COVID-19 has wreaked havoc globally in 2020 and it does not seem to be letting up in the New Year, with new strains of the virus now rearing its ugly head in Europe. As many countries go into lockdown for the umpteenth time, what is going to happen to good old customer service as we know it, be it at retail stores or our favourite restaurants?
As with anything, there are always two sides to a coin. The pandemic has created a new normal and in the area of customer service, some good has come out of it.
Due to the safe management measures put in place, the number of people allowed in restaurants has decreased. As such, there will be less people dining in a restaurant at any one time. With less diners, the service staff will be able to give more attention to the ones that are present. This would not have been possible in the past where you have a fully packed restaurant that was understaffed.
Another positive that has arisen due to the pandemic will be the level of hygiene standards and cleanliness of stores and food outlets. Check out our food hygiene page with sample modules.
How COVID-19 impacted our lifestyle
Due to COVID-19, many shopping malls and food & beverage outlets now maintain extremely high levels of cleanliness to ensure the safety of their patrons and diners. High touchpoints are constantly disinfected to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and this indirectly prevents the spread of other infectious diseases like Hand Foot Mouth Disease (HFMD) and the common cold as well.
On the flip side though, some people may feel that customer service may be less personal nowadays. Reason being that staff have to wear masks so you cannot really see the smiles on their faces anymore. The social distancing practices also means that they cannot get too close to customers so that may feel a little distant, literally. The warmth and friendliness you used to feel from service staff will be a thing of the past and in its place, what you will find will be a human who is there to assist, but from a safe distance, and hiding behind a mask.
When it comes to flying though, it is no different. Even though air travel is still limited to certain groups of people and not opened to the masses yet, those who have been travelling this period have complained of a lack of service on board the aircraft.
Most airlines have stopped serving hot food and in its place instead are pre packed food like bread or biscuits. Food service is non-existent and passengers get bottled water instead for minimal interaction with the cabin crew.
Of course, all these measures are there to protect the passengers, as well as the cabin crew but it does seriously affect the high standards of service that people have come to expect on board an airplane.
From the warm smile of the flight attendant who greets you as you board the plane, to her attending to your request for a blanket after you are seated. These are the service touchpoints that we have come to enjoy and expect over the years pre-pandemic.
When you remove all these suddenly, it does leave a void and bad feeling, regardless of whether we are living in a new normal. It just does not feel like you are flying with style anymore.
So there you have it. Customer service is almost no longer recognizable in this new normal thanks to COVID-19 and no one really knows how long this virus is going to hang around. Fortunately at ArcLab our clients have created customer service modules to ensure we are still maintaining high standards. Feel free to give it a go here, maybe you are a service superstar!
Vaccines are now finally available but only time will tell if we can return to the good old days where we took good customer service for granted.