Six months into the COVID pandemic and we’re all still trying to figure out what’s going on. What is this COVID business? Should masks be required? Will kids be going back to school? Do we need goggles?
What we do know is that a lot of customers are concerned about their health and the health of those around them. Because of that, there are several things you should be doing (and marketing) in your business.
First, it’s not only important to change business processes to help ease customers’ worries over safety but it’s equally important to make sure that you tell customers and market what you’re doing. You’re changing how you do business. Make sure your customers know what you’re doing.
Offer Cashless Checkouts
This goes beyond encouraging creadit card usage. Cashless, contactless checkouts that use digital wallet programs/apps instead of cards mean less physical exchange between your employees and the customer. While not every one of your customers will feel comfortable with or use this technology, for those who do, they will appreciate it.
These days people don’t want to touch a doorknob. Ideally, you would install auto-open doors, but this is not always feasible. You can also install foot openers/pulls or swinging doors for a less expensive, non-electronic solution.
At the very least, change out the doorknobs so that people can work them with an elbow and not need to turn a knob. Customers do not feel comfortable touching/turning surfaces right now. Make it easier on them.
Social distancing/maintaining 6-foot distance is important to customer safety and well-being but you should also look at ways to work on flow and congestion in your place of business. Few people recognize the one-way aisles you’ve stickered the floor with.
Instead, look at your cash register/payment area. If your register is at the end of an aisle, look at how you might put it in an area that would be more convenient and make it less congested. Watch traffic patterns and notice where things naturally crowd up. Make arrangements to adjust the flow.
Also, if you have an item that most people are interested in, a big seller, or the reason a lot of your customers come in, place it in an easy-to-access spot. In times of no-COVID, you’d likely want them to walk through your business to get it but not now. Make it as easy as possible to get the item quickly.
If you decide signs would help direct traffic flow, make them humorous. In most businesses, there’s a lot going on, including a lot of visual stimulation. Regular signs will blend in and people won’t take notice of them. Don’t believe that? Go to Walmart. That place is peppered with signs that no one reads.
Maintain Great Customer Service
If you have the staff, consider creating points of less contact and offer to get things for people visiting your business. It may mean less impulse buying by your customers, but it will make them feel more secure.
Show Them the Wipes
Don’t make any customers wonder if you’re wiping everything down. Make sure you are. Let them see you doing it. While you needn’t follow them around and wipe every surface the minute they walk by, do let them see you wiping down display areas, doors, and other often-touched spots and products.
Don’t Put It Back Directly
When someone takes something from the shelf and changes their mind before purchasing it, don’t let them put it back. Instead, offer a very visible wipe down pile that will be sanitized before being returned to a public spot.
If your business uses kiosks or touch screens accessible to the public, consider placing a staff member there to operate them for the customer. Doing so will ensure fewer touches on your equipment.
COVID precautions are a fluid subject these days. This is a good start to make your customers feel safer and more secure in doing business with you now. But make sure you inform potential customers of all the extra things you’re doing so they can appreciate your efforts. They will do business with you and they’ll tell their friends and family as well.