As Australia gets back into the swing of things, business as usual is still not an option for those in hospitality. Unlike lockdowns, risk doesn’t have an expiry date. 

Amid the COVID-19 vaccine rollout and snap circuit breakers, it’s evident that the hospitality sector needs to keep safety their number one priority. Doing so involves upending a longstanding cornerstone of the industry — in this new world, the customer is not always right. 

One of the biggest challenges for businesses right now is the steep rise in complacency, from both customers and weary staff. Recent research by SafetyCulture found that one in three (37%) Australians believe the coronavirus is no longer a real threat*. A further forty per cent admit they rarely or never wear masks in public*. 

Customer reluctance to comply with pandemic protocols like mask-wearing and social distancing compound the difficulties businesses already face with a series of evolving government guidelines. 

As the eyes and ears on the ground, staff members are best placed to implement such safety practices. But it also increases their exposure to potentially negative interactions and high-pressure situations with customers. 

Technology can go a long way towards improving employees’ and customers’ experiences. The right tools can act as a buffer and a boon — making sure every detail and element of risk is accounted for in business operations while easing daily stressors and empowering staff to speak up.  

Building positive customer rapport is a new ballgame

Now is the time to consider what new training your staff need to do their best work. As guidelines continue to shift retraining staff will become a key part of business. Consider introducing new safety training methods that lean into ways people are consuming media, such as mobile-first platforms that feature smaller chunks of information. When repeated often, these micro-lessons can help ingrain practices in memory. 

Use your venue as a mouthpiece for safety

Make your venue work hard for you on the safety front so that your staff aren’t the only mouthpiece for compliance. Reduce opportunities for negative interactions by using the space to your advantage, adding physical enhancements that make it easy for patrons to do the right thing.  

Details like displaying real-time safety checks, signage, sanitiser stations, and easily navigable layouts, allow your venue to become a safety signal. This frees up staff to focus on elevating the consumer experience in other ways — rather than their first interaction with customers being purely instructive.

Fight process fatigue by making processes frictionless 

Fight process fatigue by making ways of working simple when it comes to COVID-safe protocols. This means eliminating unnecessary red tape and breaking down information into manageable chunks that people can act on. Simple checklists, repeated often, can be the most effective method for keeping on top of evolving compliance measures.

Having easy-to-use technology that empowers staff can go a long way towards improving their effectiveness in carrying out safety protocols. By equipping staff with the tools and autonomy to drive in-store initiatives forward, COVID-safe practices become easier to follow and maintain. 

Tech can do some of the heavy lifting for hospitality workers. Platforms such as iAuditor can help staff perform checks, report issues, and collect on-the-ground data in minutes

It’s time to stop thinking of safety as simply a box to tick internally. In this new world, there are new rules. ‘The customer is always right’ takes a backseat and safety has right of way as a value proposition. Now is the time to kick into high gear and tap into technology that shapes a culture where everyone — from staff members to diners — is empowered to act.

Throw out the rulebook and tap into tech with SafetyCulture’s Free Tools & Resources To Grow Your Organisation in 2021.

About SafetyCulture

SafetyCulture is a global technology company which supports businesses to do their best work every day. Its adaptive, mobile-first products help to enhance operations and foster high-performing, safer workplaces. Used by over 28,000 organizations, its flagship products, iAuditor and EdApp enable teams to perform checks, train staff, report issues, capture data and communicate fluidly. In 2020, iAuditor was named winner of Best SaaS for Health and Safety or Risk Management at the SaaS Awards. 

*Methodology: All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Australia Pty Ltd.  The total sample size was 1,024 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 22nd – 26th October 2020.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all Australian adults (aged 18+) nationally.