· 2 min read
NSF’s Paul Medeiros recently joined the syndicated program The List to talk about COVID-19 assurance programs, and what customers should look for when they see a COVID sticker on the front door.
Here are the top four questions to consider:
There are several things to look for on the sticker to understand its credibility. For example, does it have a QR code or URL that links to a website that contains the program requirements? Credible programs will allow you to find out more about the company that issued the independent verification. A QR code or link to the specific assurance program that certified the business demonstrates transparency – and the absence of that information could be cause for skepticism. Transparency is a good indicator of rigor, especially if the website includes the criteria that a business went through to achieve its sticker.
Once you are able to find the criteria for the program, the next thing to check is whether the verification is ongoing, or if it was just a one-time event. Some programs focus on the activities that need to be done to earn a sticker, while others focus on the underlying systems that keep a business safer, day in and day out, and continue to evolve as the situation evolves.
While COVID numbers are improving and vaccines are being administered, we have seen surges in the past, and new variants will keep emerging – so it is still important to know the COVID assurance program is tracking that moving target. The protocols, rules and procedures that are put in place on day one are not necessarily going to be adequate on day 50 or day 100. As we learn more about the science, it is key to adjust protocols. Additionally, staff training should be ongoing, because employees can get pandemic fatigue and keeping training and protocols fresh helps improve compliance.
More importantly, businesses need to learn from their employees, since they are the ones who give management the best feedback to improve the systems. Their “boots on the ground” experience matters.
The most straightforward option is to simply ask about the sticker. Asking employees what they went through to earn the sticker can be telling, because if they appear unsure it could mean that training and protocols were not very robust and that the training session did not make a lasting impression. On the other hand, if the employee is well aware of the process, protocols in place, training, rigor of the operations and what that means for customers – those are positive signs.
Additionally, find out from a manager whether the program was crafted specifically for that business or industry. A one-size-fits-all approach cannot identify every proximity point and common touch point is the same across different situations, and a customized approach that addresses the unique aspects of individual businesses is key for a robust program.