respond abundantly.
Being combative is not a way to earn back business. People are scared or tired. Tempers may flare. But you can only control yourself and set expectations for your team. That is what you should do.
People may even be expecting service at a level the same as pre-COVID. They may even be expecting service at the level of a big business (think free stuff). Set the expectations of your customers by over communicating.
Use tools like blogs, your website, and routine emails to update clients or customers. Let them know what you are working on or what your updated hours and capacity is. It is far better to get ahead of the changes you make to your business due to cirumcstances such a COVID. Communicate if you are under staffed. Explain what the expected wait times are. Then there will be no surprises and they will understand why you are amking the decisions you are.
Responsiveness drives repeat clients, repeat clients drive profits.
In this particular time of COVD or future times of unrest, think through how you can make customers feel safer. For instance, you may have set up 6-feet indicators. You may have all your employees wearing masks. Depending on where you are, you may even be requiring your customers to wear masks. You may be cleaning frequently. I know you have all seen these precautions in one way or another. It is best to utilize them even if not all ofyour client base would want them. It is for those that are nervous or more susceptible. You are showing empathy and sensitivity to their needs as well as those who are not as much at risk.
But what about the pen for signing credit card receipts? There are so many small details to consider when responding to today's circumstances. I go into stores and they take so many things into consideration like social distancing prompts, hand sanitizer every few feet, cleaning of the credit card machine, cleaning of the dressing rooms and the list goes on. However, I step up to purchase something and they hand me the same pen the person in front of me used. My mind goes wild as I think “what?” When this happens, I always say that I will use my own. Perhaps, I should one step further and ask how they keep those pens clean.
The lesson here is, there may be something you have overlooked in all of your precautions and a customer may point it out. Know that there were probably a few customers who noticed it and did not say anything before the one who did. Train your employees to respond with accommodation first. If a customer asks for a safety precaution that you did not notice, adopt that precaution to the best of your ability. It is better to not talk back as your mother might have said when you were younger and respond and accommodate.
Equip your employee to respond with grace and the flexibility to take action. Maybe they can sign on behalf of the customer while the customer watches. Maybe they can wipe down the pens or screen after each use.
The key is not so much what action you choose to take but rather, how your employees react. If they huff and puff or if they get big eyes and just freeze, they have left a bad impression for your customer.
Teach and empower your employees to be responsive and flexible within the boundaries you are comfortable. When you do that, your customers will notice. They might even share about their experience. Only you can set the tone for what they share and whether they will return.
Responsiveness is crucial during normal times of business as we have discussed in the past. (Click here for Is Responsiveness Killing Your Business or You?) As a business owner, you must find some balance. And of course with all the changes our “new norma” is bringing about, you will not make everyone happy. Some will embrace mask wearing while others will scoff. You must do what you feel is best and respond the best you can to your customers. And to do this, you must communicate with them and be transparent on what is going on about what the “new normal” is for your business.