Updated: May 15
Most of us have experience in an underwhelming customer area–whether it's a waiting room, shopping area, or anywhere in-between. If the chill of the room didn't affect us–the unenthusiastic greeting upon entering definitely did.
The ushering in of Covid-19 hasn't helped matters, either. Stay home orders, quarantines, and general caution to not contract the novel coronavirus has affected nearly every business to some degree. Social distancing, masked faces, and sanitized hands create a whole new level of separation from the world of which we were just recently apart. That's why making your customer area as welcoming and as warm as you can is more important than ever.
In this article we'll highlight some things you can do to ensure your waiting area feels as warm and inviting as possible.
1. Keep Covid-Clean
More than ever you need to convey that your establishment is safe for your customers. Nobody wants to enter a store where no caution appears to have been heeded. The best place to start would be to follow the guidelines set forth by the FDA and CDC. Some helpful tips from their sites can be procured easily (using household bleach, making your own protective face mask, etc.)
Print out and prominently place a sign letting customers know the lengths your staff is going to in order to keep things sanitary for them.
2. Brand Consistency
If your business has a physical presence then you'll want to creatively maintain your brand's aesthetics while reopening in spite of the COVID-19 rules and regulations. Removing furniture and spacing walkways to maintain a 6-foot clearance for customers can easily leave your customer area looking sterile and uninviting. Many elements can make up your brand, from the way you interact with your customers, to the overall look, feel, sound, and even smell of your storefront or customer area.
Remain consistent with how you communicate your brand as you reopen after quarantine.
If you haven't established your brand well in times past, then now is the best time to start! Begin by considering how you want your business to be perceived by customers and launch from there. Here are a few more considerations when establishing your brand:
• How will you and your staff dress?
• How will they communicate/talk to each other? To customers?
• What overall tone are you communicating to the public?
• What values are most important to your business and how can they be expressed throughout your brand?
• Which dominant font(s) will you choose to align with your message tone on a textual level?
• How can you create an eye-catching logo that customers recognize as 'you'?
To further set your brand apart, there are many things your business can do, such as incorporate a genre of music playing in the background, a distinct pleasant fragrance (such as burning candles), or wall decorations.
3. Preserve Presentation
Be sure to keep presentation as tightly to your message as possible. Ultimately, this means to make sure your customer area is clean, tidy and organized, engaging, user-friendly, and helpful.
• If there is gray area on how to use a product, be there to help or include a poster nearby.
• Make sure the cash register area is free of unnecessary clutter, trash, and personal items such as beverages and phones.
• Check to make sure all furniture is tightly screwed, safe, and free of wobbling.
• Keep the temperature of the room comfortable–you want them to stay for as long as they'd like.
• Clean floors, windows, and mirrors before customers arrive.
• Ensure all employees are following the company's code of conduct and dress code.
4. Give Something To Everyone
Whether it's a donut, bookmark, custom sticker, beverage, or coupon that's good towards their next visit, give them something before they leave. Everyone likes gifts, so think of something in line with your brand that you can give that brings value to them and makes them think of you.
5. Create Dialogue
Some folks entering your establishment could be venturing out for the first time in months! What an honor that yours is one of the first they'll encounter since being quarantined. Such an honor deserves a worthy response, right?
In a typical retail or restaurant environment you'll start things off warm and welcoming by saying something along the lines of, "Well hey! Nice to see you! Thanks for stopping in today," and then something to help open dialogue a bit–"How does it feel to be getting closer to back to normal?" These kinds of conversations create warmth, let them know you're not just a salesperson but a person, will lead you and your team into more natural selling conversations, and create repeat customer relationships.
In a more professional atmosphere such as a waiting area, you may decide to greet patients with a "Hello–it's so nice to see you again" or "Hey there [name], how've you been the past couple of months?" before beginning routine medical questions. These types of greetings can generally mean all the difference in the world to patients who are used to mere stone-faced "greeters".
Whether this is a long-time returning customer or a first time discoverer of your business, dialogue with them in a way they'll remember for a while.
6. Continue the Conversation
When your customer leaves satisfied, helped, and more engaged with your staff and brand, that is the best time to continue the momentum. By sending out a simple thank you message via text or email and asking them to share their experience with their friends, you can capitalize on all of the steps before this and minimize advertising costs in the future.
Here's how to do it:
• Ask if they would mind if you send them special offers or priority updates on items you get in stock
• Collect their email or phone number
• Send them a simple shoutout after they leave thanking them for the conversation, time spent with you, and of course the purchase. Then, ask if they would post a quick shoutout on their favorite social media platform and leave you a review on Google so that you can keep pushing your message to others. Since you have a good message–they will likely be very receptive and eager to help out.
Though there will be strict guidelines as we move forward with rolling out business openings, it doesn't mean our demeanor or brand has to also become sterile. Make the most out of the quarantine by making your businesses emergence wrought with new standards and excellences.