This article was originally published in The Business News:

When deciding what businesses in which I give my hard-earneddollars, I reflexively search for a few indicators before entering the store, shop and or restaurant. For instance, I evaluate the following: cleanliness, smiles, eye contact, a greeting of acknowledgement and a sense of order. Now add to the list:active use of precautions such as facemasks and social distancing, among both employees and customers.

Now you might be asking yourself, as a marketing professional, why are you spouting off about facemasks? I am going to take you through my thought process as a marketing professional because these indicators of precautions are now part of your overall customer experience, which is a staple to marketing. You can do all of the best marketing in the world, but if your customer experience is not up to par, it means nothing. In today’s day and age, up to par means doing whatever it takes to ensure the customers’ experience is a safe one where not only dothey not get sick, but also one where employees remain healthy as well.

Moreover, I do not want my phone ringing because there is an outbreak that is tied back to your place of business. While that is good for my business, to help you out during a crisis, it is one scenario I would prefer not to occur in the first place simply because it is preventable. It does not matter if it does not become public knowledge through the media. People talk and if someone learns of an outbreak at your place of business, the results could be devastating. Most recently I had a friend’s son test positive for COVID-19. He and others in the group frequented a number of bars and other businesses. They had to temporarily shut down. The goal is to keep your business open.

I have heard and noticed that small businesses are not seeing the number of customers they are used to seeing. From my personal perspective, family member of 6, we are only visiting what is absolutely necessary such as grocery stores. I have three kids with autoimmune diseases so if I see the local convenience store employees are not wearing masks, we are not entering the store.

Another friend of mine, family member of four, who is undergoing chemotherapy, headed out to a mall thinking she would visit one store because it has been months since she has last been out. She drove out there, saw throngs of people, in which only few were wearing masks, and turned right around and went home.

A hardware store I typically frequent, now feels like a production rather than an experience. My everyday shopping feels like visiting a shop during the holidays with people streaming past one another in crowded areas with no requirement of masks or distancing. Needless to say, I will not be going back. Now, these are just a few examples. Multiply it by thousands. How many customers are you missing out on? These are the silent customers that you will not likely hear from, however they are making themselves known as they drive or walk past your door.

What message is your business sending? It does not matter what side of the political aisle you are on. The visual representation of you and your customers social distancing, wearing masks and wiping hands down with sanitizer says, “I care about you.” It instills confidence in your customers because as consumers or customers we take it to heart if a business we frequent fails to show us they care.

I also recognize that many times customers are coming in who refuse to wear a mask and they can be vocal about it. Again, visualize the silent customers who are passing your business as inspiration and or motivation! There are many, and they want to visit you. You just need to reach them with the right messageand show them you care.

To maintain your business, you need to ensure your customers keep coming back again and again. They need to stay healthy in order to do that and you need to keep your doors open, so help them stay healthy. Seems like a win-win to me. Now, that is a sound customer experience marketing strategy.

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