While we are all slowly adjusting to this new world order — stay at home, restricted movement and social distancing, there are 2 questions that are playing in most of our minds
1. How long will this continue?
2. When this ends, what to expect?
I am no expert to answer the first question, probably no one is — this is completely unchartered territory for the entire world population and only thing we all can do is follow guidelines issued by our respective governments and hope and pray that this gets over and behind us soon while rooting relentlessly for our health-care warriors.
For the second question, below are some of my learnings from my conversations with several of my clients in the last couple of weeks. These conversations were all about finding from global business leaders how they see the new world post Covid, and what would be their short term & mid term priorites as they try and bring their businesses back up and running post the lock-down.
1. It’s time to be human first: During crisis situations, characters are not developed. Characters are revealed! This is true for not just individuals but also for businesses. Covid-19 clearly has segregated businesses into two — One are the businesses who are looking at commercializing the crisis and still trying to gain out of people’s misery. Think of all the “for free” emails that would have flooded your inbox in the last couple of weeks trying to sell their product offering to you while you are busy thinking how to adopt and adjust to this new world. The second are those, who genuinely care for their customers and their people and every bit of their communication and their behavior radiates that single message — ‘we care’. In the new world, it is only the latter group that will survive and thrive. Your customers, your employees, your suppliers and your partners are people first and your ability to treat every transaction as a relationship between two humans where both sides matter will define the course of your business.
2. It’s a PAUSE, not a Down-turn: Renowned economists and financial pundits have already started talking about how and why we are probably staring at an economic downturn of an un-precedented magnitude. It is dampening to read such views and when you start thinking what that might mean for you as an individual and as a business, it gets scary. But here is the silver lining. World is at a pause, world is not in a down-turn! Atleast as of now! What happens when you pause a video and press ‘replay’ after a while? It starts playing from exactly where you had paused. My learning is that yes, it will take time and effort to recover economy wise, but it will happen much quicker than what we think. I would like to believe that the world, in its current state, is like a rubber band and the elastic potential energy it is withholding in itself in this stretched (read ‘lockdown’) condition will just unleash itself as soon as things get better on the health hazard front. Off-course there will be hardships, off-course it will call for new norms of running businesses but it will spring back and It will spring back sooner than what we think.
3. BCP gets a new definition and Disaster recovery planning assumes a new dimension: BCP or Business continuity planning as we all refer to, assumes a whole new meaning and dimension in the post Covid era. Every business has a BCP (or atleast that’s what they would like to believe) but Covid-19 just showed us a completely unseen terrain when it comes to definition of what a disaster means. Typically BCP plans assume a short term disruption that is confined to a certain locality or region and we humans plan for recovery against that backdrop. But how do you recover when the disruption affects every single country in this planet and for a time duration that no one can predict for how long? Every business CXO I interacted with agreed that this calls for new ways of thinking and the post-Covid BCP plans would likely look drastically different from the ones pre-Covid.
4. Rethinking and Redesigning everything: Everything you do as a business needs to change. How you design your products, how you manufacture/procure and distribute, how you sell, how you service your customers, how you market.. everything. Innovation can no longer mean a small corner team sitting somewhere and doing something remotely. Neither can it be just a metric or a KPI published in the CEO’s dashboard and the annual report. Innovation will mean existence. Innovation will signify survival. A prior Harvard study reveals that 70% of innovation comes from outside the company, any company, and if that is true, businesses will need to focus outside their organization in a much broader scale that what they do today. This is good news for Start-ups and I for once, am tremendously hopeful about what the new world could mean for start-ups. My clients tell me that corporate ventures will get hyper-active in the months to come and we, startups, need to be ready to embrace this new wave of opportunity.
5. Building customer relationships that out-lasts everything — For me this one stands out as by far the most important lesson among all the others. No matter how big the next crisis will be, no matter how treacherous the road to recovery will be, if there is one thing that can see you and your business through any crisis, it will be your relationships with your customers. Building long lasting good-will with customers is hard and calls for more than having a strategy around it. It is about doing business with a heart, it is about telling your customers every day that you care and it is about demonstrating the value you create by the way you serve your customers. Customer service as a function will transform for good and the companies that succeed in upending their existing customer service processes and rethink a completely new one will be the ones who will be there for the long haul.
Once all of this ends and once we all go back to our business of doing business, let’s be aware of what people around us need right now. Hopefully Covid-19 has made us realize that our businesses are much more than being mere economic machines and at the end, the only thing which matters is being conscientious and doing things from our HEART.
If you have any feedback or comments or anything you would like to share, lets catch up over a conversation (from a distance J). You can reach me at our website www.asksid.ai or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org