By Andie Burjek
Apr. 28, 2020
Reopening the economy after a deadly, global pandemic isn’t as simple as flipping a switch and returning to normal. Not only must employers consider the health and safety concerns of employees, but they must also think about the clients or customers who purchase their goods and services. If people don’t feel comfortable stepping into a customer-facing store like a restaurant, hotel or store, then these businesses will struggle to get enough business even as protections are transitioned away.
Currently, some retailers are addressing this concern by capping the amount of shoppers allowed in the store at the same time. Meanwhile, people stand outside and wait in line while standing six feet away from each other. Once a customer exits the store, the next one is allowed inside.
This system has helped a lot of people feel safer as they pick up their groceries. Still, it’s a process that could be improved, like by finding a way for customers to wait in line the least amount of time.
This process is also something that nonessential businesses may choose to adopt as small and large businesses begin to reopen in the United States. Even after the economy reopens, it’s likely that people will have to continue practicing social distancing and maybe even wearing a mask for the foreseeable future. Social distancing has the potential to limit the amount of people many establishments can hold at one time, from restaurants to bars to furniture stores.
Technology solutions are one option to potentially ease customer fears, get them back in stores and keep the economy running once quarantining ends.
Workforce.com’s Reopen tool is an example of a mobile app made for businesses that are cognizant of social distancing rules. Managers use Reopen to let customers know their business is open and safe, provide opening and closing hours for the store, and let people book time slots on their phone. It benefits individuals by giving them reassurance that they can feel comfortable and safe when they visit a business, and it benefits employers by allowing them to keep track of the number of customers on site. Much like restaurants allow patrons to make reservations, so can other businesses once they reopen.
Businesses that recognize customer anxieties can use solutions to help people feel heard, respected and a little more safe. Employers want to keep their businesses alive and individuals want to keep their livelihood going. Easing the anxieties people have about coming into contact with COVID-19 won’t dissipate so easily, and technology presents new and innovative ways to keep patrons safe.
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