The COVID-19 global pandemic has impacted businesses far and wide, and will continue to do so in the months and years to come. At best, companies have taken a critical look at their business plans and adjusted their ways of working, amidst stay-at-home orders and operational disruptions. At worst, many businesses have filed for bankruptcy or shut down indefinitely. As the impact of the pandemic continues, now is the time to rethink and reset your business objectives and strategies. There’s no “going back to the way things were.” Will your strategy withstand the “new normal?” Will you emerge stronger post-pandemic?
Companies poised for sustainable, long-term growth are those that are addressing the discontinuities and trends emerging from the pandemic, and seizing them as opportunities. Flexibility and adaptability are critical. These companies will transform their thinking and continually innovate around their products, services, and business models to fit the ever-changing needs of customers and employees.
In this blog, we share the four key areas that companies must focus on, and provide an actionable guide on how to assess your company’s readiness for the post-pandemic world.
Post-Pandemic Areas of Opportunity
The changes occurring are complex and can be confusing. As we start to emerge from the pandemic, the future looks very different than the past. Companies need to focus on four critical areas to be successful (and stronger) over the long-term:
- Redefining the customer experience
- Reviving your relationship with employees
- Restructuring your supply chain
- Rethinking and resetting your strategy
Now is the time for resilient leaders to take decisive action to soften the shocks yet to come, and prepare for what may change in the months ahead.
Redefining the customer experience
Redefine the customer experience by deepening relationships and adapting to new customer needs. Beyond just ‘selling’ and maintaining relationships with existing customers, you should update customers on the status of your business, provide content that caters to their specific needs, and proactively assure them that you’re taking all COVID-19 safety protocols seriously. Communicate through multiple channels, such as individual phone calls, video chats, social media, and digital content. Distribute pulse surveys to understand customer needs and concerns. This is not the time to disappear.
Revive your relationship with employees
Human capital is critical, as employees are the engine that keeps a company moving forward. The pandemic has disrupted this. Employees are nervous. Many have lost their jobs or are on furlough. Communicate openly, honestly, and frequently with employees, and be flexible to their needs. This will help boost morale. Companies are having regular call-ins with work-from-home employees, and sending small gifts and thank-you notes. Do not shy away from giving employees feedback on their work. Now, more than ever, they need support and guidance.
Restructure your supply chain
Getting your supply chain back up and running is mission critical. Identify what went wrong, learn from it, and determine what you need to change. Many companies want multiple sources and more domestic or closer suppliers. Diversification away from China is an option that some companies are already considering. They may not move to the U.S. given higher costs, but to other countries in the Far East, Mexico, and Central America. Indonesia is all looking more attractive. Apple, for example, is moving some of its manufacturing to India.
Reset and rethink your business strategy
There has been an unprecedented degree and speed of change in many aspects of business, including customers, employees, and technology. We’re only beginning to understand some of these changes. Many companies are starting to think about their strategy and asking important questions: Will our strategy fit the new normal? What are the emerging opportunities, and how can we position ourselves to take advantage of them? Do we have the needed capabilities and core competencies? Is our value proposition still relevant? If not, how should we adjust it?
Post-Pandemic Readiness Assessment
“You don’t know what you don’t know.”
“You can’t manage what you can’t measure.”
“A goal without a plan is just a wish.”
These familiar sayings can quickly be overlooked given the current environment, but successful change management starts with a measurable plan. One way to emerge stronger post-pandemic is to understand where you are today and where you want to be. Your current state is probably very different than it was just six months ago. After reviewing the points made in the Emerge Stronger Post-Pandemic blog series, business leaders should have a good idea of the areas in which they should focus to prepare for the future. Recently, we worked with a client on their Post-Pandemic Readiness Assessment (see below). The radar chart below (also know as a spider diagram) illustrates the areas they are doing well, and areas that require need attention.
A radar chart is valuable, as it displays many layers of data and compares them in a single, holistic visual. In this example, the four quadrants represent the four areas we identified as critical success factors for emerging stronger post-pandemic. The individual labels in each quadrant reflect activities against which your business can measure. The white line shows where a company aspires to be, according to their business objectives. The shaded orange area represents the current state of the business, according to a specific scale.
As you can see, this company strives to excel in customer experience, but has significant improvements to make in order to get there. The information gained from this exercise will allow your organization to determine where they should prioritize their time, money, and resources to achieve the goals that differentiate them from the competition. In this example, we helped the client develop strategies specific to driving customer growth and enhancing customer experience.
Each organization will have unique strengths, weaknesses, and focus areas, depending on the nuances of the particular industry. For example, a SaaS company likely won’t see a need to diversify its supply chain, so its white line would be closer to the center of the diagram. However, employee engagement and customer experience are definite areas of focus, so the white line would fall toward the outer edge of the diagram, indicating their goal is to achieve excellence in these areas. Conversely, a B2B manufacturer relies heavily on its supply chain and strategy to be competitive.
When completing your post-pandemic readiness assessment, you must be realistic and focused. Your objective is not to excel and invest in all areas, but rather to hone in on areas most relevant to your company’s goals (in light of the pandemic). As with any long-term strategy, you must always be prepared for change and ready to review and pivot as needed. When unprecedented changes occur – like what we’re experiencing now – your goals can often feel like moving targets. You must move and be agile with them.
Preparing for Post-Pandemic
Ultimately, there is no universal, one-size-fits-all solution. The strategy you develop and implement should be based on your company’s unique circumstances, environment, and competitive space. What we’ve outlined here can serve as a guide to help you identify the areas in which you need to focus your efforts. The global economy is still reeling from the pandemic, and widespread recovery is still on the horizon, but now is the time to think about what your company needs to do today to influence tomorrow. Companies that continue to invest in themselves and prepare for recovery are the ones that will be ahead of the competition when we emerge from this pandemic.
Are you ready to rethink and reset your business strategy to emerge stronger post-pandemic? We can work with you to create your own radar chart that is specific to your company’s goals, and develop the right approach to customize actionable steps for your business. Contact us to get started!
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