How Restaurants are Gaining Trust With Customers During Covid-19 Restaurants need to establish trust with their customers as the Covid-19 pandemic led lockdowns have completely changed the way people dine-in in restaurants.

By Vidhi Bubna

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With COVID-19 restrictions easing, restaurants are starting physical operations again. However, even as lockdown restrictions ease, data shows that people are still opting for ordering in than going to restaurants.

In such a case, restaurants need to establish a considerable amount of trust with their customers as the pandemic led lockdowns have completely changed the way people dine-in in restaurants.

Restaurants that Entrepreneur India spoke to share the many strategies they are deploying to build trust with customers regarding hygiene and safety.

Ensuring Extra Safety of Their Staff

The safety of the customers depends on the safety of the staff working at restaurants during the pandemic.

Emily's in Mussoorie is making sure that the staff at the property is safe. It is one of the only restaurants where customers are asked to dispose of their own tissues in paper bags placed on the table. The food joint has ensured that the staff at the property does not come in contact with the tissues of customers. Hence, they have gone the extra mile to not just care about customers but also their staff, which depicts overall hygiene and safety during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We take extra care of the staff so that the customers feel safer. We are observing a shift in the restaurant industry now. Customers want to ensure that the staff they are in contact with is completely safe," said Vidur Kapur, General Manager at Rokeby Manor, parent hotel of Emily's.

"At Rokeby Manor, we care about our staff as much as our guests and this has helped us to build more trust with our guests."

Parul Pratap, head chef at Music and Mountains Cafe, Delhi shares a similar insight. "We've provided staff quarters to our workers and part of the team is staying at our premises. This is done to ensure that the staff and guests are both safe."

Even if it means additional costs for the restaurants, they are going the extra mile to ensure safety of their staff as the customers directly interact with them.

Changed Seating Arrangements at the Restaurants

Since the government has released a mandate for restaurants to have seating 6 feet apart, most restaurants are revamping their seating arrangements.

Dragonfly in Delhi has even launched an entirely new design with private pods, where customers can enter private, distanced pods in groups of 5 and party.

Pratap of Music and Mountains Cafe says "We have halved the number of tables at the restaurant and have increased spacing between them to follow COVID-19 safety norms. Following mandates given the government can play a role in making customers feel safe. Most customers who visit the restaurant are likely to know about the government regulations for the industry. The best way to make them feel safe is to follow the norms."

All the seats are also cleaned after each guest leaves and hypochlorite sanitation is done for each table.

No More Menus on the Table, QR Codes Save the Day

To reduce physical contact between the staff and guests, many restaurants are opting out of placing physical menus on each table. Technology is playing a role in following this as more and more restaurants are opting for digital menu cards and order placing mechanism.

Many restaurants in Mumbai have also opted for QR codes. Krishna Gupta, Managing Director of 1441 Pizzeria says "We are using QR codes to limit interactions between staff and guests. QR codes are used not only to place orders from the menu, but also for customers who want to use the code to pay."

QR codes and innovative contactless menus make the customer realise that times are not the same as before and the restaurant has innovated to meet customer needs based on current times. When the customer notices that the restaurant has innovated to ensure contactless delivery to their table, it makes them feel more comfortable and establishes trust.

Others have come up with other innovative measures that do not include tech.

"We have one menu card which has been pinned to the board so that our guests can see it and place their order. We like to preserve the feeling of mountains and less technology, so we opted for an innovative way to reduce contact," says Kapur of Rokeby Manor owned Emily's.

The Power of Regulation Notices Should not be Underestimated

Many restaurants have placed an easel stand highlighting regulations which need to be maintained while dining. Masks are mandatory while entering the restaurants and sanitisers are placed on each table to reassure customers about safety. The COVID-19 protocols clearly stated by restaurants right at the entry play an important role in making customers more confident about safety.

These notices play a role in showing the customer that the restaurant is serious about maintaining social distancing and following government mandated norms.

Gupta says "We have an easel outside each 1441 outlet highlighting norms which needs to be maintained in the restaurant and our safety precautions. This helps us to earn the trust of our staff as well as customers because it is in both their benefit to maintain limited contact and hygiene."

Placing a notice at the restaurant acts as an initial point of trust between the restaurant and the customer.

To build more trust with customers, restaurants are innovating creatively with the times.

Vidhi Bubna

Freelance Writer

Vidhi Bubna is a freelance journalist from Mumbai who writes about a wide variety of topics. She starts every morning reading current affairs and likes to keep up with new trends worldwide. She is also a trekking enthusiast and hopes to move to the Himalayas someday. 

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