Now is our time to shine, says Wendy Bartlett

20 April 2021 by
Now is our time to shine, says Wendy Bartlett

We need to show customers what they've been missing over the past few months, says Wendy Bartlett.

If I were prime minister, "due to the impact of Covid" is one phrase I would ban.

I'm completely fed up with people saying this in customer service settings. We've had 18 months to make sure our businesses have adapted to enable us to provide a level of service that our guest and customers don't feel nervous or frustrated by.

Countless businesses and individuals – including contract caterers – have suffered huge losses in terms of jobs and revenue. While there's no denying that the impact of the pandemic has been severe, it's time to adapt and move forward.

Given that hospitality is a service-based industry, one of the most important traits for anyone working within it is to maintain a can-do attitude at work. Keeping these values at the forefront of our minds and remaining focused on the end game is what has allowed us to find solutions in these strange times.

One of the most important traits for anyone working within hospitality is to maintain a can-do attitude at work

While it would be easy for us to bore customers with our struggles, it's a far more productive use of our time to come up with alternatives to solve these problems. After all, the needs of the customer haven't changed – they still want value for money, great service, and a promise delivered.

The ‘work from home' approach has been devastating in our contract catering business, resulting in loss of revenue and jobs. Offices will not be immediately as full as they were. However, the third lockdown has seen a shift in attitudes, with people and businesses looking to go back – people are realising that there are many benefits to getting together. Having a sense of community and a team cannot be achieved virtually. There are lots of opportunities here as people realise our true value.

That extends to the high street, where there also seems to have been a change, with an eagerness to go out – even if it means sitting in the freezing cold, in circumstances we never would have before.

Hospitality is a fantastic example of an industry where managers and their teams have adapted quickly to new ways of servicing the customers. From introducing outdoor dining to altering service to facilitate home deliveries, numerous examples demonstrate the positive impact that good customer service can have.

This adaptability, combined with embracing acts of community and charity, including supporting frontline workers, has allowed our industry to stand out from the crowd.

You get one chance to win the approval of customers – and that's true now more than ever. After a longer than expected hiatus, it's up to us to show them what they've been missing. Returning business leaders in the hospitality industry will be joined by new entrepreneurs who have seen an opportunity where others had difficulties or sadly saw problems.

As we all continue to adapt, mistakes will be made. The important thing is that we can learn from them. Everyone in the chain is rooting for you as a service provider – especially in an industry where there is such a sense of personal care.

The pandemic has further emphasised the importance of community, and I believe there will be a greater level of support as a result.

We all want to see businesses experiencing success post-pandemic, particularly if achieving great customer service is the main aim. Workplaces may not be as full as they were after the previous lockdown, but as increasing numbers of people crave a sense of normality, hospitality has the chance to shine brighter than ever before.

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