Your Business Needs To Prepare Its ‘Middle Seat’ Policy

Kathryn Stevenson Blog

It doesn’t matter what sector you work in at the moment, every business across the UK and Ireland needs to consider how it will approach its operations and communications in the era of Covid-19.

When EasyJet revealed its plans to leave the middle seats on its aircrafts free when it returns to flying after the lock down, it was sending a clear message that it was working hard to implement government guidelines on social distancing in a way which would reassure its customers of their safety.  

While the science suggests it might not do much, it is a big gesture that shows they are committed to taking action.

EasyJet chief executive Johan Lundgren expects the seating measure will encourage more people to fly saying “I think that is something that the customers would like to see”.

Ultimately, that will be the key to the successful futures of many businesses – what is it that your customers and your employees would like to see implemented to keep them with you?

Health and safety will be the focus for the foreseeable future and any business which is deemed to be doing less in the eyes of their employees or their customers could face the wrath of the media and social media.

You don’t just need to get your new measures right, you will also need to make sure that they are then communicated effectively and efficiently to your workforce and to your consumers.

So what have we learned so far about Middle Seat Policies?

  • LONG TERM REPUTATION – These measures aren’t just about protecting your employees and customers health and safety, they are about protecting the long term reputation of your brand. These are all priceless assets and are therefore worth investing in. It is better to be seen to do too much rather than too little.
  • PILOT SCHEMES ARE IN – Consumers are reacting well to test periods and pilot schemes. We have seen McDonalds taking a phased approach to the reopening of its restaurants across the UK and Ireland, and they are doing it in a way which allows them time to trial new measures before rolling them out across all stores for delivery and Drive-Thru options. This shows a responsible approach which puts health and safety before profit.  
  • SERVICE LEVEL REDUCTIONS – Many restaurants have been fast to say that service won’t be as quick as it usually is, you have to advance order, they are using reduced and limited menu options and focusing only on the aspects of the businesses which can be done safely. Consumers don’t expect to see you back at full steam and they would rather see smart changes being made than a ‘business as usual at all costs’ approach.
  • YOUR CONSUMERS WILL ADAPT WITH YOU – This is a time for change and learning, not only for businesses but for consumers as well. We all know that what stands with a business one week may not still be the case a week from now, so it is important to keep your platforms up to date so that your consumers can change with you. People are prepared for those changes.
  • DON’T CRITICISE YOUR COMPETITORS –  This is a time for businesses to be seen to be acting in a way which is responsible, community orientated and supportive. To openly critique the safety measures implemented by your competitors will only stand to tarnish your own reputation. This is a challenging and evolving situation for all companies, with new lessons being learned daily. 
  • COMMUNICATION IS KEY – If you are making positive and proactive changes you firstly need to make sure that your employees are up to speed and practicing business in line with these changes. Secondly you should tell your customers, because they want to know. Make videos for social media, create news stories where appropriate and tell your audiences what you are doing.
  • KEEP ON TOP OF NEW REQUIREMENTS – Things will change and what is required of you this week may be something new next week, so be prepared to adapt and review as you go along. Set up the mechanisms and alerts to make sure that you know what is being requested of your industry at that time, and if you can try to stay ahead of the pack with your own innovations.

If you are putting in place your Middle Seat policies and would like to discuss how to communicate these with your team and your customers please contact rebecca@mcepublicrelations.com.

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