Moving Your Business Forward During the COVID-19 Pandemic
The COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic is an unprecedented time of uncertainty for many generations. With a drive to keep as many people home as possible, some businesses have shut down completely, hoping to weather out the storm. Many others have pivoted to a “Work From Home” mandate to continue offering services for consumers in the hopes of surviving the economic woes created by this pandemic. The one main thread is that right now, businesses are vulnerable. Supply chains have been disrupted, revenue has taken a hit, employees have been cut back or laid off, and businesses are uncertain whether they’ll still exist once this is all over.
To survive this pandemic (or any future global disruptions), your business has to move forward. This is not the time to quit; it’s time to make your business better by streamlining and automating the vital functions your company needs to survive. The current downtime caused by the COVID-19 pandemic is the perfect opportunity to clean out your business’s to-do list and concentrate on implementing the systems you’ve wanted to for a while.
One major way to continue forward in this current pandemic is with business process automation. Why not use the downtime to implement a system that is cost-effective, error-proof, efficient, saves time, and ensures best practices? Especially now that your business may have had to lay off people who do things like accounts payable, employee onboarding, contracted management, and the like. Or, if you’ve been able to retain your employees, having them work from home means they may be inundated with distractions from working in a new environment with new stressors, as well as anxiety from an open-ended ongoing global pandemic, and may fall behind on completing tasks.
The COVID-19 pandemic has created opportunities for many people to work from home out of necessity when that may not have been an option before. While helping to keep people sequestered in their homes and out of communal spaces does wonders for stopping the spread of a virus, it can create several weaknesses that don’t exist in an office environment. Suddenly, employees are being expected to deliver the same level of productivity in a home environment, possibly surrounded by pets, significant others who have either been laid off or are also working from home, or young children that can no longer be occupied by school or daycare. The general feelings of fear, anxiety, and uncertainty many are experiencing also can’t be discredited as distracting variables.
With all of these preoccupations, a lot of things that contribute to a business running smoothly can fall by the wayside. Poor communication can crop up, either between employees used to being in the same office and readily available or between business and consumer. People are more apt to miss emails or forget to follow up on questions or concerns when they’re trying to juggle the family, caregiver, and worker hats all at the same time. Unfortunately, communication isn’t the only issue. Any other task that a physical employee is responsible for is at risk of delay or oversight (such as payroll), because of distractions or difficulties accessing office systems due to faulty at-home connections. Some roles may even need employees to continue going into the office to get any work done if they don’t possess the correct software at home, endangering themselves and those around them. All of these issues can be solved by implementing business process automation. Businesses don’t need to worry about distracted employees replying to customer inquiries or getting paycheques out when the tasks have been programmed to happen automatically.
The COVID-19 pandemic can also highlight other weaknesses in your business’ ability to meet consumer demands. Specifically, it can shine a light on product availability and delivery. With many manufacturers either closing down or shifting their output to products that may help combat the pandemic, many businesses have found that their supply chain has been disrupted and they have no way to get products to consumers who are still demanding them. The current landscape can allow you to look into alternate supply chains to avoid these same disruptions moving forward. If your business still has product, however, delivering them to consumers on-time (or at all) can be a challenge. Especially for global customers, delivery restrictions in some countries can partially cut off a business’s revenue stream and force consumers to find other alternatives for the present, and possibly for the future. During the pandemic, your business needs to overcome this weakness to ensure you can surpass customer expectations. Use other delivery methods, such as EMS (FedEx, DHL, etc.) if a country has restricted traditional mail delivery. Or start focusing on digital delivery if your product can warrant it (ie. books, music, etc). If your business can get products to people in a pandemic, you’ll be able to get it to them in any situation, ensuring brand loyalty.
Customer Needs are Changing
Consumers have been slowly moving digital for years, but this sudden and dramatic push towards wholly remote work and delivery has accelerated the need for businesses to embrace the digital world. Does your business offer physical products, but sudden supply chain or delivery issues during the COVID-19 pandemic have made it difficult to get your product to customers? Meet those changing circumstances head-on and find a way to offer those same products digitally. Digital delivery can also be another task handled by automation, easing the pressure on employees and ensuring speedy, instantaneous product delivery.
Globally-minded businesses have already taken this opportunity to shift their thinking and open up new opportunities for revenue and business growth. A perfect example is Talk to Me in Korean, a Seoul-based Korean language-learning resource for English-speakers. A major source of revenue for them is through the sale of their physical lesson books. However, recent pandemic-related shipping restrictions in South Korea means that shipping those books out internationally for a reasonable price (or at all) is severely hampered. They can still send their product via EMS services, but the higher price point is out of reach for many consumers. To combat the decrease in revenue, within the last few days they’ve begun offering an assortment of their resources in e-book form. Not only has this allowed them to continue operating in a global economic shutdown, but they’ve been able to open their market to an even wider field of customers who may never have been able to afford their previous shipping charges. Not only have TTMIK found a way to continue thriving during this pandemic, but adding this automated digital product delivery is something that can continue to grow in the aftermath, once COVID-19 has been contained.
What happens when the COVID-19 pandemic ends and people can go back to their normal lives? No one can truly know, but the reliance on digital and remote work and product delivery will be hard to step away from. Upgrading your business now can ensure you survive in this present moment, and can continue to offer top-notch service to customers in the future. If you put the effort now into ensuring your business can move forward through the pandemic, you’ll possess the advantage of having weathered the storm. With COVID-19 projected to be here until the summer, at least until another wave potentially hits, a lot of businesses will be unable to survive the extended financial hardship. However, by upgrading your business with process automation, focusing on online delivery, and finding creative ways to maintain customer loyalty and bolster revenue, you can endure. Once your business has survived this, it can survive anything.
Calibre Consulting offers Business Process Automation to help your business survive, grow, and thrive. Give us a call or send us an email for a complimentary consultation!