Improving Customer Confidence During COVID-19

Kevin GeickDisease Decontamination

Customers shopping after the pandemic

Will my business lose customers if I require them to wear masks?

How can I let the public know it’s safe to visit our hotel, restaurant, or store?  

If these questions keep you up at night, you’re in good company—and you’re about to get some insights that will help you rest easy.

In the months after COVID-19 became a pandemic, we learned a lot about the virus and how it spreads.

But what we’ve also learned, in spite of some sensational media stories, is that the public is more receptive to preventative measures such as masks and social distancing than some might believe.

How your business responds to coronavirus affects not only your community’s health but how customers regard you as a business worthy of their patronage.

These tips enhance your safety policies while building brand reputation and social goodwill.

1. Embrace Recommended Safety Guidelines

The best way to demonstrate that you take the public’s health, and that of your staff seriously is to set forth mask requirements for workers and visiting customers, even if your establishment isn’t required to do so.

According to recent research, your proactive stance on coronavirus safety is good for business. Not only will you help reduce the likelihood of widespread shutdown, recent research indicates you’ll gain customer confidence in your brand.

Over 80% of US adults are either more likely or equally likely to do business if the business enforces stronger masking policies.

— Small Business Trends, August 2020

Would you feel more comfortable dining in an establishment where the servers and cooks wear masks?

Are you more comfortable sending your kids to school knowing the faculty is enforcing social distancing and staggered schedules?

Do you wonder whether the people handling your online orders are protected against contracting or spreading coronavirus?

If you’re thinking about these things, so are your customers.

2. Advocate for Government Mask Mandates

For a variety of personal and socially-influenced reasons, some customers won’t wear masks unless there’s an official directive from local or state health departments to do so.

Wear a mask signIn the absence of mandates, business owners fear that these attitudes will leave them vulnerable to competition, place employees into an uncomfortable policing role, and increase the risk of infection and future shutdowns.

In reality, there is a relatively small number of customers who will say, “Fine. I’ll take my business elsewhere” but those who do—or who are aggressive while voicing their disapproval—disrupt the workplace, traumatize staff, and interfere with your other customers’ experience.

Enlist the help of your local business associations in encouraging local and state officials to place and enforce mandates.

As a socially-responsible business, you deserve a level playing field and every advantage to helping protect the health of your community and vitality of the local economy.

It’s easier to point to a sign that says “By order of the governor/health department/mayor…” than to explain your company’s independent position.

3. Empower and Support Your Staff

Your business relies on your employees’ emotional and physical well-being. Once you’ve ensured they have a disease-free work environment, arm them with the information they need to feel comfortable and confident communicating your policies to the public.

Be sure you and your staff understand the ADA and employment laws associated with coronavirus, as well as any local and state mandates.

Post your policies and enforcement guidelines in staff break rooms, and make sure each associate understands how and when to appropriately enforce them—and that you have their back at all times.

Your customers care about how you treat your employees. According to Marketing Dive, “A growing body of research signals that consumers are putting more value on companies that treat their workers well during the public health crisis.”.

Treat your employees as good as—or better than—your best customers. Their willingness to be on board with your safety policies, and their enthusiasm for their jobs, will make your customers feel good about choosing you over your competitors.

4. Hire a Professional Deep Cleaning Service

Have you read news articles about businesses being shut down for “deep cleaning” following an outbreak, and wondered what, exactly, that means?

Do you imagine staff members scrubbing tables, walls, doors, counters, point-of-sale equipment, and floors all night long, or do crews in hazmat “bunny suits” and full personal protection equipment (PPE) come to mind?

Who would you ask to clean up if contract tracing pointed to your establishment as the source?

Here’s what you’d need to consider before making that decision:

  • The scope of the project
  • Availability and cost of PPE and sanitation equipment
  • Ability to train staff to safely sanitize the facility
  • The willingness of staff to participate, and the ethics associated with asking them to do so
  • Risk of infected staff re-contaminating premises

In more cases than not, it is in you, your employees, and your customers best interest to hire a professional company.

Professional cleaner with sprayPrior to the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses requiring biohazard cleanup for contagious disease control and trauma restoration, also known as “crime scene cleaning”, required the utmost discretion.

After all, who wants their customers to see hazmat teams at their restaurant, hotel, processing plant, store, or home?

But now, customers are asking reputable biohazard cleaning companies such as Bio Recovery for branded informational materials they can display or hand out to reassure customers that deep-cleaning standards meet or exceed local, state, and national recommendations.

Biohazard companies whose logos include chalk outlines, skulls, or other sensationalized imagery likely don’t get such requests, and don’t offer their clients the same opportunity for improved or recovered customer confidence.

In many cases, they lack the experience and professionalism to complete their tasks quickly and thoroughly while maintaining a positive, professional, media-ready presence on the job site.

5. Be Transparent and Proactive in Communicating Your Efforts

Engage with your audience to demonstrate your dedication to their health and that of your employees.

By publicizing your coronavirus safety measures you will earn brand trust, which is an essential factor in building customer loyalty in the age of COVID.

  • Use social media and on-premises signage to share your policies, accommodation solutions, and sanitation strategy.
  • Share images of professional deep-cleaning crews at work, installed safety barriers, and customers and staff wearing their masks.
  • Be compassionate and positive in your wording.
  • Invite customers to provide feedback or express their concerns directly or on your social media pages, and respond in a timely, helpful, and personable fashion.
  • Don’t neglect third-party review sites like Yelp, Google My Business, Angie’s List, and others.

Stress that you understand that some customers might be uncomfortable wearing masks, but that you’ve chosen your policies out of concern for your business’ family of workers and patrons—and for the sake of the greater community.

Remain consistent with all your customers. If you need to change your tactics, be clear when you announce them so your customers know what to expect the next time they visit your business.

6. Pursue Funding for PPE, Biohazard Cleanup, and Protective Upgrades

Safety upgrades, including plexiglass barriers, floor decals, and professionally-printed signage can be expensive to purchase and install. Appropriate sanitation equipment and supplies are, too, and personal protective equipment is difficult to source.

FundingYour organization’s industry regulations may require some or all of your employees to complete training for safe and thorough coronavirus cleanup, and most municipalities require special handling and disposal of biohazard waste that costs more than regular garbage services.

Fortunately, there are resources and solutions available to offset the costs of coronavirus prevention and cleanup.

-Workplace Safety Grants

The U.S. Small Business Administration provides a list of resources for coronavirus-related funding options as an excellent point to start your research.

You can also reach out to your local and state health departments to help you identify available workplace safety grants and low-interest loans specific to your location.

-Business Insurance

Do you need to shut down your establishment due to government mandates or for extensive cleaning? Have your premises been contaminated by COVID-19?

Check your business insurance policy for coverage. You may be surprised to learn that you may be entitled to compensation for shut-downs and the cost of professional decontamination and sanitation.

Reduce Community Spread & Improve Community Relations

The business landscape will remain fluid for the foreseeable future.

So will recommendations from safety officials and marketing professionals, but some principles never change: Engage with your employees and customers to remain aware of their needs, and adapt your safety and public image strategies to let them know you have their best interests at heart.

Nobody will come out of this pandemic unscathed, but you’ll put yourself in a better position to thrive in this “New Normal”.