The patience of the public is waning as there are mixed opinions about how and when to re-open businesses, schools, and public recreation areas. While many feel it is still too soon, there is a growing movement to end shelter-in-place orders. With the controversy comes increasing pressure to re-open the US economy and provide the public with access and ability to work, shop, and live their lives with some semblance of normalcy.

In this environment, businesses face an enormous challenge.
The rules associated with re-opening a business are not clearly defined, and even if defined, there is no current mechanism for widespread enforcement. States, cities, and counties are making decisions on if, when, and how businesses can relaunch to get the economy back on track. Some cities remain autonomous taking re-opening matters into their own hands while electing to disregard state orders in favor of local policymaking initiatives. Much to the dismay of Governor Gavin Newsom, Huntington Beach, California hosted thousands of visitors on Saturday, April 25th.

Known data about the coronavirus suggests even small numbers of cases can quickly multiply overtaking medical capacity and increasing risk for us all. Yet from an economic and public opinion perspective, politicians and medical advisors are faced with an enormous challenge. How do they manage risk and set proper guidelines within the collective new reality? And, more importantly, how can they best convince the public to follow the rules?

What are the new rules?
Clearly, confusion is the most likely state for business leaders facing the decision of when and how to re-open. As long as federal, state, county, and city governments set their own guidelines and policies, rightfully, businesses will be confused about the rules.If you abide by pre-conditions for re-opening set by the CDC, reopening the economy is dependent on a number of factors. Factors including a decline in COVID-19 cases, increased medical capacity (in terms of beds and supplies), widely available testing, a vaccine, contact tracing, and personal measures including wearing masks and gloves, social distancing, and continued shelter-in-place for those who are at risk.

Public perception of the above-listed safety tactics has a significant impact on whether consumers have trust in the brands they visit. Research published by our ongoing Consumer Sentiment Study indicates that brands that are trusted see more visits and have a greater chance of protecting their share of consumer spending. In the current environment of reduced consumer spending, it is more important than ever to protect relationships with existing customers. Furthermore, customers are trying new brands more frequently as they seek out locations with smaller crowds, obvious safety standards, and products that are out of stock elsewhere. This presents an opportunity for a business that experiences new trials to win new market share and new loyal customers to delight again. But not all brands are prepared, and a result, not all brands are actively protecting their customer base or winning over new customers who try them for the first time.

Who owns the decision-making process regarding business operations?
Amidst conflicting guidelines imposed by the government, which version of truth should a business abide by? Do they open their doors because politicians grant permission, or because medical experts have widely declared it safe to do so?

Business leaders have important decisions to make and a massive amount of responsibility to both their employees and their customers to get it right. Adequate safety measures need to be in place so employees feel comfortable returning to customer-facing work environments and customers are not worried about virus exposure.

How are the rules monitored?
We expect that businesses that choose to re-open will do so with strict guidelines in place to ensure health and safety measures are followed. The challenge is not in setting the rules, it is in monitoring that the rules are being adhered to – unfortunately, there is no policy that can compel 100% adoption. A location monitoring and feedback system is required to manage the execution of standards and practices across locations; this is especially true for large multi-unit operators. A practice of diligence is more necessary than ever to manage safety as failures present risk as customers and employees report infractions through social media, traditional media, and even lawsuits in severe cases.

How do you ensure you are operating safely?
It can be difficult to ramp systems up to monitor standards quickly and at scale to ensure safe operations. Market Force is offering a number of brand trust services to assist businesses and local governments to manage safety standards in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. For brands and government agencies that need assistance to monitor adherence to guidelines, our team is uniquely positioned to help!
Get in Touch
For government agencies looking to monitor public safety measures in the business community please contact SGriffith@MarketForce.com.

For businesses looking to monitor and manage safety measures across all locations please get in touch with BChristian@marketforce.com to schedule a briefing.

Complimentary Resources
Employee wellness study: Conduct an employee wellness study to assess employee attitudes and feelings to gain a comprehensive understanding of opportunities and concerns.

Consumer sentiment study highlights: Gain a broad-based understanding of consumer sentiment in the post COVID-19 world to inform how you operate.

Consumer Trust Audits information kit: visit all of your locations on a regular basis to monitor the execution of health and safety standards to protect employees and customers.
As a leading strategist with expertise in the design and implementation of CX solutions, Scott’s work focuses on innovation and solutions design to help Market Force clients grow sales and profits.