During uncertain times it’s not uncommon to see radical shifts in customer behaviour. As a tradie or service professional specifically, you’ve no doubt had to adapt to large changes caused by economic and social forces in the past.
However, COVID-19 is unlike anything we’ve seen before and its effects are still being felt right across the world and this will likely continue until a vaccine is developed.
If you interact directly with customers in your line of work, you’ve no doubt noticed how their concerns about your professional conduct have settled squarely on the need for personal health and safety.
There is a real and very valid fear amongst many people that letting anyone, even a tradie or service person into their home or business is actively placing them at risk of contracting COVID.
This is a concern that must be addressed in your everyday business practices because, even after the all-clear is given, it’s likely this fear will not disappear for a long while as it remains fresh in recent memory.
In this article, we’ll cover several practical solutions you and your team can employ to help keep your customers feeling safe and reassured that you have their best interests constantly in mind.
What you’ll find in this article:
- Communication strategies
- Plain-view hygiene tactics
- A discussion of body language
- Using documents to reassure clients
- Methods for reinforcing professionalism
These topics are self-contained, so feel free to scroll to the points that apply to your business practices.
Increasing your communication with customers
Your customers are looking to you for guidance and clarity when it comes to their trade or service-related issues.
Take this concept and apply it to your practices for ensuring their health and safety and you’re already on the right track to keeping your clients feeling happy and secure.
It’s important to value empathy at all stages of customer contact, making sure to listen to the concerns of your clients and answer any questions they have no matter how silly they may seem.
Remember that regardless of how badly COVID-19 is affecting us, we’re all in this together and your interactions with customers should reflect this completely.
It’s also worth considering that the level of detail about a job that you provide to your clients might need to change to meet current circumstances. When people feel scared or anxious, they’re much more likely to pay closer attention to tiny details, so be ready to provide information that past clients have probably never cared about before now.
Helping anxious customers feel more at ease is an essential skill for any tradie or service professional. This short article on the subject covers some great points particularly related to situations where customers need to let someone enter their home.
Practising ‘Plain-view’ hygiene
A simple yet incredibly effective tactic for showing clients that you’re taking both COVID-19 as well as their health and safety seriously is to handle any hygiene-related tasks where your customer can see you.
A great example of this is taking your hand sanitiser with you to the door, rather than applying it in your work vehicle or truck as you probably would normally. This may take a few extra seconds but the instant gratification from your clients will more than make up for this in the long run.
This concept can be taken further in practices such as social distancing and even mask-wearing. Mention out loud to customers in passing that you’ll be making every effort to stay 1.5m apart and wear a mask at all stages of your work.
By doing this you’re showing them that their health and safety is at the front of your mind and they’ll naturally feel more at ease as a consequence.
While it’s important to bring good hygiene to every job, it’s also crucial to think about what you might be taking away from on-site work. The NSW government has put together a great resource section for keeping your place of business safe against external COVID threats. This can be particularly useful if your employees are moving in and out of the premises multiple times each day. Check it out here.
Changing body language and physical interactions
As a tradie or service professional you’re probably used to adding a handshake to your daily interactions with customers.
Unfortunately, COVID-19 has brought an end to this kind of person-to-person contact and the worse the virus gets, the more physical interaction needs to be cut out of client relations.
While handshakes may be a thing of the past for now, even something as simple as leaning or kneeling on a surface while you work may make customers uneasy.
It’s not a reflection on you, but on their overall worry about current circumstances
The best course of action is to talk to your client and discuss what you need to do and where you need to go to get the job done right. Chances are if your customer has all the details they need, they’ll be more than happy to let you go about your work in peace.
Using documentation to reassure clients
A current and very serious concern that many customers have is whether a tradie or service person is even permitted to be visiting their premises to complete work.
Whether or not you need a permit to work differs from state to state but if you do, it’s important to show customers that they won’t risk a fine if they hire you.
Attach any relevant documentation such as permits to email correspondence and carry physical copies on you to provide to customers when you arrive at their premises.
Part of your job is now meeting client concerns head-on, and there’s nothing that calms the nerves like seeing an official document proving you’re legally allowed to help them.
Top Tip: For more information about Australian work restrictions and whether or not your state/territory requires tradespeople & service professionals to hold working permits, have a look at the Government’s COVID-19 alerts page.
Reinforcing your professionalism
In uncertain times customers need to be reassured at all points that you as a professional have their best interests at heart.
Make an effort to connect with your customers and remind them that as a tradie or service professional, you’re here to help them above all else. Take the time to understand each issue your client has and work with them to reach an agreement on how you’ll arrive, what you’ll do, and how you’ll ensure their safety throughout.
There’s no such thing as too much professionalism during uncertain times.
These are just a few points to help you get started and there are no doubt many other great ways of helping customers feel safe and happy. Remember that every little bit of work you do to help your clients will without a doubt be paid back over time and then some.
After all, it’s unlikely anyone is going to forget COVID-19 and they’re equally unlikely to forget the tradie or service person who helped them out while respecting their safety as well.
If you found this post useful, consider sharing it with a fellow tradie or service professional, or on Facebook or Twitter. You could also share your tactics for keeping customers feeling safe and secure over at the AroFlo Forum, we’d love to hear what you’ve got to say on the topic.
Author: James Burgess