The Covid-19 pandemic has affected life in every way possible – professionally and personally. No-one knows how long the effect of the pandemic will last and most importantly how long the economy will take to recover.
It’s worrying times of course it is, but the first thing I have tried to do, and tried to help others to do is to see the good in the bad. As they say every cloud has a silver lining – and that silver lining is opportunity, so as business leaders we have to be positive.
In the discussions I am having with business owners over the past few weeks, they seem to fall in to 2 distinct groups…
Firstly, are those that appear to be in denial – These are the ones who believe that we just need to “ride it out” and then we can “get back to normal” and trade as we did before.
Then there’s the dynamic camp, and their focus is on what can they learn, what do they need to tweak, change or pivot within their business to ensure that they don’t just survive but they thrive in the future.
In our recent leader’s survey completed by over 100 business leaders 45% said that despite having less work now, they believed that they would emerge as “a much stronger business”. 75% of these leaders said that they were making plans for the new future.
So, in this article I wanted to share my views on what I think is important for businesses owners to be thinking about right now, in the coming weeks and in the short-term future.
ARE YOU COMMUNICATING?
Now more than ever people are feeling bewildered, afraid, uninformed and are looking for trusted advice and support.
This creates an opportunity for businesses to reach out as long as it’s done in the right way, with empathy, and from a place of caring. It probably won’t be expected and so it becomes your opportunity to surprise and delight your customers at the same time. Simply picking up the phone and asking how they are is a great place to start. Contact made at this time of heightened emotion done in the right way will be remembered positively long after the crisis is over.
So, think for a moment about how you are communicating with your customers right NOW and what is the perception of your business at this time? Are you keeping the lines of communication open? Building on relationships by reaching out to show we care using empathy?
If you are, well done, if not, what can you do differently?
DO YOU NEED TO CHANGE?
Is your business the same now as it was 7 or 8 weeks ago? Have you looked at what needs to change right now in your messaging to customers/suppliers etc?
Take your website for example – What is it saying about your business right now? With more and more people going online than ever before, your website is now a critical part of your business. We recently reviewed 85 websites in the legal sector and 19% had no Covid-19 messaging and did not make it clear if they were even trading.
Think about the tone of your messaging and your website. Of the 85 websites we reviewed only 36% displayed empathy in their messaging, and our researcher shows that empathy is a key differentiator right now.
The 36% of firms that displayed empathy returned a Net Promoter score of +50 (very good) versus the average of -37 (needs improvement)
So, think about what you might need to change in your business, it might be as simple as automated messages to create the right perception and to set the expectation – Can you meet the same call back rates as usual? If you normally say you will respond within an hours is that realistic still now with half your workforce furloughed?
LOOKING AHEAD – WHY WILL YOUR CUSTOMERS RETURN TO YOU?
Hopefully we all know that we are not going to be going back to “normal”. What we know as normal when it comes to customer behaviour has changed and it is likely to be that way for some time, so we can’t just continue as we were before and expect that our customers will just return again when we re-open our doors.
I would encourage you to consider what things you might need to tweak/revise or perhaps even pivot within your business to ensure you are maximising your opportunities in the future.
When undertaking this type of activity, most businesses do it from their own perspective. However, this should really be done looking through the lens of the customer and putting them at the heart of it. – This is called Customer Journey Mapping.
Customer Journey Mapping involves walking in your customers shoes to properly understand, challenge and improve the experience they have with your business.
So, when doing Customer Journey mapping or making changes in your business, what should you consider?
Whenever I’m talking to the businesses, we partner there are 3 key things that must be considered…
1). The voice of the process
Is your operational process water tight? Has it been tested and you’ve got the insight to make sure that customers can access your products and services in a simple slick and easy to use process (think AMAZON) – Has this been reviewed for the new world?
2). The Voice of the employee
Do your team understand what the new processes and procedures might be? Are they well trained? Do they understand the importance of the process being followed and the negative impact it could have on the customer if it isn’t followed. If they don’t then you have worked hard all the way through this difficult time to keep customers engaged and then it could fail because you haven’t communicated well with your team. This results in them giving a poor experience which results in the customer going elsewhere.
3). The voice of the customer
This part is really important and is often overlooked, and very rarely done properly. It’s obviously really important that the customer feels great about interacting with your brand and the only way you are going to know if they are is to ask them.
Many businesses judge this part on growth or financial performance “well the customers must be happy as we’re growing” but very few actually ask.
By asking your customers how you are doing you don’t just get the feedback, you make the customer feel even more important and give an even greater perception of being a customer focussed business. The positive feedback you receive will also generate great content for testimonials, case studies and online reviews.
So, always get feedback from your customers, if you don’t, you’ll assume that everything is all right and we all know that assume makes an ass out of u & me!
In closing I would urge anyone unsure of what to do at the present time, to remember Charles Darwin….
“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”
If you would like to discuss your re-opening strategy, talk about gathering insights and feedback to help you thrive, or anything else mentioned in this article, please do get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org or via 07710394729