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The uncertainty of the COVID battlefield and how we can win

Michelle Wolter profile picture

By: Michelle Wolter

September 2, 2020

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Here's a simple test to see how well you know your work environment. Imagine walking into any space at your business location (corporate or site location) and close your eyes. Now, start compiling in your mind all the places you think will need to be attended and maintained to keep your area free from spreading the transmission of COVID-19.

Corporate location floorplan
Site level areas of consideration.
Big Box Retail Store floorplan
Corporate areas of consideration.

Now, open your eyes. Were you surprised at how many areas of attention there are that you did not see before? This is the challenge you and many other establishments face as we transition towards the great re-start of the American economy.

Loyal customers have become accustomed to the use of remote-based, non-contact technology but the re-opening will present a new set of challenges as people begin to set foot inside any establishment again. The great re-opening also represents a great re-thinking of your steps to demonstrate and implement necessary safety protocols.

What businesses don't know is how willing customers are to sacrifice personal safety in exchange for returning to normal activities. You will want to make the most out of your first - and perhaps only - opportunity to reassure customers and show the safety measures you have in place.

I've outlined three key areas of focus: communication, capacity and contactless solutions/fixtures.

Spread a powerful message while you contain the disease

Start planning for an optimal customer experience by asking how you will communicate with new and returning customers before you even have a chance to speak. Even though opinions vary, masks are a visible sign of attempting to contain the spread of COVID-19. If having customers wear a mask is part your safety plan, strategically placed signage will inform customers about your requirements for wearing or supplying them.

As customers see your staff modeling safety procedures and taking the time to wipe down and quickly clean high-visibility, high-touch areas it also sends out a powerful visual message about your concern for them as well. Make provisions in scheduling to allow the extra time employees need to perform extra cleaning, temperature checks and changing into new protective equipment demonstrate your concern for their health.

When you think about capacity,
remember Yogi

Berra, not The Bear. The world-famous former catcher was well-known for many confounding philosophical pronouncements. Among them was, "Nobody goes there anymore, it's too crowded." Perhaps Yogi was just ahead of his time in predicting the restrictions on occupancy. A successful opening will start by marrying reduced capacity with directional cues for maintaining social distancing to leave customers feeling more comfortable about returning to gathering areas.

Yogi Berra picture from 1953
Yogi Berra - 1953
Image Source

Lend a hand by reducing the need to touch

Digital Display with physical distancing message next to elevator
Keep your employees, guests, and customers updated with important and up-to-the minute messaging.

We know that the most effective tool in fighting COVID-19 is frequent and thorough handwashing. Utilizing touch-free options for both accessing - think door handles and pulls - and facilities inside (touchless faucets, dispensers, toilets) will reduce contact areas while increasing customer experience.

Self-serve kiosks are now a common-place feature for everything from grocery shopping to airline travel. Now, what began as a stand-alone convenience has become a touchpoint for the potential spread of COVID-19. Setting a customer's mind at ease could come down to simply setting up a safety barrier, a hand sanitizing station nearby or displaying a schedule of how often kiosks will be turned off to spread people out or to perform sanitizing protocols.

Digital signage keeps customers and employees
updated, instantaneously

Add up the number of changes in the news surrounding COVID-19 and the cost to recreate and redistribute messages to your customers. Add in multiple locations and you can quickly see the benefit of using a digital signage strategy to convey important message both inside and outside your location. You'll be in complete control relaying important messages on masks, occupancy, sanitizing schedules, procedures and more. Improved communications with your customers starts with improved communication tools.

On the way to getting out of our homes but not quite out of the woods

Now that you are seeing this familiar space with a new set of eyes you should know that you don't have to walk through the experience blind. Bailiwick can deliver individualized solutions to your business backed by a dedicated, relentless and nimble staff ready to help you lead by example. Every business has some variance in layout and usage and the suggestions made here are designed to start a conversation so that the health of your company and the health of your customers goes hand in hand.

Michelle Wolter profile picture Michelle Wolter is a senior leader, owner, and board member of Bailiwick. Michelle has been guiding our clients through the changing and complex world of IT and business leadership for 20+ years. Outside of Bailiwick she is an adjunct professor at the University of St. Thomas teaching an MBA course on storytelling in business. She is an avid traveler who is getting her wanderlust through virtual travel these days.

Curiosity and creative problem-solving.

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