May 26, 2020

Well before COVID19 struck TRUST was the key to building the connection between yourself and the team.  Many people had lost trust in their leaders, financial institutions and Governments.  Organisations had realised that they needed to lead with transparency, authenticity to build and regain the trust of their customers but firstly trust had to begin with the team.  

 Trust through:

  • Delegation
  • Allowing others to have a voice
  • Sharing the highs and lows
  • Input from the frontline when it came to strategies
  • Setting goals
  • Showing vulnerability
  • Asking for help
  • Performance management
  • Handling unprecedented interruptions

The last point is one that many of you may never have experienced before now and even if your business was affected by 911, GFC or natural disasters, the COVID19 Pandemic has disrupted the world.

Being caught unaware as so many leaders were, you had to think on your feet so quickly there was little time in some cases to make a plan in advance.  Those early days some of you may have had a lot of sleepless nights (I know I did), you had to make decisions without all the facts in a state of “not knowing” for how long and the countless “What if?” questions. 

Over the past weeks and months after the initial shock you have managed your organisation to your best ability, of course hindsight is a wonderful thing, something that we would all like to have, what lays ahead of us all now is the opportunity to relaunch /reopen with renewed vigour, setting the ground rules from zero, reviewing the operations, procedures, processes and systems. 

This is an opportunity for you to recognise the achievements your organisation has made by pivoting perhaps into online, manufacturing a completely different product, selling to an industry you had never approached before and the unbelievable opportunity to really connect with your team to lead them through this time which for some of them has been one of despair.  It is your time to lead with trust as your team return to the workplace as isolation restrictions begin to lift.

Here are some tips and suggestions on how to prepare your team as each and every one of them needs to believe in the “new” way of doing business with each other on the team and the customer.

We have seen from the first relaxation of the isolation rules that people are “bursting” out of their homes.  Crowd control and the safety of your customers and your team needs to be planned out in advance, no use waiting to see “what happens”.

Depending on your industry some of these will apply and others may not.

How to manage the demand upon opening:

Consider a soft opening inviting a select group of customers or members.  This will enable both the customer and team members the opportunity to get used to the changes.  It also gives you the opportunity to hear feedback from your team and even your customers on what is working and what needs to be tweaked before opening your doors to the general public.

Entry / Exit and Line Control

To ensure the flow of people entering and exiting your business review the customer journey in your business. Does the placement of shelving, stands, counter need to be re-configured?

Health and Safety

Hand sanitisers placed in self dispensing dispensers located at the entry and exit points as well as multiple locations in clear sight throughout your premises.

The use of disposable sanitising cleaning cloths.  Not one cloth for everything.

Continual cleaning being undertaken.  Team members on the floor wiping down door handles, shelving, handrails, counter tops, and eftpos machines.

Dining areas:  Wiping down of tables, chairs, counter tops, laminated menus.  Cutlery individual sealed packaging or disposable cutlery.  Individual sealed condiments including salt and pepper. 

Signage and Communication

Clearly written and placed signage instructing customers on what to do and where to go.

All team members need to know the correct protocols, what to say and how to say it to ensure that every customer is provided the same consistent service that has them returning and recommending your business for all the right reasons.

Staggered work hours

Reviewing your opening hours and the times your team arrive and leave.  Staggering the arrival and departure times of your team may assist in the reduction of how many team members you have in the office at the one time. This is not reducing their working hours it is ensuring that correct distancing in the office is maintained.

Show your customers what to expect

Make a quick 2 minute video of your premises, showing the customer what they will experience when they come to your premises.  A behind the scenes look at your team preparing for the day, cleaning, setting out the furniture, products, placing signage, wiping over the furniture in the waiting room.  Put this video on your website and on all your social media pages.  Your customers won’t have to second guess if or what you are doing to care about them.

Listen to your team, show them you trust them and that their health and safety is your main concern.

Before they return to work ensure everyone is healthy and that no one comes to work sick. We are coming into winter and is often the case in the past people go to work when they are sick happily spreading their germs to everyone. This is no longer acceptable as the leader you must ensure everyone is healthy, that may even mean considering temperature checks before starting each day. 

All staff must feel that they can trust you by coming to you to advise if they have been in contact directly or indirectly with a person with COVID19 and that your response is handled with professionalism and caring.

Flexibility in the workplace needs to be discussed with the team as during winter the rate of absenteeism is higher due to illness.

Connecting with your team through team meetings and individual conversations checking in with them, advising of new procedures and protocols will assist everyone in your organisation.  Asking how they and their family are coping at home will make a big difference to their mental health.  You may need to help them in contacting Government agencies or other organisations to assist them personally.  Knowing you care about them as a person not just an employee.

It maybe the new way so as a leader ensure that it is the right way.

Your team need to be on board as they are the frontline dealing with your customers, whether it is over the phone, online or face to face, they need to be confident, so your customers are confident in dealing with your organisation.

If you haven’t as yet tuned into my weekly podcast CUSTOMER RETENTION REVOLUTION, subscribe now to listen on Apple podcasts, Google podcasts Spotify , Player.FM podcasts, Iheart radio or my website. Episodes 105 and 106 for further tips and strategies.

If you need help in planning and preparing your team for reopening please contact me to discuss my new training programs developed especially for the Customer Journey Experience and leading a team in “new workplace”.