Social distancing and the service industry aren’t necessarily two things that appear to align with one another, but we’re at a point where they have to.
The service industry includes food service, but there are many others as well in both hospitality and trade-based industries.
Even in states no longer considered coronavirus hotspots, it seems that many people are still erring on the side of caution and maintaining social distancing as part of their daily lives. That can fly in the face of what service professionals do.
So what is there to know, and what can be done to facilitate social distancing best practices in industries reliant on human contact?
Automate Where You Can
Solving service industry data problems is actually something that can be used for social distancing. For example, you can use the data you already have, and then with the help of AI-powered tools, you can start getting a handle on things like unique service language, user intent, and other details.
You can use both real-time and historical data and take information from your CRM or your emails, call center agent comments, and technician comments.
Consolidate those data points and then start to use them to provide service in a socially distanced way. You can derive actionable data and that may allow service employees to work in a more targeted way while maintaining social distancing protocols.
In hospitality, specifically, there is also a big push for more automation. For example, chatbots are being used in hotels and similar hospitality-based businesses to answer questions customers may have.
For service professionals, the idea of the use of some AI is that they might be able to cut down on how many in-person interactions they have to have, by being able to answer questions or even walk someone through how to fix a problem or troubleshoot from a distance.
Wearables to Monitor Social Distancing
There are a lot of innovative ideas to come out of the pandemic, but some of them are also met with pushback or concerns about privacy.
One area being discussed that might affect the service industry is wearable technology to track social distancing.
One type of technology is called the ultra-wideband, and it delivers distance measurements between devices.
It’s a way to figure how much distance is being maintained between individuals.
There are also conversations surrounding the use of wearables like rings or bracelets that are programmed to let employees know when they’re within six feet of someone else.
The problem with these ideas is that employees may struggle to maintain privacy. For example, the wearables may let their employer know when they’re eating lunch or even using the restroom. Are employees going to be comfortable with that, and is it even legal? That’s something we don’t fully know the scope of at this point.
Social Distancing Consultants
Out of every large-scale event, often completely new roles are created.
That’s certainly the case with coronavirus, and you might hear a term being thrown about in the coming months—social distancing consultant.
This new industry promises that you can work with a professional social distancer.
These professionals will go over CDC and OSHA guidelines, and then research beset practices for your industry.
A social distancing consultant can do everything from helping you redesign your workspace to figuring out the best technology to put in place to keep your employees and customers safe.
Training Other Service Employees
While service employees in the restaurant and hospitality industries have been the main area of focus in social distancing conversations, what about those people who go to people’s homes for repairs and other service calls?
A lot of what employers do to keep them safe is going to rely on training employees, proper PPE provisions, and also sending out guidance to customers ahead of time.
As an employer in the service industry, you need to ensure that households receive communication before a technician’s arrival and upon their arrival as far as social distancing guidelines and the necessary hygiene measures that need to be in place.
Maybe you encourage customers not to be at home during their service call if at all possible.
You may need to recreate your protocols and standards to minimize contact as much as possible, and you should reduce the number of employees sent to a customer’s house at any given time.
Unfortunately, service workers have been in a situation where it’s been challenging to social distance throughout the coronavirus. Unlike many other workers, they haven’t had the opportunity to shelter-in-place and work from home in many cases.
As an employer, combine technology with new ways of thinking to make the job safer for service workers.
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