How Enterprises Should Prepare for the Next Normal Post COVID-19
COVID-19 has changed the way companies operate. Forecasts and predictive models created by enterprises at the start of the year have been rendered ineffective. Companies are forced to allow remote work, supply chains have been disrupted, sales have declined, and consumer needs have shifted drastically.
However, these challenges are not limited till the time coronavirus lasts. As things start getting normal, customer behavior would have changed permanently.
Enterprises need to prepare for the next normal post-COVID-19 to grow and ensure the smooth running of their business.
Here are some ways for enterprises to prepare themselves for the post-COVID-19 era.
1. Develop a Relaunch Map
COVID-19 has shattered forecasts and data-driven research that enterprises use for decision making. It is crucial to create a relaunch map that guides production, supply chain, marketing & sales efforts, and help determine the recovery time for each aspect of your business.
Here are some great ways to develop a relaunch map:
- Begin with analyzing the most relevant regions for your business, the ones that represent your biggest markets. Determine how COVID-19 has impacted your business in those particular neighborhoods.
- Evaluate which areas are likely to return in some way sooner than others. Consider government guidelines in those countries and states when ascertaining an expected restart schedule.
- Look at the economic side of those areas to understand how your future customers may have been affected, which will influence their willingness to spend. For example, late payments, an increase in unemployment, or volatility indices.
- Check what the government is doing to help recover the economy. This will allow you to create a relaunch plan now rather than waiting for things to go back to normal.
- Create a team that includes members from different departments: sales, marketing, and customer support. They would be responsible for determining how consumer behavior is changing and discover what lies ahead.
- Communicate with your suppliers to find how soon they can begin production and distribution.
2. Eliminate Unnecessary Expenses
What follows post-COVID-19 is a period of unpredictable and possibly muted economic recovery. According to McKinsey, 40-50% of discretionary spending might not occur over the next few months.
Therefore, it is crucial to eliminate unnecessary expenses to maximize your profits.
The biggest area of expenses in larger companies is tech products. A 2016 report indicates that the US organizations wasted $30 billion on unused software.
Audit your tech stack to determine which technologies or tools you have purchased that you actually don’t need or use actively. Rank each software in five categories:
- Must have
- Nice to have
- Efficiency driver
- Least used
- It’s ok not to have it
Then, eliminate the “least used” and “it’s ok not to have it” ones. Additionally, look for solutions that can replace multiple technologies. For example, if you are using two software for email marketing and marketing automation, find tools that offer both in one.
If you rely on paid advertising to drive traffic to your enterprise website and increase sales, focus on making SEO a priority. Additionally, forecast how effective your digital marketing strategy is and eliminate the tactics that aren’t bringing good results.
This way, you will be able to reduce your marketing costs and still promote your business online.
3. Analyze Your Digital Shoppers’ Behavior and Capitalize on It
COVID-19 has changed how and what consumers buy. Determine how your target audience is behaving during these times to predict what might happen in the coming months.
Here are some ways to analyze your digital shoppers’ behavior:
Conduct market research to determine how your target audience has been affected by COVID-19. This should also help you understand they were shopping before coronavirus, are purchasing now, and will buy in the future.
Invest in AI tools to analyze customer behaviors and changes in trends. Your entire PR strategy needs to be revamped leveraging artificial intelligence.
Monitor your website traffic to see if there’s an increase in it. Analyze which pages a lot of customers are visiting and the products they are buying. This will help you adjust your primary navigation and homepage to provide a better experience to your site visitors.
Check if there’s an increase in conversion rate or cart abandonment despite receiving enough traffic. If yes, it likely means your customers need more reassurance from you before investing in your products.
4. Build Connections With Your Target Audience
More than 75% of consumers have experimented with different shopping behavior, including trying new brands and places to shop. Buyers that switched stores said online advertising and social channels were the key places to find out about new places to shop.
The number indicates how important it is to build connections with your customers and target audience. If not, you will see a decline in sales in the coming months.
Here are some ways to build connections with your target audience online:
- Treat each customer as an individual and send personalized emails to leave an impact in their mind.
- Engage with your customers on social media. Post updates related to your business. Respond to comments and mentions of your brand.
- Help your customers make the most of your product even before they ask for it. For example, Samsung Mobile US posts helpful guides from their Twitter handle to provide useful resources to their customers.
- Use AI to create and elevate a multichannel marketing strategy to provide customers a seamless experience across platforms.
- When interacting with customers virtually (via email, call, or social media), make sure to share positivity throughout the conversation.
- Use customer relationship management tools to track client’s activities, analyze their behavior, and offer a seamless experience.
- Support the community during coronavirus as per your capability. Large enterprises, including Starbucks, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Cisco, are giving back to the community during COVID-19. No matter how big or small your act of goodwill is, it will shape how people feel about your brand.
5. Facilitate Cross-Functional Collaborations
Facilitating cross-functional workflows helps you ensure your enterprise is more agile, flexible, and comfortable conducting experiments. This, in turn, enables your enterprise to discover characteristics that are important mid-crisis and will remain crucial post-coronavirus.
Cross-functional collaboration refers to creating a team of people with different expertise working toward the same goal.
For example, you can create a team responsible for providing a seamless customer experience to a specific segment. That team might consist of a designer, a product manager, a marketer, a sales expert, and a developer.
Cross-functional collaboration can facilitate a customer-first mindset by enabling your employees from different departments to enhance your products, services, and customer experience.
6. Give Priority to Your Employees
Employees are the biggest asset for every organization. If they are happy and satisfied, you will be able to prepare for everything effectively. However, 64% of the global workforce is facing high anxiety over their job security.
Make sure to address your employees’ immediate needs to create a productive and rewarding working environment in the long run.
Here are some tips to demonstrate care for your employees:
- Proactively seek feedback from your employees.
- Offer mental health supports and create wellbeing programs to help employees manage stress during this time of crisis.
- Identify your most vulnerable employees, such as contract workers, people with disabilities, single parents, or those who lack adequate health benefits. Create new support programs for them.
- Reassure your employees that you are with them during the time of crisis.
That way, you will be able to make your employees happy and stress-free, enabling them to give the best to your organization during and after COVID-19.
COVID-19 has disrupted the usual business operations. It has also changed consumer behavior to an extent. Companies need to prepare themselves for the next normal post-COVID-19 to stay competitive in the market. Follow the strategies discussed in the article to deal with the challenges of the restart.