There’s no turning back, COVID-19 has left its mark and perhaps a future warning. Businesses take note; welcome to the new normal, where social distancing, temperature scans and PPE are all a part of your business model. In this new world, businesses must be prudent and transparent in their efforts to keep customers safe. The transition to working from home has opened up a variety of possibilities that as a society we might have been too comfortable to otherwise explore. These new possibilities have changed consumer behavior drastically in just a few months. Big retail players like Amazon and other e-commerce businesses have given way to convenience shopping and are no doubt looking into ways to expand their market share further.
As the provincial government in Ontario begins to ease the restraints on public interaction and a starts a phased approach to reopening businesses, here are some things to consider: the Greater Toronto Area public health units have accounted for 65.6 per cent of all COVID-19 cases in Ontario since the outset of the pandemic. It’s no surprise that cities closer to Toronto have been heavily impacted; the density of the population in these regions makes containment more difficult. Nonetheless the province will be announcing their decision on opening major restaurants and patios in the coming weeks and its time to discuss some safety measures that businesses are taking to keep everyone safe.
The Golden Rule of Building and Maintaining Trust
Building trust with customers is paramount in any successful business strategy, that hasn’t changed, the only thing that has changed is the opportunity to do so, that’s if you know where to look. Yes, physical shopping behaviors have been halted in the past few months, however people look for leaders in times of crisis, your business provides a platform to breed trust but don’t take this lightly, trust as they say, takes a lifetime to build but only minutes to destroy. Here are some local examples of Canadian businesses creatively adapting to the evolving needs of their customers.
Toronto business owners like Charles Khabouth, owner of INK Entertainment, who is responsible for the a lot of the nightlife and entertainment facilities in the downtown core, are beginning to look for creative ways to utilize their spaces. Space is the new hot topic, with social distancing being front of mind, many nightclubs that were formally used for close interaction and jam packed throughout the week, are now being re-imagined to accommodate the need for healthy distancing. The infamous Cabana might be transformed to a full dining services at some point this summer, with tables safely spaced out for customers to enjoy without close interaction.
Paramount Fine Foods owner Mohamad Fakih also sprung to action with the basics; increasing the cleanliness of common surfaces and ensuring staff are focused on personal hygiene strategies, restructuring the dine-in experience to ensure social distancing, and supporting frontline workers with discounts.
The number one concern on your customers’ mind is how your business has adapted to keep them and their families safe. Building trust in this time of skepticism and uncertainty might be your most lucrative strategy and here are a few ways you can do it:
Social distancing is not always easy to enforce, but we can take a huge lesson from grocery stores and other businesses that are deemed essential, as they have become the guinea pigs for this new system. Floor stickers set six feet apart are a good start to help customers know where to stand and what a safe distance looks like. It can also help you, as a business owner, keep track of the amount of people in your store to ensure you are following health regulations.
Body temperature monitors are a must; temperature monitors that can be set at the front, to scan all those who enter your store, will give you and your customers’ peace of mind, knowing that anyone who enters the facility is fever free. Along with the other measures from this article, you can keep your customers safe and build genuine trust in the midst of uncertainty.
You want to try to eliminate the amount of interaction between staff and customers, so automating this process can save time, money and lives. One particular local company here in Toronto, Thirty8 Degrees, has been helping businesses with this solution via their flagship product, Thermal Guard. This is a seamless body temperature scanning device. This automated and sleek device also has features like employee time stamping, mask detection technology, facial recognition, security door integrations and more. Allow, deny and keep track of access to staff and customers based on their body temperature and proper PPE gear.
Personal Protective Equipment
From the moment a customer reaches your storefront until they leave, all touch points should be reduced or eliminated. Providing PPE or sanitization is a great step businesses can take to show consumers they are being responsible. Aside from sanitizing main touch points, like carts, shelves and counters, providing protective equipment to customers provides a convenient customer experience and there is an extremely effective way to build trust.
From a communications standpoint, your business should be broadcasting its stringent health and safety routines so that the public feels confident in your ability to keep them safe and so they are aware of what to expect. Communication is key during times of uncertainty, with misinformation storming social media channels, ensuring that you have up to date, timely and easy to understand communications products will keep you in the running. Get creative and build a compelling call to action.
Navigating these unprecedented times is difficult, we remind all of our readers to continue to practice self care, soon the current state of affairs will be history, what we learn and how we adapt from this will pave the future of business.