Following the unprecedented situation over the last few weeks, unsurprisingly, my most recent commissions have been to help customer facing clients prepare for the easing from lockdown and the transition back to the ‘new normal’.
My advice to clients is to plan very carefully for the next few months and as always, focus on the needs of your customers. Giving equal consideration to both the practical and emotional challenges that customers are facing – in the current circumstances, attention to satisfying customer needs will be key to bouncing back to ‘normal’- the needs of ‘head’ and ‘heart’ are equally important, and should be given equal attention in planning.
From a practical point of view, there is a whole raft of advice available from government sources which provides a great start point. Following the official advice will ensure the safety of customers, and staff affirming the integrity of the organisation. Clearly, close attention should be paid to the clear guidelines on the spacing between visitors and staff members, adhering to recommended cleaning and sanitising routines and following advice regarding the use of PPE by both staff members and customers. The planned delivery needs to be closely monitored, reviewed and adjusted appropriately as the advice develops.
However, the practical plan really is just the start point and equally as important is the emotional delivery. Key to future success is rebuilding customer confidence. One of the enduring outcomes of the COVID-19 period is likely to be a subliminal desire for control of our own environment and the resulting anxiety if we are faced with any uncertainty. Because of this, the old advertising adage is particularly pertinent – ‘it’s important to not only do the responsible thing, but to be seen to be doing it!’
So, alongside the practical plan you’ll need a robust communication plan, including clear and confident messages detailing the steps of the safety plan. This needs to reach customers before they visit (social media would be ideal) as it will inform their decision and the same messages need to be reinforced during the visit.
In this unfamiliar time, the combination of the practical and emotional plans will help to soothe both head and heart, help reduce anxiety and ease our customers slowly back to pre-lockdown behaviour.
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