What happens on the other side of Covid-19? I have asked myself this question for my family, my business and my clients. While I cannot thank those who are working on the front lines in hospitals, or every essential worker, from supermarkets to retail enough, many of us seem to have settled into a routine. A structure where we work from home, school from home, customer support from home while convincing ourselves we will eventually get back to what was normal. But do we really want to?
Hypothetically, if we can never return to complete normalcy, what should we embrace and bring forward? For many businesses, hours are limited or customer volume declined. Others are completely closed. I am not minimizing the impact of having to let employees go or the impact of shutting a business down temporarily, but those that are still open, even on a limited basis, must take time to review all aspects of their business. We need to be open to what was working, what has improved, and what was not working so those efforts are not continued.
Here are a few ideas to help you fully evaluate your business practices during this lockdown so you can easily determine what needs to go and what needs to stay.
What about customer service? During this time while businesses had fewer customers, to interact with, did service improve? Was it due to a more relaxed service process or just the fact that employees had time to execute the process? What could leaders learn and change when customer volume and interaction increase? If customer service is better now, how can this level be maintained in the future? Customer retention will be partially based on the answers to these questions.
What if part of your sales process has been taken away? For some businesses the ability to have the consumer come in for an appointment has been removed. Salespeople who depended on the interaction in the store must now work to provide value through phone, text or email. Many websites are now exposing consumers to online tools where shoppers can complete more of the sales process at home. Will this lead to a different experience in the future when the consumer comes in for an appointment? Going back to previous processes of communicating may not be acceptable anymore if the consumer finds purchasing online to be easier.
What about efficiencies? Success can hide many flaws. Leaders should be looking at how efficient their previous efforts have been. Has there been any waste or lack of accountability to produce expected results? Reviewing processes, costs, staffing and performance during this time will allow businesses to operate more streamlined in the future. Going back to old processes may not be the best strategy for the future. The economic rebound may not be as swift as everyone would like, so efficiency will matter even more in the future.
What about brand messaging? What message will businesses be communicating in the future? If price is not the first thing consumers are thinking about, something else will need to catch their attention. If customer service, care and safety are the focus today, will it continue? Should it? Having a keen vision on how customers are responding to your current marketing efforts will be a key to future success.
Going forward, how will consumers view certain businesses? Local businesses will be the greatest benefactor of the post-quarantine market. Consumers see the impact of this slowdown on neighbors and friends. We have more time to look, listen and see how others may be hurting. Those businesses who demonstrate to customers they are part of the community in which they are located will fare better. Local marketing will matter more than ever.
If leaders take time to review some of these topics, the future holds more efficient and productive interactions for both businesses and consumers. In times of uncertainty or change, we tend to want to run back to what was normal or familiar. In many ways it can seem comforting, but I don’t think going backwards is the answer. Time has slowed down for many of us, leaders included, and it has allowed all of us to see things changing for the better in some cases. Time to pack those strategies up and take them forward. Normal is what you make it.
I wish everyone strength and peace of mind. We will get through this. If I can help in any way let me know.