Preparing for the Phased Reopening of Businesses
With the roadmap to re-opening the Irish economy coming into effect, businesses across the country must be prepared for when the restrictions are lifted for their industry.
While the curve has been flattened and the number of daily coronavirus cases and fatalities have been slowly declining, we will likely have this virus in our lives until a vaccine is widely available in Ireland. It’s been over 2 months since many businesses have shut and the majority won’t be reopening to the way the world was in early March 2020.
This blog focuses on some of the factors that need to be considered when reopening your business to the public to ensure a relatively smooth transition into the world with COVID-19 still spreading.
The 5 phase roadmap for reopening society and businesses in Ireland have provided the Irish people with a rough idea of when businesses can reopen, and people can return to work.
Even with the majority of non-essential businesses not reopening until phase 3 in late June, now is the time to think about the steps you can take to create an environment that can adapt to the public health standards. Hospitality and entertainment-based businesses will be last to open around August/September, while offices will continue working from home where possible past stage 5 of the roadmap.
It’s important to note that progress from phases to phase is not guaranteed, meaning increases in cases could result in delays in restrictions being lifted, still leaving business owners with some level of uncertainty.
Customers & Employee Safety
The safety of those that enter the premises is paramount. With social distancing likely being the norm for the rest of 2020 and possibly even into 2021, it’s incredibly important for businesses to have a social distancing policy in place for the coming months.
This could be a restriction on the number of people allowed onto the premises at once, customer flow control, signage or plexiglass installed to protect both employees and customers.
It’s important that even with the safety measures in place it’s still a comfortable environment to shop in. Retailers are constantly doing tests to see what works and what doesn’t. Policies should be developed at brand-level and tweaked at the store-level, depending on the size and location of the store.
Brand Customer Engagement
Prior to reopening, communicating with customers is key. Informing customers of the upcoming changes to operations and policies will give them an idea of what to expect when they enter your outlet or use your services. As discussed in a previous post, customer engagement during the coronavirus pandemic needs to be empathetic and purposeful.
Getting social media posts and email communications ready now for the eventual reopening of your business will prepare you for a smoother transition when the dates to reopen finally arrive. Being proactive with communications now will remove uncertainty from your customers minds. Ensure your customers understand that all measures that can be taken to stop the spread of the virus will be taken.
Once businesses are back open, communications should be ramped up considerably.
Most grocery outlets have adopted dedicated shopping hours for elderly or vulnerable customers since the beginning of the lockdown. Dedicated hours are also being implemented in public parks, to provide the vulnerable with an opportunity to take a break from cocooning without compromising their health.
While dedicated shopping hours may not be necessary for all retailers, if your shoppers stretch over multiple generations then it should be considered.
Prepare to Adapt
As it has been with the entire lockdown so far, there is always a high level on uncertainty around every decision made by the government and public health experts. This means that what works today might not work tomorrow. Ensuring your business can adapt to the changing environment could result in the long-term success of the reopening.
Gathering feedback from customers through satisfaction surveys is the most appropriate way to gauge customer satisfaction. Using the insights gathered regarding their experience can be used to tweak the CX to ensure a more comfortable shopping experience in the future.
Are you preparing to reopen your business soon and wish to find out more regarding customer engagement and CX? If so, make sure to contact us today on +353 1 8041298, or click on the link below to be brought to our contact form.
We also have a large range of COVID-19 safety signage available to order now, including floor graphics, posters, pull-ups and banners. Take a look at our brochure.