Three days ago, California had its opening day. With an incredibly low Covid case rate, the state’s tier system was lifted, masks were no longer required for vaccinated individuals, and businesses could operate at capacity.
It seemed like the day we had all been waiting for, but something was eerily missing… change.
I made a trip to the local grocery store that day to pick up a few things I had forgotten over the weekend. As I prepared to get out of the car, I pulled on my mask and sanitized my hands. By the looks of it, every customer in the store did the same, even though it was very clearly communicated via signage and social media that customers could leave the masks behind.
As hard as it was to get used to physical distancing, wearing masks, and taking food from our favorite restaurants, we all acclimated over time (over time being the key words). After all, it can take 18 to 254 days for a person to form a habit, and 66 days for it to become automatic. We can’t expect people to suddenly abandon habits that took nearly three-quarters of the pandemic to form… especially since those habits bring with them a certain degree of comfort.
I personally believe that we are at a point of opportunity for businesses to hold onto some of the positive change they created. Especially while customers are still used to pandemic precautions, it’s a great time for business owners to think about what they will keep and what they will leave.
One independently-owned toy store in the town where I live started making Easter baskets for kids during the pandemic. To purchase, parents simply had to let the store owner know their budget and their child’s general interests. Then, just like that, a basket arrived on your doorstep in time for Easter, all wrapped up. They’ve done this for two years now and have become known for it. I hope they keep it.
Another example is the QR codes we’ve all been using at restaurants. Customers are used to them now… so why not encourage more people to make positive reviews by using them (you could even offer an incentive)? Why not use them to get opt-ins to your email list? Maybe you tried five years ago and it didn’t work, but today could be a whole different story.
Bottom line: We are now living in a world where customers have become used to (and proficient at) a seamless transition between online and in-person interaction. It is critical for businesses to think how they can use that to generate revenue… don’t give your customers 18-254 days to BREAK the habits they’ve formed if you don’t want them to.
What will you keep? What will you leave? What will you try? I am eager to hear about it… let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.