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In many ways, people have always seen the hospitality industry as a safe bet in terms of business. People will always need places to food, lodging and entertainment when they travel. COVID-19, however, turned those expectations upside down, with facilities like restaurants and hotels taking some of the hardest hits. As you try to get your company back on its feet, you’ll find that offering a fantastic customer experience is critical to restoring trust and propelling a full recovery.
Two major shifts
Concerns about the spread of the virus led to distancing and sanitation regulations that made traditional spacing and hygiene protocols insufficient. Facilities needed to discourage the use of cash and other “touchable” tools like menus. Companies have grown more reliant on technology while developing ways for people to browse, pay or play online.
Necip Camcigil, founder of One Life Kitchen in the Dubai Design District, notes that trends related to online/tabletop QR code ordering and spacing have persisted even as facilities open for dine-in options. Patrons feel more comfortable eating outside, as being in the open air reduces the risk of coronavirus transmission. People also prefer takeout to dine-in, with just 65 percent of visitors claiming to feel comfortable eating inside a restaurant in early August 2021.
Customers are demanding more transparency about facilities’ cleanliness procedures. It’s common for businesses to use disposable items (e.g., cutlery), place disinfectant at entrances/exits while requiring staff to wear masks and gloves.
To begin rebuilding, reconsider your company’s physical space. Even after the pandemic is under greater control, people will likely remain more comfortable with eating outside. Refurbishing or introducing outdoor eating areas can allow you to ease anxieties while potentially expanding the long-term number of patrons you can serve at a time. Regardless of how you set up the space physically, invest in cleanliness to help customers feel safe.
In the technology space, continue to offer customers lots of options for interacting and completing transactions. People have become accustomed to the conveniences of such alternatives and will want them to continue. Accept that the old ways have dissolved and work within the new preferences.
This is a period of extreme behavior adjustments, which makes feedback across all touch points extremely valuable for understanding how to move forward and satisfy customers. Online options must be part of this process, not only because there are now more tech-based touch points on the visitor journey, but also because you need a convenient, efficient and affordable way to guide iterative adjustments.
One of the simplest and best strategies is to conduct omnichannel NPS and CSAT surveys using a customer experience tool. These will allow you to identify specific pain points, and with good analysis, you’ll be able to see how your company’s changes influence customer reactions. Track your metrics on a live dashboard so you can see patron sentiments in real-time. This can go a long way toward preventing small issues from ballooning because you can resolve issues more quickly.
Good two-way communication is the number one goal
Investing in cleanliness while embracing new uses of technology that support online interactions and transactions, is essential. No matter what options you adopt within these parameters, invite constant feedback with NPS, CSAT, or similar surveys using omnichannel survey software. Armed with real-time metrics, you can engage with customers exactly as they need you to and build real consumer confidence.
Related: 7 Ways to Snag Tourist Dollars and Keep Locals Happy at the Same Time