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Social distancing is likely to be encouraged, and indeed appreciated, for some time. Your customers will expect to be able to keep a reasonable distance away from others, if they wish to do so.
One of the highest density spaces in service businesses is the reception area or waiting room. To minimise the time your clients and customers spend in a confined space together, try to decrease the opportunity for lingering and extended social conversations. While this may appear detrimental to your customer relationships, there are other ways to strengthen connections.
You could start by sending an email or SMS prior to their appointment, outlining the importance of minimising contact, and explain the changes are for their own safety. Also take the opportunity to outline any new processes they can expect to encounter during their appointment. For example, if you’re a nail technician, your reminder yexy message might also tell a customer where to check in for their appointment before taking a seat, and advise them of the new perspex shields you have erected to keep your staff safe.
This will help better prepare customers for their appointment, and ensure they feel confident that they’re in the safest hands possible.
Pre-appointment communications are also a good way to collect any important information, signatures or consent that the customer would otherwise have to supply on the day, thereby speeding up the check-in process. It will also smooth out manual operations for your business, improving overall efficiency and ensuring appointments stick to schedule.
Another post-COVID addition to the check-in process is in-app check-ins, which in some states are mandated by the government. Each state has their own app, such as the Service Victoria app, that allows customers and visitors to effortlessly check in to locations from their phone, providing your business and the government with the details to trace and notify contacts should transmission occur. In instances where people don’t have a mobile phone, it’s critical that you also have a manual check-in sheet.
It goes without saying that keeping your space clean and hygienic is imperative, not just for your clients but for your staff as well. A tidy reception desk also leaves a powerful first impression that says you prioritise the health and safety of those who interact with your business, and you take health and safety measures seriously.
Similarly, it’s important that those workers who occupy the reception area (and all other areas) demonstrate the appropriate protocols, instilling confidence in your clients and customers that they are in safe and responsible hands. This means wearing masks appropriately, social distancing, and sanitising hands regularly.
It’s just as important to put careful consideration into the hardware at your front desk. A cordless, elegant, and hands-free solution like the Zeller Terminal will keep your space clutter-free.
That said, you should balance these health and safety measures with touches that make your space feel calm and relaxing. Fresh flowers, beautiful scents, uplifting art, and soft music can all play a part in shaping a soothing space.
Some businesses even choose to place signage reminding customers of the fines that both parties face, should the customer decide not to check in.
As much as you urge your customers to come as close to their appointment time as possible in your email, chances are your waiting area will still be a high-traffic space. In order to make people feel safe, swap out any furniture that encourages close contact — such as couches — with spaced-out chairs that give people the options to sit as close or as far as they like from others.
If you have waiting room treats, such as hot beverages and biscuits, make sure you minimise contact between visitors by ensuring food is pre-packaged and drinks are made fresh. That way you can still add a special touch to your service without compromising health or safety.
The most effective way to speed up the pace at which your clients pay for their services and leave your counter is to adopt a seamless payment process. These days, almost every EFTPOS terminal accepts contactless payments — but there are other benefits that only the right machine will provide.
Digital receipts are another way to minimise contact between staff and customers, as well as reduce paper wastage. With Zeller Terminal, it’s as simple as tapping Email receipt or Text receipt at the end of the transaction.
Zeller Terminal can even include a tipping prompt during the transaction, enabling customers to show their appreciation without handling physical cash.
It’s important to brief your staff on efficiency, particularly in light of the pandemic; facilitating swift arrivals, check-ins and payments is critical to avoiding a customer bottleneck. Ensure you have the optimum number of staff rostered on – enough to prevent lines forming, but not too many to make customers feel overwhelmed and risk breaching capacity restrictions.
Unfortunately, COVD has meant a number of customer experiences have had to adapt to new health and safety regulations — but this doesn’t mean you can’t still make them feel special. Instead, it means it is imperative you make them feel safe.
Now that you know how to make your service business more COVID-safe, it’s time to prepare your business for life after lockdown. Sign up to our Business Blog to receive our fortnightly newsletter with more helpful articles to help your business succeed.