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Why communicating with customers about cleaning protocols is key during COVID-19

Server cleaning table

As businesses work to stay open in some communities and face the prospect of closing down again in others, it’s important to not only take steps that will keep customers and employees safe but to also clearly communicate those actions to everyone.

Transparency around cleaning, disinfection procedures, and cleaning products can help increase the trust and confidence guests have in a business during the pandemic. To learn more, we turned to the experts at P&G Professional, the away-from-home division of Procter & Gamble.

Q: Why is transparency so important right now? Hasn’t it always been important? 

A: Restaurants and other small businesses have always known that communication with customers and guests is important, but the pandemic has really proven that for everyone. Today, customers are making more discerning choices about where they eat, shop, and stay, so it’s important for restaurants, hotels, and retail shops to establish and build trust with their guests. While so much is out of the small business owner’s control during the pandemic, being consistent in the things they can control—like quality of food, establishing social distancing measures, and enforcing cleaning policies—will help reassure guests that it’s safe to return. 

Q: We understand cleaning and disinfection are important topics for business owners right now due to COVID-19 concerns, but how important are they to customers? 

A: Cleaning and disinfection are very important to customers. Consumers want to know that stores, restaurants, and hotels are clean and safe. In the same survey, cleanliness ranked as the second most important attribute for a diner’s experience behind only the quality and taste of food they were served. More than 70% of diners expect more thorough and frequent cleaning than they did before the pandemic, and 74% want to know how restaurants are cleaned and sanitized. In addition, 57% of travelers expect more transparency—both in-person and on the company website—around what hotels are doing to keep guests safe and rooms clean. Guests expect to see visible signs of cleaning, such as seals on rooms, placards, employee-initiated checklists, and even seeing the staff physically cleaning. 

Communicating these efforts upfront with website banners, stickers on entry doors, and posters around your business can help customers be confident in your cleanliness.

Q: What else is important for businesses to keep in mind during COVID-19? 

A: There are a couple of things businesses should do, or continue doing, during the pandemic. First, increase the frequency that you clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces like door handles, counters, and tabletops, and use a disinfectant that is approved by the EPA for use against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the illness COVID-19.

Make it easy for customers to follow social distancing guidelines with visuals that mark proper distances, add hand sanitizer stations around your business for guests and employees, and display signs that convey what you’re doing—and the cleaners you’re using—to help keep guests safe. Visual communication will be key to helping your guests trust you as they venture out of their homes.

It’s also important that businesses adhere to state and local guidelines or restrictions during COVID-19 and follow the guidelines established by the CDC. Adding signage in-store and online to show the cleaning products you’re using can also help build trust with customers, especially if your business is using cleaning brands that customers are already familiar with.

Q: Why is it important to use cleaning products with familiar brand names? 

A: When consumers have personal experience with a cleaning product, they know how it works and can trust the results, so seeing these products used in a business setting can help put them at ease and instill confidence that your space is clean and safe. For example, in a recent survey of frequent travelers and diners, we found that 70% of travelers and nearly 60% of diners said they would patronize a hospitality or food service establishment if they knew the business was using a manufacturer or brand of cleaning products they personally knew and trusted. In addition, more than half (55%) of travelers would be willing to pay more for a hotel room and one in three diners would be willing to pay more for a meal if they knew the business was using a personally recognizable and trusted brand of cleaning products.

In addition, familiar cleaning brands can be easier for employees to use correctly, which can help save time and labor costs even with increased cleaning frequency.

Q: What are key takeaways for small businesses right now? 

A: There is a lot of information out there and we are all learning in real time how to navigate COVID-19. The best thing small businesses can do is to put procedures in place now so that their employees and business are prepared to manage these increased risks. This includes not only cleaning and disinfection protocols and standards, but also policies surrounding the use of masks and gloves, social distancing standards, and making sure everyone is doing what they should to help mitigate risks.  

Be transparent with your customers about your cleaning and disinfection procedures. Use recognizable brands when cleaning—like Microban 24, Safeguard, and Spic and Span—and tell your customers about your efforts both in-store and online. Remember, communication is key so customers feel confident and safe when patronizing your establishment.

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The information above is provided for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice and may not be suitable for your circumstances. Unless stated otherwise, references to third-party links, services, or products do not constitute endorsement by Yelp.