As lockdown restrictions ease and we come out from our homes into shops, restaurants and showrooms, those of us who are wrestling with the changes to working practices to keep employees and customers safe, also need to think about our welcome.
Venturing out of hibernation on one of the first sunny days since lockdown eased, we walked around a local town.
We walked into an art gallery on that moochy afternoon, and were greeted with a raised hand and the words “Stop!”
The second part of the welcome was
“have you gelled your hands?”
The third “I need your name and address to comply with government guidelines”
This gallery wasn’t busy, and it wasn’t going to get busier if that was the welcome.
On another occasion we’ve called about trying out some new office chairs. Call me old fashioned but I have to sit in a chair before buying. Showrooms haven’t been opened, so we’ve waited until the ease of restrictions to be able to try and buy.
We called a manufacturer that has a showroom. The response was abject fear that a stranger might come into the building, and a response that Health & Safety would have to be happy before we could go. There was a redirect to go to London to a showroom there.
I know people are scared, I’m not making light of that at all. One of the positives of this whole situation is that we’ve started to appreciate how important shop workers are to our lives, and some have had to work through this, while others have taken refuge behind their computers.
But if you want to welcome people back, if you want them to have a good experience so that they come back again, think about your welcome and if you need to incorporate changes; make the welcome warm.
A clipboard and a form changes the dynamic of the welcome, and after the year we’ve all had, we all want to feel welcome somewhere.