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Helping retailers maintain communications and operations during times of Social Distancing

Since the emergence and rapid spread of Covid-19, we’ve been living through unprecedented times which has seen a huge strain on every aspect of our society…. View Article


Helping retailers maintain communications and operations during times of Social Distancing

Since the emergence and rapid spread of Covid-19, we’ve been living through unprecedented times which has seen a huge strain on every aspect of our society. For retailers this challenge has been particularly acute with the rules about what they can and can’t do changing all the time – the future has never been so unclear. What is crystal clear, at least for the next few months is social distancing and remote working are the new norms and that clear and effective communication to the people that matter has never been more important.  Subsequently many retailers are leveraging online survey technology to connect with key stakeholders providing both employees and customers with a conduit to get their voice heard in a way that is safe and scalable to drive positive change.

Following the UK’s recent lockdown and the new controls that have come into place regarding which types of stores could stay open and the new social distancing rules that need to be adhered to, the need for effective communications and feedback has never been more critical, as people struggle to keep up with the changes and seek swift answers to any worries they may have.

Consequently, SmartSurvey have seen been a big uptake in the use of their survey platform among retailers, as they ramp up their communications and use of software to obtain feedback.

Re-assuring customers and in-store staff

Due to the nature of the technology it’s built on and flexibility it offers in terms of its many distribution options, digital surveys are a quick, safe and effective way of getting feedback en masse from customers and employees about the challenges they are facing to better inform COVID-19 operational strategy and ensure customers are as comfortable as possible and continue to spend and employees are happy to work.

With all the supermarkets bringing in new social distancing rules, its likely other essential retailers allowed to stay open will quickly follow suit. But with each retailer interpreting guidance differently it can be overwhelming for both customers and employees to know precisely where they stand. It’s important to ensure everyone is clear and the measures are practical and can they be adhered, and if not, why not.

This is where retailers are effectively leveraging surveys to ask those important questions, which can quickly uncover concerns and frustrations in both the workforce and customer base, enabling them to pivot and deliver a better and safer environment.

While both audiences will be anxious about Coronavirus, their concerns will be distinct to their own specific circumstances. In-store employees who are worried about coming into work, are likely to be most concerned about what extra procedures and equipment have been put in place to protect them from customers coming into the stores. This could be anything from ensuring there are adequate markers on the floor and in-store signage to ensure customers are sufficiently distanced from them, to having plexiglass barriers at tills and counters for extra protection from customers passing through.

In contrast customers anxious about coming into stores will have their own unique set of worries.  They could be seeking extra assurance on issues such as the steps you are taking to minimise crowding in-store, what procedures you have in place to keep customers 2 meters apart as they travel around the store, and what additional steps are being taken to improve hygiene.

With new policy being put in place at speed its fundamental to understand how well it’s working. With the right questions you can quickly gather feedback to adapt and get into a better position to alleviate concerns and make improvements to ensure everyone feels comfortable in store.

Digital teams need supporting too

With well-known retailers including John Lewis, Primark, Curry’s PC World and many more having to close their physical premises the focus has now shifted to their e-commerce sites which the government continues to support.

However, behind every website, there is still a team required to fulfil orders placed. NEXT recently announced they had decided to close their operations following concerns from warehouse and distribution staff, while Dixons Carphone Warehouse has seen a surge in online buying with sales up 8% as customers purchase technology to enable them to work from home.

Two very different scenarios, but both organisations will have had to engage with their workforce and ensure employees are comfortable to continue to support the business through these challenging times. Surveys are a great way to be able to take the pulse of employees in an instant and rapidly gather the feedback to make the right operational decision.

For retailers that are continuing to operate online, running quick feedback surveys can help to understand what barriers there are to customers buying. For instance, if your survey uncovered site visitors have concerns over ordering because of interaction with delivery drivers you can change your site messaging to reassure them packages will be left at their door and social distancing maintained. Simple web pop-ups are fantastic for capturing this ‘in the moment’ feedback.

Getting answers to critical questions both customers and employees have can enable retailers to make smarter decisions both across digital touchpoints as well the operations teams the underpin them.

Getting through this together

While it’s hard to predict how long this current crisis will continue, we will get through it. In the meantime, maintaining effective relationships with both employees and customers is vital to keeping them engaged and ensuring businesses come out the other side as strong as possible.

About SmartSurvey:

SmartSurvey is a UK-based provider of digital survey solutions. Launched in 2010, the company has rapidly grown into one of the leading online survey software suppliers in the UK and across Europe. Its powerful, secure and easy to use software, enables customers to create innovative surveys and questionnaires to deliver impactful results. SmartSurvey is multi award winning, ISO 27001 accredited and Cyber Essentials Plus Certified company, which hosts all its data securely on UK-based servers.

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