As economies start to reopen (like ours here in Montana), everyone’s trying to figure things out. What’s going to be different? What’s going to be the same? What should we do & say? One of the most important aspects of your reopening is the communication to your employees and to the public – your customers.
Employees need a roadmap
Training is essential. Make sure they know specifically what new tasks are expected of them, when, how often, & why. Don’t assume they know exactly what to do. Document new processes. Advise about old processes that are gone. Observe how these processes are executed. Let the best ones train & observe the rest so you can deal with more important things.
Yes, management 101.
Explain the impact of these things on your customers. Their actions, or inaction, could make a client for life, or repel someone forever.
They need to understand what’s being done to keep them safe. Employees need certainty. Their family needs to know their health & income aren’t being placed at risk.
I mentioned employees first because if they aren’t prepared, your customers will notice. They’ll watch how your business responds. Most people know someone somewhere who has gotten sick. Some are scared (or at least concerned), and some aren’t.
The busier your business was, the easier it’ll be to avoid. You may need to meet your customers where they are – just like always.
Make sure your customers know exactly what you’ve done to make your business safer for them. They need to know exactly what you’re doing each day. If they see things indicating that you don’t care about your people, why wouldn’t they assume you feel the same about them?
Make sure they understand what the new rules are, whatever that means for your business.
The logistics of all this are not easy. It’s probably work you haven’t been doing, at least not at the scale reopening requires.
Your customers need certainty. They decide whether when (or if) they return to your business. Your actions, people, & communication will impact their choice.
I ordered carryout pizza from a place that brags on their contactless carryout. I arrive to find employees without masks or gloves. The same pen & clipboard is used for every other pick up I watch while waiting in the car for my order. I get the same clipboard & pen to sign with, despite the fact that I paid online. Keep in mind that the employee delivering the pizza and handing over the clipboard/pen is touching the same items that every customer touches. When I touch the pen, I touch everyone else who touched the pen.
A week later, I order carry out from a local pizza place. They’re sharing pens/clipboards & requiring signatures for an online payment. There’s no PPE.
A week later (you’ll notice a pattern here), I order carryout from a different national pizza chain bragging about contactless carryout. Same deal. No PPE and a shared pen / clipboard.
A few weeks later, I used the drive through at the third place. After speaking with their national office a week earlier, their contactless carryout truly is.
I had allergy testing scheduled for a while and surprisingly, it didn’t get cancelled. Everyone masked up – even the receptionist. When I arrived, they had a clean pen jar & a used pen jar. A sign instructed you to use a clean pen and place it in the used pen jar when done.
At grocery stores, there are signs identifying sanitized carts. The clerk wiped the pinpad after the person in front of me was done – a process that didn’t happen two weeks earlier.
I placed an online pickup order at a brewery. When it was ready, I received a text message. When I arrived, it was ready to carry to the car.
I haven’t heard from the other two “we’re contactless but not really” pizza places.
What processes had to be changed? Don’t force your team or your customers to figure it out during their first encounter with your reopened business. It’ll frustrate them & make you look unprepared.
If signs will help, make signs. If a sequence of signs will help, or a checklist will help, use them. Warn your customers in advance of any orders and repeat the advisory when they place an order. Let them know what to expect. If your new process needs explanation (regardless of reason), explain it.