As pubs, restaurants, and other hospitality and leisure environments prepare to enter the new normal, how will customers react?
With lockdown restrictions easing, it’s vital to remember that the virus is still here and has not gone away. There’s no cure and no vaccine so it remains a clear and present danger to everyone’s health and a deadly threat for many.
Yet life must go on. Relaxation of the two-metre distancing rule, which had earned criticism from many in the industry, is seen as crucial to reviving the leisure sector. But as with shops, it’s important to reassure staff and customers that you take COVID security seriously as well as creating a welcoming environment.
High visibility and consistent use of face masks, sanitizer and gloves—as well as social distancing and enhanced cleaning regimes—provide an instant signal that COVID security is prioritised in your business. As as well as protecting staff and customers, it’s tangible evidence that your company is supporting your community by limiting transmission opportunities.
Lockdown and post-lockdown debates have shown different people have different attitudes to risk. Some customers and visitors may be irritated by the different customs and practises we all now need to adopt but many more will offer a silent thank-you for your obvious care and empathy.
Stress and anxiety have rocketed as a result of the pandemic with the Institute of Fiscal Studies reporting an average 8.1% decrease in mental health across the UK population with significant additional impact on women and young adults. Many people, not just the most vulnerable through age or pre-existing medical condition, will find difficulty adjusting to the new normal world where there’s greater emphasis on self-imposed risk assessment and the actions and behaviours of others are less predictable and less certain.
In public-facing areas, that could cause flashpoints and arguments if expectations aren’t made clear and staff aren’t sufficiently well-briefed and supported. The new ‘rules’ will take time to bed-in and how well they are signaled and implemented will be a major contributor to creating an environment where customers are not only safe but feel comfortable, at ease, and ready to spend and keep coming back.
Only time and money at the till will tell if enough customers have shed their worries and fears. Who would have thought that bottles of sanitizer and face masks could become such powerful icons of customer care.
For more details of the Panodyne range of COVID-secure products from Multibrands, click here.