Business owner wearing a mask with an open store sign
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You have worked hard to stay in business and prepare to reopen during this pandemic. Now, you are challenged with the fact that many customers are nervous about returning to their favorite restaurants and retail stores.

A McKinsey, Survey: US Consumer sentiment during the coronavirus published on Aug. 7, 2020 shows that “there is a renewed sentiment for health, safety and care” of the customer, and nearly “73% of customers have not fully reengaged with out-of-home activities” due to concern of contracting the virus.

So how can you create a clean and safe environment where your customers will feel comfortable returning?

Be Transparent
Share your safety and cleaning strategies with your customers. Share this information on your webpage, front door, restroom, chamber website, Facebook Live video and anywhere else. Consider recording a short video, which shows your cleaning protocol on high touch areas. Expressing your sincerity about your customers’ safety and highlighting your staff training will better inform your customers. 

Set an Example
Wear your masks properly - not on your ear, or in your hand, or around your neck, or below your nose. Having a policy of all staff and all customers wearing masks helps reduce stress for customers who are concerned.

Go Touchless
Provide touchless services when you can. Look around for all the things and places customers touch, and then remove and replace those items, or clean high-touch areas frequently. For example:

  • Provide a website or a chalkboard menu instead of a paper menu that multiple people would touch.
  • Create one-way traffic patterns so that customers can keep a safe distance away from other shoppers.
  • Provide hand sanitizer both inside and outside your doors.
  • Hold front doors open for your customers or prop them open on a nice day.
  • Explore attachments to your doors so customers can open the door by foot or elbow. Many of these devices can easily and affordability be installed on bathroom doors.

Support Social Distancing
Provide floor signage that shows customers appropriate distances and, where possible, install clear barriers that help distance your staff and the customer, especially at checkout locations.

Offer Safer Ways to Pay
Explore the latest apps that allow customers to pay using their smartphones, or provide sanitized pens appropriately labeled along with a location for the used item.

As you work to provide a safe and enjoyable customer experience, continue to seek their feedback and adjust as needed. See the CDC website for cleaning standards.

Source: Jennifer Russell is a University of Illinois Extension educator in Community and Economic Development, serving communities in west central Illinois. Russell is a graduate of both University of Illinois and Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. Russell has worked with businesses, non-profits, and government for over 20 years.