The COVID-19 crisis will continue to create massive challenges for organisations in industries like hospitality and tourism, but the truth is, the slowing economy means that businesses in most industries will face economic headwinds in the coming years. Smart use of digital technologies will become critical to helping these businesses survive and thrive.
Since the Covid-19 crisis took hold of Australia in early March, businesses have been scrambling to cut costs, keep customers, and stay relevant.
Digital gone wrong
The sudden arrival of the crisis has led to a deluge of digital communications, messages and offers from many businesses. The use of digital tools reflects the panic among many businesses – get a message or an offer out there no matter what. Show everyone that we offer value.
However, if we reflect on the situation from a customer point of view, the situation might be viewed differently.
Why are businesses who have not been in touch for months (or years) suddenly sending me multiple emails telling me how much they care about my (or my businesses) welfare in times of crisis?
Why are consultants clogging up my social media channels to talk up their credentials in business continuity, leadership in a time of crisis and other skills for the first time?
How do I find time to attend all these webinars? How do I even set aside the time to decide which webinars invitations to even accept?
Don’t get me wrong, email marketing, social media, and webinars are tools we recommend and use ourselves. However, at the present moment, these channels are being overused by businesses that are in survival mode and desperate to survive. This makes it difficult to cut through the clutter and to get your message to clients.
Perhaps it makes more sense to limit your activity with these tools and focus on other digital initiatives?
Here are six digital recommendations we think can help deliver long term value.
1. Improve your visibility in search engines
"Be a tortoise, not a hare"
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) has had a resurgence in recent years as people realise that it can deliver longer-term value than other digital marketing initiatives (e.g. social media, online advertising). While your competitors are fighting it out on social media channels looking for immediate rewards, work on making sure your products and services will be seen on Google. It may take a few months to see the benefits, but that’s ok. When the economy is getting back to normal and we all start looking for products and services again, you’ll be well-positioned to be found by prospective customers on Google.
2. Improve the ability of clients to self-serve online
"Let your customers be a couch potato"
We all know that 20% of our customers deliver 80% of our profits. Now more than ever, it is imperative to focus on delivering great service to your best customers. One way to improve service is to allow customers to serve themselves online at their convenience. What services can you put online to allow customers to do this? Online forms, chatbots, self-assessment tools, access to graphs and data related to services and e-commerce (buying and re-ordering) are some of the tools we are seeing adopted by our smartest clients.
3. Make your product and services available to be purchased online
"Don't forget eCommerce"
Ecommerce is something many businesses have put on the “future to-do” list for a long-time. However, with social distancing in place and the likelihood it may continue in some form for a while, now is the time to consider building your eCommerce capability. Yes, it can be a large task, but it can always be rolled out incrementally. eCommerce is a tool still widely under-utilised, especially by B2B companies. It can provide a massive competitive advantage, especially if your competitors are still lagging.
Why not consider making your top five products or services available for purchase to the top 20% of your customers?
4. Automation of processes
"Let a computer do what you don't have to"
It is likely that there are still dozens of manual processes in your business that you just haven’t had the time to automate. Now is the time to do it. You need all your employees focused on delivering value-adding services. Your manual processes take time, generate errors, and wastes resources. This all hits your bottom line. Look at how you can use APIs to automate your business processes. We call this smart glue – it ties your systems and data together.
5. Use your internal communication tools to better share knowledge
"Don't call it a day with video calls"
Chances are you are using Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or Gotomeeting. These are great for remote meetings but they won’t replace the ad-hoc conversations in front of whiteboards, in corridors, or in the pub, where questions are asked, answered and discussed. Tools like Slack and Yammer can fill the void (well somewhat anyway) and also reduce the increasingly incessant email threads. They’ve been around a long time but if your organisation doesn’t use them effectively now might be the time to embed them in your organisation.
6. Use your CRM and pick up the phone!
"Pick up the phone...They will appreciate it more than ever"
While all your competitors are blasting your customers with newsletters, consider picking up the phone and asking them how they are getting on and if you can be of assistance. Now is the time for the human touch that customers will appreciate. Review the customers in your CRM (customer relationship management system) and put in place a contact program to call your customers, prioritising your most loyal ones.
The team at Symphony3 are here to help. If you want more information or would simply like to discuss what opportunities are available for your business, get in touch.