What practices do businesses and business owners need to know in order to reopen safely?

The Fort Worth Chamber hosted Judy Gaman, Dallas-Fort Worth CEO of Executive Medicine of Texas, to discuss employees’ and customers’ emotional needs and fears, continuing to give good customer service while prioritizing safety, testing employees, and how business owners should move forward with open eyes.

Watch the full webinar here.

Understanding the four Emotional Needs

Gaman addresses the four basic emotional needs of employees and customers, which are especially heightened during the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • Self-Actualization: A person’s desire to reach their highest potential.
  • Love and Belonging: Friendship, family, and a sense of connection.
  • Safety: Personal security, employment, resources, and health.
  • Physiological needs: Air, water, food, shelter.

There are such high emotions right now, says Gaman, that people are not even thinking of what they are saying, about their actions, or about their online presence. They’re saying and doing things online and in person that they’d normally never entertain.

Giving Good Customer Service

According to Gaman, good customer service meets all of the emotional needs, outside of self-actualization, and she insists that businesses still have to give that feeling of love and belonging, to make customers feel appreciated.

She identifies the two types of customers during COVID-19: the cautious customer and the customer going about their errands as normal.

“We cannot forget as owners that we need both of these people as our customers, we cannot offend them, and we need to find out how to meet their needs without judging and without making one feel bad over another.”

Businesses should make customers feel protected, Gaman adds, with printed guidelines and by offering optional masks; she advises medical practices that require masks to let their customers know ahead of time in order to lower the emotions behind wearing a mask. Regardless of customer preference, she recommends that employees wear masks and that they become adept at understanding emotional cues from more cautious customers.

Should businesses test employees?

COVID-19’s cycle is exposure → viral → recovery → antibody.

To Gaman, there’s no right or wrong answer regarding testing. If businesses plan on providing testing, she believes that it makes more sense to give IgG (Immunoglobulin) tests to employees for antibodies, and reminds business owners that exposed employees’ tests can result in false negatives.

Eyes Wide Open

“This is not a conversation about safety or profit,” states Gaman. “We are going to keep people safe, but not be afraid to open our business and make a profit.”

She also adds that the best defense is a strong immune system, and one of the biggest immune system killers is stress.

“Go into this wide open and say what can I do? Take precautions, and know that you’re doing the best that you can do.”

Being on the “front lines”

Gaman says it’s been interesting and challenging for healthcare institutions over the last few months. People look to places like Executive Medicine to answer questions about COVID-19, as new information comes out and different advice circulates.

“Most conversations are strengthening immune systems, and we’ve all been learning together what is or isn’t necessary. It’s been an interesting dynamic for healthcare providers. The focus will end up being wellness and prevention, which is where it should have been overall.”

Silver Linings

There are several silver linings that have come out of this time, according to Gaman. She has seen people improve their lives, primarily by strengthening and spending more time with their families.

“We learned how to live together, how to look out for one another. Socialization is so important to longevity and health, but people really remembered what’s important and what’s the best thing for our families.”

Leaders Online, an alternative to in-person programming, was created to assist Fort Worth Chamber members with obstacles related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Leaders Online features industry experts via virtual livestreams to answer questions and guide local employers in situations they’re likely not familiar with, associated with COVID-19. For a complete list of upcoming virtual events, click here.