Businesses in retail and hospitality are trying to paint a picture of a post-COVID-19 world in order to draft business strategies and enact survival plans.
And according to Jaquie Scammell, a customer service specialist, business owners are asking themselves a heap of overwhelming questions as they try to deduce whether people will continue to stay home, weary of discretionary spending, thinking twice about eating out at restaurants or booking their next holiday.
Ms Scammell believes that “anti-consumerism is on our very doorstep”. As such, she stressed the importance of regaining value in the eyes of cash-poor customers.
While this may sound easier said than done, she explained that the answers lie in principles of good customer service.
The value of ordinary moments
There are two areas in particular, she argued, that will carry more weight and value for consumers into the future.
Number one is our need to feel connected.
"We are being starved of connection with fellow humans and in-person companionship, so going forward, people will value more the opportunity to meet, connect and be social, human to human," Ms Scammell said.
Number two, she explained, is our comfort in living for today.
"We really feel the uncertainty in our future, so people have less confidence in long-term strategy and more comfort in the here and now."
These two areas present an important opportunity for businesses and the types of services they offer, Ms Scammell opined.
She explained that to restore consumer confidence, it’s crucial to support customers and make them feel connected and present in the here and now.
Hence, businesses must choose to adopt a service mindset, she said. This means embracing the seemingly ordinary moments and heightening initial interactions with each and every person they serve.
100% commitment to serve
Ms Scammell explained that how individuals influence and interact with people every day — colleagues, customers, teammates, their boss - is what matter most.
“No matter how small or insignificant human-to-human interactions may seem, how you treat people each and every moment lingers for hours, days and weeks,” she said, adding that this applies as much to online and over-the-phone interactions as it does to face-to-face meets.
“It will be the reason why people come back, why people are happy to work with you or for you and, in some cases, the reason why people leave you.”
But service doesn’t have to be big and grandiose to be meaningful, she said. Far more important than the amount of funds you invest is the level of attention you grant it.
“When you’re 100 per cent committed to something, you’re ‘all in’, unwavering — you aren’t going to let anything get in between you and your commitment,” Ms Scammell said.
“When you make conscious and committed choices, they get 100 per cent of your attention.”
Unconscious choices, she cautioned, get less than 100 per cent attention and can be detrimental to business.
She continued: “You can be easily charmed or distracted by something else, you’re not fully present in that moment, and you may not be fully attentive to what you’re experiencing.
“We all want to feel like we’re important to others and that when someone is serving us, they are doing so fully and freely, not out of obligation. Fundamentally, we want to be served by people who consciously choose to do so.”
She underlined that the approach taken to serving people is a big deal, and reminded that “extraordinary times call for extraordinary service” — now and into the future.