As we reel backward from the onslaught of COVID-19, we now find ourselves rebounding forward into 2021. The first quarter of 2021 has been full of uncertainty as the turn of administration put some doubts on the vaccine rollout. There are still many doubters in the population, even though more than 30% of the citizenry have been inoculated by the available vaccines. We hope for the best for the economy as restrictions are slowly getting lifted on most states.
The economy is a secondary victim of the virus. With thousands of stores closing down and a million more people becoming unemployed, economies around the world took a big hit. Hundreds of millions fell into extreme poverty as the pandemic raged on throughout 2020, while half a billion jobs and livelihoods became at risk and vulnerable.
However, there is hope for the economy as the restrictions get lifted, and the vaccine gets widely distributed. Millions are now allowed to go out again, even if there’s generally nowhere to go to. Thousands of shops are still closed, while a thousand more may even be closed permanently.
The Pandemic and the Customer Experience
The customer experience has changed due to COVID-19. Everyone who went into lockdown, quarantine, and the illness itself has undergone an extremely stressful time in their life. There are reports of depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses occurring much more frequently in the pandemic. As millions became unsure of how they would lead their lives from now on, many became anxious about the future. There was no news of a vaccine for months.
Overall feedback on the lockdown was positive initially. Everyone wanted to do their part in keeping a distance from each other. The working from home setup was exciting in the beginning. Everyone had more time to do all the things they wanted to, even while at home. They could spend more time with their loved ones in the safety and comfort of their home. Everything was supposedly perfect.
However, as the months went on, being stuck entirely at home, desperation started to seep in the cracks. Everyone’s resiliency was tested. There was nowhere to go to — except to go out to the groceries for supplies. Everybody was forced to meet their relatives and friends through online video calls. We can’t even socialize properly with ordinary people without being judged for breaking protocol.
Activities to do inside the house were slowly being checked out one by one. Most house repairs were already done halfway through the year due to extreme boredom. Do the roof gutters need cleaning? You’ve probably done that already. Do the basement floor and finishing need new coating? Yes, you had probably finished that project months ago. You try to live by the rules even if, evidently, millions are not following them.
Changes Under Eased Lockdown Restrictions
Now that everyone is free again to go back out in the world, there are many expectations the customers have for businesses that are opening back up. Safety has become the number one priority for customers trying to seek out regular businesses.
It is unsatisfactory to have multiple seats together at one table. Similar to the physical distancing (social distancing) rules of courtesy we have, seats are expected to have a few feet apart of space between each other. It would be even more prudent to have a limited number of seats for restaurants. The more people you pack in a venue, the higher the chances you contract the virus. According to studies, the proximity of only a few feet is enough to make transmission easier. The closer you are to someone who has it for a long period of time, the easier it becomes for that person to get you sick as well.
Having rubbing alcohol and sanitizers readily available at every entrance of your business is necessary to keep everyone’s hands clean from the virus. Not everyone has access to soap and water all the time. To keep their hands germ-free, it is necessary to have sanitizing liquids ready and available to those who want them. Every customer nowadays expects everyone to have, at least, alcohol ready with them. If they forget, your business can come to the rescue.
Contact tracing forms or applications have been integrated so well in most businesses that people do not even notice it. Contact tracing efforts are still important in the fight against COVID. Having your business laced up with the contact tracing application is necessary to keep everyone on track in the fight against spreading the virus unwittingly.
Lastly, masks should be a no-brainer requirement before entering your business. A lot of firms and businesses have a strict no-mask no-entry policy. With such a policy, you are showing your clients and customers that you care about their well-being. Similar to social distancing, masks help reduce the spread of the virus.