How to meet customer and employee needs in a post-Covid world
In our last blog we looked at the immediate aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic and the lessons that can be learnt from lockdown.
This got us thinking about two of the major elements that make a business what it is – its staff and its customers – and how the needs of both of these essential audiences might have changed.
So as the economy begins to return to some sort of normality, whether or not you have been able to carry on operating your business in light of Covid-19 or if you have had to re-think and adapt, here we take a closer look at meeting these important needs.
Having potentially made significant changes over the last few weeks, businesses may want to think about how they service customers on an ongoing basis. Many more of us have got used to having meetings remotely, saving not only travel time but also the associated costs. Businesses coming out of lockdown may want to think about whether video calls could and should be made a more permanent feature of the way they operate.
Equally, many businesses may have adapted to using more digital tools to communicate with customers during lockdown, and perhaps it would make sense to continue to do this.
Rather than trying to second guess how your customers want you to service and communicate with them, how about asking them? Whether by way of an online survey or simply by gauging responses when you are talking to customers, now is an ideal time to put changes in place. It might even be beneficial to share the results of your survey with your customers to show that you have listened and to provide a platform on which to enact any changes.
Businesses that have lost customers and have had to significantly reduce their output as a result may actually want to think about whether they want to resume with servicing all of their old customers. Whilst a business is growing, it is often the case that you take on new customers as and when they present themselves. However, a stripped back version of the business, actually servicing fewer customers but better yielding ones, can actually be equally as profitable, but without as much stress.
From having to make redundancies through to reducing staff hours on a permanent basis, for some businesses, there will be difficult decisions ahead over the coming weeks and months so far as staff are concerned.
Even businesses that are in a position to be able to retain all of their staff will likely have some changes to make. For these businesses, there will still be lots to consider; such as how many staff to reinstate and when and how many staff can be safely accommodated in the workplace.
These decisions will need to be very carefully made, ideally with the help of facts and figures from KPI’s. The government furlough scheme is available to the end of October (to all staff who had previously been furloughed by 10th June) and therefore now more than ever is a time to use the support and flexibility to keep the business solvent, by reviewing who you need to work and when.
Although not everyone is best suited to working from home, and some members of your team might be itching to get back into the office, there may be a case for looking to implement a greater degree of flexible working on a permanent basis.
Whilst the paramount concern for all businesses will be to be able to operate profitably, thereafter, gathering opinion from your work force on how to move forward could be both useful and revealing. You may choose to do this initially on an anonymous basis by way of a survey, but speaking with each member of staff on a one-to-one basis will also be insightful. Whilst you will be unlikely to make everyone happy, taking the steer from your team, communicating frequently and being as supportive as possible will stand you in good stead.
As we return to life after the pandemic, the businesses that have adapted and made changes for the benefit of others are the ones that will come out of this in the most positive light and with loyal and willing customers and teams to boot.