Eight months ago you might have been operating business as usual. Your bar patrons could linger for hours, your food truck customers sharing the same condiments, and your museum attendants handing out free swag.
But a global pandemic has changed what's "normal" and now you need to adapt to a different operation.
Read on for five tips to help empower your staff — and customers — in this new way of working.
1. Provide signage with the new requirements
If you’re like other business owners, you probably have a rotation of face masks that you use when you head out of your house for the day. And when you step into work, you likely require that everyone — including staff and customers — wear one too.
For retailers, a face mask requirement is one of the simplest changes to ensure safety for your customers and your teams. And you don’t need to rely on local regulations to enforce the requirement.
Post a sign on the door and throughout your establishment to remind customers and staff that masks are mandatory. You can also post signs directing foot traffic or maximum occupancy where applicable. Remember to translate your signs into multiple languages to make it easier to read for customers who don’t speak English as their first language.
2. Assign a trained welcome attendant
When it comes to engaging with your customers, you need to get a little more creative. And on top of that, you want to make sure you’re being mindful and accessible for all types of customers.
Maybe you have visitors who are visually impaired or have difficulty reading. A welcome attendant is a great way to engage with your customers — and enforce new requirements — with a human element.
That person can also answer any questions in case someone doesn’t understand your signage or needs a little more information.
3. Provide free hand sanitizer or face masks
Customers love freebies — and it’s a bonus when the freebie keeps them safe and healthy.
If you manage a grocery store, provide hand sanitizer or wipes by your carts and baskets. Even if you already have staff cleaning regularly, the options allow your customers to do their own additional cleaning if it makes them feel better.
And if you require face masks in your business, provide new, individually-packaged masks for anyone who doesn’t have one. No need to turn away a customer if they forgot their mask. Give them one they can wear and take home for the future.
4. Establish a plan to de-escalate conflict
It’s inevitable that someone will resist your new ways of working. Your first priority is everyone’s safety. And part of that includes making sure your staff feel prepared if a customer becomes difficult.
Active listening, acknowledging the customer’s concerns, and using an empathetic tone when speaking are simple techniques that go a long way toward dealing with difficult customers. As you build your plan, use your communication app to share it with the team.
And for customers, it’s probably time you updated your FAQ page. Post your new ways of working on your website or social media so anyone has access to your new process.
5. Use multiple channels
Internally, you can use your communication app, task lists, or meetings to review your new policies. Maybe even all three. There’s not just one way to communicate with your team, so make sure you’re using a variety of channels to share updates.
And for customers, don’t just rely on your signs outside. For example, if your customers tend to linger at your coffee shop and use your free internet, you can include the updated policies on your internet login page. Maybe even update your napkins or to-go bags with your new protocols. Think outside the box!
You got this
New policies aren’t meant to alienate anyone — they’re meant to keep your staff and customers safe.
And the best part is that you don’t have to come up with a plan alone. Download New Ways of Working for even more tips on how to adapt to this new world.