Photo by Nick Bolton
There is a lot of speculation about how our world will look after the COVID-19 crisis. How drastically will our culture be affected? Will we continue to social distance? Will protective equipment become regular attire? And will handshakes and hugs be replaced by elbow bumps? Most businesses have been severely impacted by the shutdown while being forced to change how they interact with customers and employees. Will trends toward remote workers and online buying accelerate to significantly alter retail and office landscapes?
Every major crisis has influenced our culture and how we do business at some level. 9/11 altered how we manage air travel and building security. The great recession changed the mortgage industry and how we view debt. But somehow we were able to learn, change, and become stronger. Those who adapted and evolved quickly were soon running successful businesses again. Those who succumbed to fear & negativity were left behind. The first instinct is to protect and preserve the business. And while extremely important one must also not stop looking ahead and planning for the future. Here are 3 questions you must ask if you want to thrive in a post COVID-19 world.
Where Does Your Customer Experience Rank?
Many reluctant to shop online have been driven to the internet to make purchases and communicate with coworkers, family and friends. Shopify recently announced that customers were experiencing Black Friday-like sales numbers. In mid-April! Chances are likely that these ex-technophobes have or will receive an exceptional buying experience from an Amazon, Zoom, or other retail disrupter. The bar has been raised and your experience could be judged more harshly. Can product research, account creation, ordering, and returns be accomplished with minimal effort? Do customer service agents have the tools and information to resolve Issues quickly and accurately? Do you provide self-service capabilities and customer knowledge base to help customers help themselves? Customer service, once considered an expense by many businesses, now plays a critical role in maintaining and growing revenue. Are you positioned to reap the rewards?
Are Employees Empowered for Productivity?
After cost of goods, payroll is most likely the largest expense – by a lot. Maximize your return on this investment by giving employees the tools and information they need to do a great job. Sales people can spend as much as 65% of their time on non-sales activities such as organization, data entry, emails, and issue resolution. Increase productivity significantly by automating these tasks. Make information such as sales, margin, purchases, and last order date easy to access to help identify opportunities faster and make sales calls more effective. Use marketing automation to nurture leads and stay first in mind with customers so sales can focus on providing value and closing deals. Cut down on chair swivel time by giving service agents easy access to customer sales, purchase, and issue history. Cut training time with a knowledge base of frequent issues and questions. Empowered employees who feel they can make a difference are happier, and become great ambassadors for your company and brand.
Is Your Technology Stack Built For the Future?
We know the cloud is revolutionizing technology. There are several reasons for the excitement behind this movement. Cloud software has made it easy to adopt new technologies and has become the great equalizer for many businesses. Software is sold via yearly subscription and maintained by vendors greatly reducing or eliminating license and hardware investment as well as maintenance expense. It is also very important to have technology that plays well with others to eliminate data silos. Best in class cloud software platforms allow open integration with other solutions giving customers the ability to adopt new technologies faster and bring in data to get a true view of the business. They also use non-proprietary servers such as Microsoft Azure and AWS with superior security and uptime. This allows them to focus on what they do best, consistent product improvement and customer success. Don’t risk the future of your business with a partner who prioritizes profits over your success.
Asking the 3 questions above are a critical part of the digital transformation journey. A journey, not a task or project, because it is a constant process of evaluation, planning, and implementation that happens over and over again. True evaluation requires candid responses. Involve all employees to achieve this while giving them skin in the game to increase the likelihood of success. A neutral party like CRM International can enhance the process as outside “experts” often have more success eliciting honest feedback and conveying the importance of the journey being undertaken. But no matter the method, it is most important to start your journey. You can’t afford not to do it.