The onset of COVID-19 has dramatically changed the world and created an uncertain business landscape. With this uncertainty, however, comes opportunity.
COVID-19 has thrown the world into a period of uncertainty not seen since the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918. With shelter orders taking place both around the world and within the United States, citizens and businesses are being forced to adapt to a new normal. While this has been cause for some (justifiable) anxiety, new opportunities have surfaced and the world is figuring out how to adapt. Much of this adaptation has been fueled by digital media, which has made well-designed experiences more important than ever.
As a result, it is extremely important for your company to consider how it can leverage technology and invest in design. Doing so will help you stay productive during the pandemic and beyond.
Shelter-in-place orders have gone into effect in 45 states, making work from home (WFH) a necessity for companies trying to adapt to new market conditions. During this time, it’s become apparent that workers are able to remain productive despite not being in a physical office and there’s a very good chance this will become a permanent part of business life moving forward.
This has been backed up by a recent Gartner survey of 317 CFOs and finance leaders, where 74% stated they would expect to move previously on-site employees to remote positions once the COVID-19 crisis has ended. Much of this has been fueled by a desire to cut commercial real estate costs and to give workers a higher standard of living. We’ve already seen how important it is for companies to leverage software and technology in order to weather the storm—if a vast number of workers are moved to remote positions once the pandemic is over, this need will only increase.
Right now, video conferencing products such as Zoom, Google Hangouts, RingCentral, and GoToMeeting are the most popular tools companies are using for remote collaboration. But, there is a plethora of other tools out there to help companies collaborate, as well as streamline operations and better share information.
Project management tools like Asana, Atlassian, Slack, and Basecamp do a fantastic job of giving teams a central hub in which they can store/access information and prioritize tasks. More importantly, these tools give teams a central location where they can see and understand who is working on what without having to take anybody away from that work. Furthermore, there are customer relationship management (CRM) tools such as Hubspot, Salesforce, and Zendesk that let you centralize customer data and streamline operations related to sales and support.
Utilizing these tools will help you understand your customers better than before, provide you greater visibility on your teams’ productivity levels, and keep your workers aware of what their colleagues are working on.
Remote work affects more than just your workers, it also changes the experience your customers have. With your customers being remote, it’s important for you to have a strategy to market, sell, and support them without ever seeing them. Don’t think this is just a temporary change, though. Making alterations to how your business operates will serve you both now and down the road well after the COVID-19 crisis is resolved.
Accommodating the remote customer can come through either a purely digital or hybrid (digital and physical) experience. Both of these can help you streamline and sometimes even automate the interactions you have with your customers, giving them a more efficient, consistent, and higher quality experience.
If you haven’t invested in your customers’ digital experiences yet, doing so could actually create new income centers for you. This is because your customers will now have new avenues in which to interact with your business. During times of uncertainty, this will give your company some much-needed stability, but once things return to normal, you’ll have new areas of growth. Simply put, investing in digital experiences will help you build upon and enhance the pre-existing physical experiences you’ve already been giving your customers.
Is there a single solution, a “silver-bullet” that can solve your problems? No, of course not. But, leveraging design thinking to adapt to market conditions will better prepare your company to weather the storm than those that aren’t.
What is design thinking? According to the Interaction Design Foundation, “Design thinking is an iterative process in which we seek to understand the user, challenge assumptions, and redefine problems in an attempt to identify alternative strategies and solutions that might not be instantly apparent with our initial level of understanding.”
Design thinking will help your business determine how to invest your time and resources to better connect with your customers. Furthermore, it will help you leverage solutions that will provide you with a temporary fix to the problems created by the shelter-in-place. If your business can’t operate in just the digital realm, some creative solutions are needed.
For example, let’s look at the restaurant industry, which has been turned upside down since the shelter orders have been issued. Whereas they once had purely physical experiences, they’ve had to adapt to a hybrid approach. This has most notably included creating optimized to-go processes for customers. However, some restaurants are creating grocery/produce packages to help their local communities, while others have given out recipes and tutorials for customers who wish to support them remotely. These solutions aren’t just helping them survive during the pandemic, however. They’re also building the foundation for completely new experiences once the crisis is over.
Not only can technology help you better serve your customers, it can also provide you with data-driven insights to help make decisions, as well as the ability to test and refine customer experiences on a small scale. This in turn will give you the power to adapt to different market conditions should they arise in the future.
The importance of investing in design and leveraging technology has become greater over the past two months than ever before. It’s imperative for your company to be able to provide both your employees and customers effective and quality remote experiences. Not only will this help you during the pandemic, but it will also empower your company with the ability to adapt to whatever may come in the future.