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Top 10 factors your staff should be trained in to keep customers & colleagues safe beyond Covid-19

20 Jul 2020
Mark Smith, International Expert Trainer and Curriculum Writer

As the government announces face masks are to become mandatory in shops across England we are further reminded of the importance of everyone’s role in minimising risk to help keep each other safe.  As service professionals we should be open minded in our approach to implementing new ways of working and should continually strive to consistently provide the highest standards of service to our customers as safely as possible.

So what are the key aspects your staff should be trained in for you to be confident they’re empowered to keep customers and colleagues protected?

PPE in a customer facing role

Beyond Covid-19 staff will sometimes be expected to wear PPE to perform some duties. This will depend on the job role and the sector of your business.  The risk of spreading or contracting infection is just as likely between internal customers and colleagues as it is with external customers, visitors and guests so make sure PPE fits well and follow the appropriate guidelines for its use.

Maintaining good personal hygiene

It may be obvious to say but our hands are touching mouths and eyes, food being prepared, food being eaten, surfaces and objects all the time which can easily spread germs and cross contaminate.  Regular hand washing is vital to reduce the spread of bacteria and viruses and when it’s not possible a hand sanitiser is an effective step to reduce the chance of getting sick or spreading infection.

Behavioural expectations on public transport

Before customers and colleagues even arrive at a workplace there are unfamiliar sites and changes in behavioural expectations.  People wearing masks and gloves are commonplace and maintaining social distancing where possible is expected and supported.  The journey from the moment of leaving home should be considered and cautious with regards to reducing the spread of disease.

Communicating key information and setting clear boundaries at arrival and entrance

Keep key information on your shop front, such as opening hours, clear and concise to allow people to read from a distance and reduce the need to congregate.  Queuing at socially acceptable intervals is now expected but can still be frustrating so make markings clear and consider including approximate wait times to help manage expectations.

Greeting customers, guests and visitors

Making visitors feel welcome in your establishment is more important than ever.  Even if wearing PPE, eye contact and a smile will go a long way to reassuring your customers as well as respecting their personal space and making allowances for extra distance in areas where people may congregate, such as lobbies and waiting areas.  Make sure guidance on how to behave once inside is clear, reasonable and well signed and ensure you dispose of or clean any innocuous items such as bells, pens, paperwork and key cards which may pass infection.

Adapting the interior environment

A floor plan which subtly encourages the flow of people in an efficient direction will help to minimise unwanted contact.  Extra spacing between tables, decluttered spaces, allowances for single occupancy lift usage, smaller sittings with a higher frequency of turnover are all ways to reduce contact between guests and employees and will help to encourage people to return to this new normal with confidence.

Customer interaction

It may be necessary for staff and customers to mutually handle goods, if this is the case keep sanitiser available and visible to help reassure people.  Polite notices to discourage people handling goods may be required and it’s a good idea to keep your website up to date so you can direct people to it for further detail.  Clean any self-serve technology regularly and it goes without saying, if handling food or beverages strict guidelines must be followed to ensure cleanliness.

Taking payments

Where possible, encourage contactless payment by card or phone but also keep handsets regularly cleaned for when contactless isn’t an option.  People will still use cash and those that do are more likely to be the most vulnerable members of society such as the elderly, so be sure to use gloves where necessary and wash hands or sanitise after each transaction.  If there are multiple payment areas, keep them distanced and use screens if appropriate.

Maintaining facilities and a clean environment

Generally, customers will always expect a clean establishment but now, more than ever, it’s absolutely critical.  Reassess your cleaning manifest and expand its list of criteria and frequency of attention where appropriate.  There may be new additions to your rota including door locks, flush mechanisms, soap dispensers and sanitary machines.  All public areas, conveniences and facilities, whether for customers, staff or communal must adhere to high levels of cleanliness which could also include spot checking on top of scheduled inspections.

The importance of being ‘fit for work’

If unwell, staff need to consider whether they should be in work but pay particular attention to the symptoms of Covid-19, follow government guidance on social distancing and act in accordance with any organisational policies.  It is no good applying all the good practice suggested here if they turn up to their job in a condition that is not fit for work.

Training staff in how to behave and what to expect in a post Covid market will go a long way in re-establishing confidence in the UK consumer.  WorldHost 2020 is a 60-minute e-learning programme which covers the main changes service professionals will encounter on a day to day basis, focusing on three key aspects; the working environment, peoples behavioural changes and health, safety and hygiene.

Help empower your staff to keep your customers and colleagues safe.  Find out more about the programme here:

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