One of the more difficult tasks your business will face during COVID-19 will be Handling Customers After Reopening During Coronavirus. Whatever rules, protocols, and guidelines you establish, you will need to find ways to enforce them. You’ll also need to come up with a plan for what you will do if one of your customers refuse.
Establishing The Ground Rules
Before you open, you will need to make decisions on what reopening your business will look like. Will you require masks or face coverings for employees? Will you require that your customers wear them as well?
If you’re unsure of what reopening steps you will take for your business you can refer to the post Reopening Your Business After The COVID-19 Shutdown for some general guidance.
First, will you allow customers into your establishment or worksite? If so, will you require them to wear masks or face coverings? Will you require gloves? What about hand sanitization? Will you limit the number of customers into your establishment for social distancing? If a customer shows up without a face covering will you offer them one?
Once you determine the exact ground rules you will have for your business, the first step will be to have them written down, and shared with all of your employees. Everyone working at your establishment should know all the rules you have established. Including the protocols, you set if a customer refuses to follow the rules you set.
While most customers will comply, not all will. The reasons why, will not matter as much as what your response will be should they not follow the rules for entering your establishment.
Inform Your Customers
Whether that is calling or emailing them before they arrive at your establishment, or informing them once they arrive through signage or having an employee inform them upon arrival.
No matter the method you choose to inform your customers, it must be done clearly and without causing confusion.
Employees Set The Tone
Once employees know the rules, and why they are established, they should be comfortable with approaching customers who are not abiding by the rules and asking them to comply. They should be able to convey the message in a neutral manner and tone and explain that the policy is in place for the benefit, health and safety of everyone. Also, make certain all employees are following at least the same rules to set an example for customers.
If it is over the customer not having a mask or face covering, offer them one.
If they refuse
What if they refuse to comply with your rules? You’ll have to decide if you will service them and ask them not to return, or ask them to leave, or refuse service completely.
Some businesses that have been able to establish remote video or tele-based services have asked their customers to use only those services, while others have opted to kick customers out of their establishments.
If you can have them leave without causing escalation that is fine, but you will also have to consider the situation if the customer refuses to leave and it escalates beyond calm discussions. In many cases it may be best to service the customer but remind them, next time, please bring and wear a mask, thank you.
In some cases, other customers have gotten involved and threatened other customers for not following the guidelines set by your establishment.