It’s quite clear by now that the way that we conducted business before Covid-19 is about to fundamentally change post the pandemic.
Smart companies will adopt a proactive approach to understand what changes will occur and be ready to adjust their products, services and strategies quickly to meet current and future customer needs. Others will stand still, expecting to pick up where they left off.
By addressing the business challenges presented by the pandemic, companies can only benefit by aligning themselves in the best way possible to deal with the unexpected going forward and be in good shape to capitalise on the opportunities presented.
Here are some changes that might occur:
- Meetings, conferences & events will go virtual
Global catastrophes tend to bring everything into focus. Much like 9/11 proved to the world that terrorism doesn’t just happen in distant lands, and the 2008 economic crisis showed that even the richest amongst us weren’t invincible, COVID-19 is once again making us think twice – but this time, we’re wary of each other and concerned for our health and wellbeing.
This has resulted in us embracing technology more than ever and make us look at interaction in a different way – for example, instead of asking “can we meet in person?” we might soon be asking “can we do this online?”.
With video conferencing tools such as Teams and Zoom (which has reported a massive 535% rise in daily traffic in the past month) becoming increasingly popular, it’s likely that these will become a dominant practice in the post-COVID-19 office. The pandemic has shown us that business meetings, conference calls and even large events – including virtual exhibitions – can all be done online successfully, which is not only more convenient for many people, but it could be more cost-effective.
- Working from home will be a realistic option
Arguably the biggest change for many businesses is that they are now running (in part or in full) operations from the comfort of their own homes. While this has been undeniably challenging, numerous businesses can see the benefits of working from home in the future, once the current situation de-escalates.
For many businesses, this has opened up a whole new opportunity they never would have realised otherwise. Allowing employees to work at home can increase productivity, and employees feel happier and more valued when they have the chance to work wherever they feel comfortable, which in turn has numerous positive benefits for business.
- Companies will embrace emerging technology
While working from home has been a breath of fresh air for some, it’s been difficult to adapt to for others. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought many businesses face to face with technology issues.
As most companies operate in a way that means employees rarely have to work outside of the office, many of them do not have the technology necessary to work remotely successfully. Outdated systems, along with slow broadband, are causing computers to crash, become sluggish down and frustrate employees.
- Content will remain ‘king’
Right now, many businesses are struggling to sell their products or services, so their focus is on slowly informing and educating their customers, hoping for a purchase further down the line. This will undoubtedly change the way businesses market themselves to their customers, as many are striving to become thought leaders and experts in their industry during this time – while people, stuck at home, are craving new content to engage with. Without investing in developing quality content now, businesses will risk losing out on opportunities in the future.
- Marketing will become more important than ever
Once the pandemic loosens its grip on the UK and its markets, it’s clear that marketing will be essential to getting businesses back on track. Businesses continuing to invest in their marketing will see their current customers stay loyal and attract new ones.
Furthermore, as we slowly exit lock-down, sales will be engaged, however with social distancing, fears, a certain amount of reticence and loss of confidence, it will be quite some time before they are back at full speed.
As a result, marketing will have to adopt a much more sales-oriented approach to capture the interest of the client as per the marketing landscape graphic below.
Some pointers on getting your business ready for the post COVID-19 era
Assemble your management team and consult them on what they have been hearing from customers. Arrange a meeting to identify what might be changing. What you don’t know about the likely ‘changes’ will set the stage for the next step.
- Gather insight
Develop a plan to ‘take the temperature’ of the marketplace. How can we validate new behaviours we are seeing and hearing, and gather the important insights that we don’t know? Don’t assume anything. Your customers can tell you what they will need, but you must ask them.
In this time of rapid change, it’s critical to conduct customer interviews, surveys, market research or when interacting with customers during this difficult period, train your people to open conversations with, “How can we help you get through this?” and “What’s important to you?” not, “Here’s what we’ve got.” In other words, lead with empathy not competence. Try to be part of the solution to their crisis.
With 2020 plans already made, the large scale interruption caused by COVID-19 will require forward-thinking, new strategies and re-planning on many fronts. Armed with new insights from the marketplace, businesses should look to re-plan and prioritise strategies and tactics in all critical areas. This should include manufacturing/operations, sales, HR, marketing, NPD/innovation, customer service and other key areas.
Understanding what your customers will value in the post COVID-19 business world and acting on it will ensure your survival and success and put you ahead of major competitors. Knowing the customer will sort the post-pandemic winners from losers and also-rans.
It’s also important to note that customers buy VALUE, and value comes from meeting their needs, which comes from understanding their needs, in their words and actions. Focus on providing Value, and Revenue and Profit will take care of itself.
How will your business address the post COVID-19 era?
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