The pandemic has brought out the very best in people as we unite together to fight the pandemic and support those on the front line. However it’s not been all hearts and flowers. The 2021 Crime Report from ACS indicates that verbal abuse and crime has risen during the pandemic with 89% of colleagues facing abuse. A recent poll by union Usdaw also found that 1 in 10 had experienced physical abuse and 9 in 10, verbal abuse. Customer service is a two way street and shocking behaviour of this kind is unacceptable on so many levels. How can we be better post-pandemic customers and improve our own customer experience in the process?



400 shop workers are abused, threatened or attacked by customers every single day.

There has been a reported 100% increase in assaults at Co-op stores and 175% of verbal abuse over the last year.

In order to combat this, an increasing number of stores are employing security staff as a result. Another strategy is the use of Smart Water to spray offenders and link them back to the crime.

Campaigners in England are lobbying for legislation to protect retail workers similar to the law introduced in January in Scotland whereby offenders face a 12 month prison and a £10,000 fine.

In times like these, it’s more important than ever to be mindful of the feelings of others. We simply don’t know what’s going on behind closed doors. Companies are under more pressure than ever before to get things right but with reduced capacity and pressures way outside of their control, what we need right now is to be better customers not worse.

In many cases, companies are running skeleton operations with limited resources and the mental health of many is hanging in the balance. It’s therefore absolutely essential that we consider things from the other side of the counter in order to deal with current consumer issues effectively and build mutually respectful and supportive relationships going forward.

What this means is not that you forego any of your consumer rights as these remain of paramount importance. However you may need to wait that bit longer at the till or for a refund to be processed. Now more than ever we need to be kind, patient, understanding, polite and proactive not reactive. We’re all in this together and to get through it, we need to work together as one big team.

Rather than just relying on the company to provide us with that WOW factor, let’s turn the tables as post-pandemic customers and see what a difference it makes to our own customer service experience.

  1. Say hello, please and thank you– This is such an obvious thing to do but the most basic manners are often forgotten.
  2. Ask staff how they are and interact with them so they feel valued and appreciated– A few pleasantries cost nothing and can make for a more personal experience if you are remembered on your next visit.
  3. Use social media to praise and champion excellent service rather than just picking up the negatives– We are always very quick to tackle a company if something has gone wrong but not so quick to recognise excellent customer service.
  4. Remember and use the name of whoever is looking after you – Again this can make for a more personal experience. It’s nice to recognise and treat the person serving you as in individual and not just a representative of the company.
  5. Recognise and appreciate service above and beyond the expected –Take the time to complete any appropriate reviews and name any staff members who have stood out in terms of the customer service they delivered. Thanking the staff member personally and making sure you mention their name to whoever is in charge may also ensure that their hard work is recognised and rewarded accordingly. We all need to feel appreciated and that what we do is valued and worthwhile particularly in these uncertain times when we’re at our most vulnerable.

Let’s make kindness, mindfulness and politeness the order of the day on both sides of the counter. Here’s to being better post-pandemic customers in 2021!


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