How to ensure business continuity through COVID-19

In a very short period, COVID-19 has overwhelmed lives and livelihoods around the globe. For vulnerable individuals and the customer teams that serve them, it has also forced a rethinking of what customer service and customer care really stand for. Suddenly, examinations of customer journeys and satisfaction metrics to inform what customers want has given way to an acute urgency to address what they need.

Businesses are at a stand-still and business leaders are evaluating options to keep the sail afloat. Here are 8 immediate steps you need to take as a business leader to ensure business continuity through COVID-19:

Prioritise critical operations

Let’s face it, big or small, every business is being impacted. Organizations have succumbed to the pressure of financial crunch and business continuity is a big question in front of business leaders. Be prepared to change your business practices to maintain critical operations.

Resources are scarce and in times likes these, every resource must be utilised in achieving a single objective – business growth. Re-allocation of resources is one way to do this. For example, while most of your offices are shut and people are working remotely, indirect expenses have substantially reduced. Try re-allocating these resources to critical business operations like customer service and make up for the reduced revenue.

Prepare for reduced man-hours due to various issues

The pandemic is wide-spread and the numbers are only increasing. While we pray and home not, but there is a possibility that your teams may get impacted due to the current conditions. This will have a direct impact on the number of man-hours, resulting in reduced productivity. 

More so, with a country-wide lockdown, remote IT support is the only saviour. Any technical issues beyond software cannot be addressed remotely and require expert services which are unavailable. Again, resulting in reduced man-hours despite the willingness to work. 

Several such cases need to be accounted for and a contingent strategy needs to be deployed in place. One way of doing this is by exploring digital alternatives. For example, the ability to migrate over from a desktop environment to a hand-held environment. 

Customer service and contact-centres are highly impacted business verticals. A digital environment that can help you connect with customers to understand their feedback and close-loop with them from a single dashboard is a great solution to ensure business continuity.

Create a clear communication plan

Everyone is baffled. External or internal, all stakeholders alike. It is therefore important to have a clear, concise and candid communication plan for all the stakeholders.

Internal stakeholders:

Keep them constantly updated with all the changes and transformations being brought about in internal processes. This will help them align their efforts and expectations in line with the business objectives. Be candid about the current situation and constantly keep them updated with the strategic decisions being taken. If possible, provide a buffer. Don’t drop bombs!

External stakeholders:

Be reassuring. Keep them informed about the adaptations in your business and products that will benefit your customers. Be sure that none of your communications are transactional and/or business-oriented. Show that you care for the well-being and safety of your customers. As many major brick-and-mortar brands have used “Repel today, attract tomorrow” in their marketing strategies, if the situation demands, you should too.

Establish and review teleworking policies

Teleworking or Remote working is the new normal! The current pandemic has helped various organizations in setting up a remote-working environment for their employees and business leaders are evaluating the possibility of adopting it as a continued business process.

Call it on-the-go testing, but since almost all of your workforce is working remotely, it is an opportunity for you to optimise these processes. Establish and review your teleworking policies to counter grey areas like project management, data security, performance tracking, communication tools, training and development and so on.

Alternative GTM plans to minimise business impact

Customers’ normal patterns of life have come to a halt. Simple activities like a trip to the grocery store or dining out with friends are now difficult, risky, or even prohibited. Overnight, demand patterns have shifted. Customers need digital, at-home, and low-touch options. Digital-led experiences will continue to grow in popularity once the coronavirus is quelled, and companies that act quickly and innovate in their delivery model to help consumers navigate the pandemic safely and effectively will establish a strong advantage.

Adhere to government mandates

From a 24-hour to a 21-day nation-wide lockdown, government mandates keep changing. As the situations worsen, the restrictions will only become stringent. This means that businesses will see a bigger impact on their businesses and bottom-line figures.

A clear understanding of the government mandates will not only help in finding alternate solutions to business problems but will also save your businesses from being penalised due to non-compliance.

If you are an essential services organization, ensure operation optimisation to utilise minimum resources for front-end business continuity and reallocate all the remaining resources for back-end business continuity. For all other organizations, explore newer, feasible and revenue-generating business models in line with the government mandates.

If a part of the customer journey must exist through a physical channel, consider converting it to contactless operations. For example, leading Grocery chains across the country have kept their physical stores open to shoppers but are adding touchless measures, including new installations of plexiglass “sneeze guards” at every cash register to protect customers and employees.

Plan today for a better tomorrow

Like every other crisis, this will end. More sooner than later. Things, however, will not be the same anymore. The bigger challenge then will be to bring the organization back to its former glory. Despite being in a saturated and highly competitive market, organizations will once again get to benefit from the first-mover advantage. Organizations that move fast, and adapt to needs faster, will recalibrate the market shares, tipping them in their favour.

Keep a real-time pulse on changing customer preferences

Moving fast alone is not beneficial. It is crucial to move in the right direction. While studies predict the market dynamics of the future, there is no certainty that consumer expectations will be in lines with the predictions. The next best alternative is to study the changes as they happen and adapt in real-time.

Traditional customer insights techniques, such as surveys, often have an 18-day to a 6-month lag between launch and results readout. At times when conditions are changing from hour to hour, these delays can be far too long to deliver a useful perspective. Companies should look to quick and novel ways to keep a pulse on consumer sentiment.

Social media on an average has seen a 40% surge in daily activities [Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Twitter combined]. This calls for the need of social listening and sentiment analysis tools like LitmusWorld. By monitoring and listening to social sentiments, coupled with feedback and behavioural data from existing customers can help you predict the trends of tomorrow and ensure business continuity through the difficult times.

 

We at LitmusWorld hope the best for your business and the people driving it. Feel free to reach out to us at www.litmusworld.com/contact-us for any support.

Stay safe. 

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