Dealing With Customers During Covid-19

I had not intended to write any Covid-19 specific posts here, but an incident my teenage son had at a local convenience store changed my mind.

He was at right off of the freeway in my lovely town of Glenwood Springs, Colorado. My son went into pay at a chain gas station and convenience store and inadvertently left his face mask in his car. Upon entry to the store the store clerk yells “Get the hell out of here without a mask”. He sheepishly went to his car, genuinely feeling bad for forgetting the mask, but also upset at the clerk screaming at him, causing the other customers to stare him down, as well.

Here’s where you can call me “Karen”. Rather than go down and chat with him, which my son would have not approved of, I called the store manager, and simply asked her to brief her front line on compassionately dealing with that situation, a situation which is repeating itself all over the country. It was a positive chat, ending with her assurance she would discuss the issue with all of her staff, and not just the clerk in question. I DO NOT want the guy in any trouble. I am not one of those people. I deal with “Karen” every day at the adventure park I work for. I understand we are all at a very high stress level right now, but that kindness is more important than ever. 

Is your business still serving customers? If this is the case, my hat is off to you and your staff. It is a very stressful time. How is it going with your staff? It is certainly a time for you all to be on edge. But it is not the time to lose focus on humanity. You have an opportunity to show your customers you are confidently dealing with the situation, and part of that is KINDLY telling them to wear a mask before they enter your business. It is not something that has to have a negative connotation at all. You merely explain to them that you are protecting them, your staff, and virtually everyone else by wearing one. Explain to them why social distancing rules in your business are for them, as well as everyone else. If you do it with confidence and love most will receive it well. Those who do not get it do not get to come in. Explain to your front line that they can present it as a customer benefit, rather than making it sound like another “rule”. As I have written here before, and will again, there is a way to say everything.

For those of you who are closed, my heart truly goes out to you. What can you do between filling out government paperwork and being on hold with the IRS? You can find unique ways to stay in touch with your customers, clients, and guests. Hopefully you make some effort to keep track of them, and if not, will change that. Reach out in some way to remind them you are thinking of them. Messages of support through social and traditional media go a long way. You don’t have to be selling them anything. You can merely stay on the top of their mind by communicating with them in some way during your closure.

The road ahead is an uncharted one, but if you are to stay in business, communicating honestly, kindly, and effectively with your customers whether at your business or not, will make all the difference.

What Do You Want To Tell Your Customers Right Now?

Are you sitting and thinking of all the things you want to say to your clients when things return to “Normal”? If you had not already told them how important they are, not just to you, but the world, how are you going to do that when they come back? For those businesses financially solvent enough to even make t through this, how are you going to do things differently if and when those customers, guests, and clients are ready to return to society.

Go back and read previous posts and remember the reasons people spend money.  Say it with me. “To feel good about themselves”.  How do you think they feel right now, stuck in their homes with their lives and livelihoods in jeopardy?  When they do return, their need for validation, love, and acceptance will be stronger than ever, and you can be ready to fulfill that need by taking inventory of how you treat your customers. You may be a rally nice person, who, for the most part, has no trouble interacting positively with customers. This not about that. This is about taking a step back and asking yourself what you want when you return to daily life. That’s exactly what your customers want.

Now, I realize one could argue not everyone wants the same things. They obviously don’t. But when it comes to the desire to fulfill emotional needs, we all do need basically the same things. How we achieve them is what separates us.  Now is the time to map out a plan to your front line, illustrating the principals learned here at Dealing With Humans, to give them what they need when they return.

If you are fortunate enough to have mailing lists or other access to your customers, communicating with them now, if you can, is a really good idea. It may be a newsletter. or an advertisement. Or a column in your local paper.  Depending on your customer relationships and the nature of your business, if you can call them individually and check up on them with no other motive, that will mean a lot. Stay in touch with them so they know you care even when they can’t give you their money.

The need for security and comfort will be greater than ever for your clients. Do they already know you are there for them? If so, outstanding. If not, decide what you can do to change that TODAY. Just make it sincere. Do not overthink what you want to say. Usually a first draft tends to be from the heart, so keep that in mind when overthinking it. Then decide the best way to disseminate that information and get it out.

As stated in the last post, have always believed there would bean eventual return to brick and mortar, face to face business, and I think this crisis may accelerate that time line. It is important your front line is ready for that, because it you are ready when they return to have their needs, both conscious and unconscious, met, they will win and so will you.

Customer service can change the world.