Your customers won’t be safe with hand sanitizers, facemasks and floor decals. Your customers should be familiar with the safety protocols that will be used to combat the pandemic. They will cost your customers but maintaining them is not an assurance. You are not alone. Your competitors are doing exactly the same thing. This means that your standard is just average. It may be a little higher than everyone else’s, but it’s still average. Wait, there’s more… Nobody raves about average. Customers won’t praise a business that doesn’t meet their expectations. They also don’t bind themselves to them. You have changed an unpleasant experience into a positive one by putting in these safeguards. How can you make this a memorable positive experience?
Take care of your Associates. Your associates are anxious about their jobs despite hearing about hospitalizations and the struggling economy. Your actions will show them that your leadership team CARES. Communicate. Appreciate. Recognize. Empower. Serve.
Your associates will be more helpful if you ask them at the end of every interaction “What can we do for you?” You should also listen to what they have to say to make your associates as happy as possible working with you.
Reorient your Associates towards delivering the customer experience in the “not so-new-normal”.You were focused on the introduction of all the new protocols in the initial weeks of the pandemic. Your associates have been following safety guidelines for the past few months. This includes facemasks and temp checks. Remind them now of the principles of providing exceptional customer service. You must emphasize that customers cannot see your smiles so they should use other body language than handshakes and hug. Customers also need to communicate warmth and welcome with their words and voice. Remind them that empathy and active listening are important skills. Are they aware of the prohibited phrases that can distract from customer conversations? Make sure they know the difference between taking care of the customer which is a transaction and really caring for the customer, a relationship-building interaction.
Get feedback before you act.Your customer surveys may reveal 10-20% of customer complaints. Your customers and associates know 100% of what is troubling them. They tell your customers every day. Ask your team, “What are they hearing?” You can then take their suggestions into consideration and implement them to address the problem. Include your associates in the solution-finding process. You will not be able to earn their trust in your customer care.
You can become a storyteller. When customers do business, three things may happen. You gave them nothing to complain about so they are unable to say anything. Because they were so disappointed with your service, they can vent about it to other people. They can also rave about you. If you want customers to tell stories about your company, they must have a story to share. Your associates should be involved in defining key points of the customer experience. They should be empowered to create small, memorable “wows”, so that the story ends with “And they lived happily ever thereafter.”
It doesn’t matter how healthy you were before the pandemic. They care only about your current performance. The world is changing every day. It is important that you do the same.