Innovation,  Leadership,  Marketing,  Strategy


It is our collective responsibility to flatten the curve regarding the virus and there are no “buts” to that. You do not however make things more difficult for your business at this time. As shoppers are spending more time at home, tightening their spending because of uncertainties related to their health, wealth, and jobs, the last thing a business wants to do is add more friction to the customer experience.

I recently went to a restaurant and saw a tawdry presentation of a makeshift hand wash station at its entrance. The bucket (water tank) was placed on a bin and a tap was installed with a bowl on the floor to collect the water should anyone decide to wash their hands. It was not a pleasing to the eye at all. Even worse, a sign was placed at the shop front stating that washing hands is mandatory before entry. Myself and my partner just strolled past to check out the other restaurants on the same aisle.

I kept asking myself why that should be a prerequisite to coming into a restaurant? Restaurants are only allowed to do take-outs and deliveries which even makes it more strange. Did they take into consideration their target audience? Many of whom are middle to upper class folks classified under the white collar segment who usually will not make light of personal hygiene during a pandemic. I really doubt it.

I think organisations are just starting to overcook this “Covid” thing. To be sure myself and my partner were not unnecessary being finicky about the strange health protocol, I came out to observe a few customer’s reaction while we waited for the order. It was the same. They look at the wash hand station, the sign and just walked past. Someone in the restaurant should have realised something was off since they put that “Covid thing” up. Perhaps the decision was straight from above and in an organisation where feedback from middle and direct reports is not tolerated or encouraged, not much will change.

The overkill is also evident in many other sectors. At customer call centres, call waiting times can last for hours all because a unit is working from home this week. Many of these callers will have common questions about how to access products and services, yet these organisations are ill-equipped to provide this information at scale across numerous channels.

Customers make phone calls to solve a problem for instance. Whether it is to gossip, track an order placed online or conduct business transactions over the phone; it is solving a problem. I suspect a sales associate that places a number of calls daily following up on leads will not fancy hearing an automated recording about “wash your hands, due to the Covid bla, bla, bla.” They will switch to another line for sanity sake. I mean… it could be a ring tone but not play every damn time a customer places a call before it actually starts to ring!

This article is not about discouraging awareness of the virus. Actually, people need to hear it often as awareness and education on the virus is still very poor. Sadly many still think it is an hoax. But it is not just going to happen while customers are placing a phone call for example. What this article is all about, is not making a tough period even tougher because you have allowed Covid takeover your processes. Let the competition do their job, do not make it easy for them by introducing strange processes that customers will literally interpret as “we don’t need your business. Buzz off”. 

I had no intention of going to the other restaurant for example. Well known for sloppy customer service, but I will rather manage that, than put up with washing my hands because I want to order a take-out. Provision of hand sanitisers would suffice in my opinion and a proper wash hand basin available in-store. Customer temperature checks and automated hand sanitisers before entry is what should be made compulsory.

Just imagine every restaurant and shop introduce such a policy, will I still have my palmar flexion creases left by the time Covid disappears? A few questions should help with organisations trying to inculcate physical distancing into their business operations.


As long as you are not a charity organization, you are in business to make a profit. Keeping staff and customers safe must be a major priority and the business must also be kept afloat. Stop feeling guilty advertising at this time and stop postponing your marketing campaigns, adapt it to the current situation and get on with it. Look around you; your organization has got customers to attend to, employees to pay and a supply chain to manage.

Even your employees, getting paid during the pandemic is a problem to be solved. So, how to stay afloat and glide through the storm should be your focus. You should be able to take a look at what you do, why you do it and if it is still tenable to meet customer needs.  What are the implications of the recent pandemic on your business? You need to analyse it from the perspective of the customer experience and the bottom-line, and adjust accordingly.


 As companies should not let crisis go to waste, so should customer facing staff not let a transaction go to waste. It should be a culture of the business. Get to know them, why they are buying and who they are buying for without too much prodding. For some businesses, it is pretty obvious like a lady shopping for a toddler. Others are a lot more difficult to tell, like a slim lady buying a plus size garment in a female fashion store. But this should have been a practice not just during the pandemic. That way you have a database to engage with.

And if you have not been shoring up your database, you have current customers to work with. Listen to customers. What are their major pain points? How can the business deliver the product and service simply better than the competition? You need to take them into consideration rather than be preoccupied with your products. When you start receiving one too many calls asking about delivery options, you may want to consider creating that option because that is a sign of things to come.

 Are they tech savvy? Are they ready for that change from physical transactions to online transactions? Take for example a business into local fabrics such as lace with a vast customer base of predominantly women in their mid-50’s to late 60’s. They may be averse to taking to technology to buy and would rather see the pandemic out than purchase online.  But the business cannot wait on that. Perhaps the business may want to introduce familiar platforms first such as WhatsApp, get them comfortable and see the benefits from a convenience perspective, then to other platforms much later depending on the response. The restaurant I talked about earlier, is surrounded by a residential node of highbrow folks that would not engage in what appears gaudy. They will either pass or ignore your Covid protocol. The former is one you cannot afford.


As aforementioned, it’s a collective responsibility if we are to flatten the curve of the virus. That said, you want to look inwards and what impact however small or big you want to play in the collective fight to curb and rid our society of the virus. It could be raw materials used in processing your product, liquid cash, technological know-how or even staff expertise. What your organisation must not do is play to the gallery. No organisation should put itself under pressure and strain finite resources. What you cannot afford, do not sponsor or donate. You do not want to sponsor the government and non-profit organisations only to start laying off employees few weeks later. That will not sit well with the public.

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