Wed 19 Aug 2020
You know your environment is safe – but do your staff and customers?
Do people actually feel safe entering your environment? Has the investment you’ve made in securing your place of work, retail or study, actually had an impact on how people perceive your environment?
While you might have taken serious security measures at your site, if it isn’t clear from the outside that you’ve initiated extra precautions to protect against Covid-19, people aren’t necessarily going to feel confident enough to step inside.
- Do they understand the changes you’ve made and what to expect once inside?
- Have you clearly communicated your expectations of behaviour once someone enters your environment?
- How obvious is it from outside your site that you’ve made Covid-19 security investments?
This is a communication and optics piece: you have to show from the outside that you’ve invested in people’s safety to restore those trusting relationships you built previously – and in this post, we explore the best ways to do this.
Combating people’s fears
One of the biggest factors preventing people from re-entering environments is fear. The spectrum of fears that people are currently experiencing is vast – there is a lot at risk:
- Catching Covid-19 themselves and becoming incredibly sick
- Infecting loved ones who they come into contact with
- Not being able to work and earn money to support their family
If you’re a business, you’re probably also experiencing fears of your own, such as:
- Putting staff or visitors at risk of getting sick
- Getting government guidelines wrong and being punished for it
- Receiving negative feedback from customers/visitors at your site
- Not having people turn up at your environments at all
- Lack of income and loss of earnings, putting your business at risk of closure.
Feelings of safety and security are the new currency in our present world. If you are able to combat visitors’ fears, you will grow brand loyalty and long-term trust (thus reducing your own fears). Ratish Mani, Technical Product Manager at IndigoVision, explains the conflicting fears many businesses are experiencing right now:
The biggest pressure is that businesses need to make customers, visitors and staff feel safe enough to return. Whether it’s a supermarket, cinema, school or office, businesses need to create a healthy environment, yet also make sure that they still generate revenue.
Making your message clear
In modern times, people feel encouraged by the sight of technology – it looks official, communicates that you value visitors, and means there’s less space for human error. If you illustrate that you are safeguarding against Covid-19 with the help of technology, automation and cutting-edge tools, a visitor is far more likely to feel reassured.
Bernardo Motta, International Business Development Manager at Agora explains that it’s about making people feel as safe as possible, as though you’ve taken every possible precaution:
Businesses need to be really clear on their messaging. You are saying to your customer or employee: "You are going to be safe inside here." It's not a medical promise because nobody can promise that, but you can show everyone that you’re doing your best with the available technology.
The official guidelines are constantly changing and evolving – and differ from country to country – so it’s understandable that security teams are anxious about ‘getting it right’. To wear a mask or not wear a mask? How far apart should people stand from one another? Not knowing what the latest expected behaviour is can prevent people from going back out into the world. Ratish Mani adds:
People don't feel safe enough, even if governments are saying it’s safe. After so many months and the messaging we’ve all been getting, people aren’t going to suddenly feel comfortable going out, unless they have convincing evidence that it’s safe.
Not just for economic reasons, but for mental wellbeing, many people are now feeling like a balance needs to be struck between staying safe and resuming their regular activities. Providing peace of mind to customers and employees is essential – and that’s where the IndigoKiosk AI solution can add real value. It’s an obvious piece of kit which can be clearly seen at a business’ exterior, and establishes a clear sense of expectations upon entering.
Communicating your investment
Whether you’re using the same security technology as before, but have repurposed it, or have invested in a new security system, customers, visitors and staff need to know about it. You and your team might know you’re as safe as can be, but do the people you rely on to ‘turn up’?
Hand-written notes in windows, hand sanitiser stations and a masked security guard often aren’t enough to reassure people – or enough of a precaution to ensure a genuinely healthy, safe environment. Bernardo Motta explains the difference between these informal solutions and IndigoVision’s offer:
I've seen businesses putting out posters saying, "We are open," and giving guarantees of social distancing and hand gel inside. IndigoVision is offering a new ecosystem of products that are designed to make sure that if a person is on the street and they pass in front of a restaurant or venue, they will immediately see there are technology-supported solutions in place to make them feel safer.
IndigoKioskAI forms part of your ecosystem; a screen at the entrance to your building telling people whether they can or can’t enter, based on whether they’re wearing a mask, and what the current occupancy is inside. It is visible from outside a building, communicating how seriously you’re taking safety. This lays out expectations of behaviour once inside: keeping your distance from other people and keeping your mask on. Bernardo Motta explains the impact of this on a visitor’s mentality:
The thermal camera plus the kiosk are both highly visible devices. You can see them from a long way off. The screening queue and kiosk monitor become part of your procedure to enter your building and people come to accept this – most of them would rather be over-monitored than under. You are presenting an image of your organisation that is meticulous and vigilant.
With or without the physical presence of a guard at entrance points, the IndigoVision solution still monitors your environment. This means, if you choose to, your security team can be located in the control room, monitoring entrances from a safe place, and only responding to cases in person where an alarm is sounded.
Alternatively, the presence of a real person at entrances can be a reassuring thing to visitors when combined with a piece of technology. You may decide, as long as a guard has the appropriate PPE, that a combination of the IndigoKioskAI solution, and a physical body at the scene, has the maximum effect. Ratish Mani explains how the data collected at entrances can help build useful reports:
A visible technology like this system is a step up. If there’s a breach or incident, the IndigoKioskAI plugs into Agora and Control Center for businesses to get one complete solution all in one place, plus they can generate a report to send to the police or manager.
Advocating for your security system
Not only does your site need to look secure from the outside, but you need people who visit to advocate for the safety measures you’ve put in place, encouraging others to visit your environment, too.
Word of mouth is great, but utilising social media and your website to illustrate the lengths you’ve gone to is vital. If people are still at home for large portions of their day, you need to reach them on the communication methods they have – you can’t guarantee someone will walk past your building and see you're set up. Ratish Mani recommends:
Businesses need to actually talk about their sanitation methods, temperature screening, occupancy control and face-mass detection. Knowing all the facts and having the information up front, gives people the confidence to make the decision about whether or not to go into an environment.
Your colleagues and staff need to use their own social media platforms to show the safety precautions people can expect when they come to your facility, and you might consider an email campaign welcoming people back with an introduction to your new safety measures. This will garner a wider reach and present a show of unity and confidence across your team. Bernardo Motta explains that what people want from their experience beyond the home is shifting:
People are going to start filtering restaurants by whether they have these healthy ecosystem technologies or not. Venue reviewing apps on the market can start to screen you out of results, because you haven’t invested in your site’s safety.
Once people actually do turn up at your environment, you might decide to have a security guard or other member of staff visible at entrances so they can answer questions face to face, and offer another layer of reassurance.
If you’re not shouting loudly enough about your solution – and in the right places – many people just won’t know about your initiatives and will still feel it’s too much of a risk to return to your building. Meanwhile, your competitors might be doing a better, more convincing job, which could lead to you losing customers. Ratish Mani explains how the competition is fiercer than ever:
It may be a business that a customer really likes. Then they go back and see that they haven’t taken sufficient security measures. The customer isn’t going to feel comfortable, even if it's their favourite place. So the biggest risk for businesses is not only the return on investment, but the possibility of losing long-term loyalists and patrons who have a history of giving them custom.
It isn’t enough to merely have a great Covid-19 security system in place at your office, school or business – you need to be telling people about it and reassuring them of their safety.
Buying IndigoKioskAI, the Agora software, or any other Covid-19-ready solution is such a huge investment that it’s going to be wasted if no-one knows you have it. Your visitors need to be able to see your investment to feel it.