No one has escaped the impact of the pandemic. Yes some, such as the tech giants and some in healthcare have benefited but most have lost.
Being affected by the global Covd19 Pandemic has been a shared experience across all businesses I can think of.
For some – such as hospitality, travel or events – the impact has been devastating.
So we are all affected, but are we all infected? The difference is clear. We all carry the burden (or profit from the opportunities) of the pandemic, but some businesses have also been infected by this global disease.
What do I mean by that? While all businesses have had to rethink their business models, delivery channels, products or services in some way to pivot and survive – some businesses have fallen ill. This is a true tragedy since it is to some extent self inflicted.
What does this illness look like?
It’s hard not be down when times are hard, but some businesses and business leaders have slumped from sadness to depression. You can see it in the lack of care for the basics: Not engaging with colleagues while on Zoom or MS Teams, not showing appreciation for good work or customer loyalty – not being able to celebrate the small wins. Depressed leaders – who don’t show care and don’t provide energy to their teams will eventually result in depressed frontliners and a depressing customer experience. Sharing loss and sadness can be a source of comfort, but when depression and disengagement sets in it becomes a vicious spiral.
2. Poor hygiene:
We have never washed or sanitised our hands more – but this obsession with physical hygiene has left another form of shoddiness and dirt to set in unattended to. Walking into a mobile phone store or retail shop and seeing rows of empty spaces where demo products used to be, walking into a retail store and finding untidy unkempt shelves and preoccupied and dishevelled store assistants gives the impression that the retail sector is actively colluding with its own demise. Yes footfall is down and yes times are tough in physical retail – but the in store experience is the one remaining differentiator of the physical store, surely worth tending to?
3. Confusion and forgetfulness:
Brain fog is often identified as a symptom of long-Covid. As contact centres have been decentralised due to the pandemic and agents working from home, keeping the workflows joined up has become harder. More and more sales opportunities are missed, calls not returned and customer commitments broken. In a world where many customers are feeling stressed and overloaded, adding to this by not holding the space for them is an unforgivable misstep. Everything in the decentralised organisation should be focused on one core commitment: “your word is your bond” . Once customer promises and commitments fall by the wayside, the emotional connection between the brand and the customer is broken and it won’t be long before the business is lost.
Sometimes we lose our appetite when we are ill, sometimes we overeat. In many of the most hard-hit segments of the economy there is hunger and there has been deprivation for months. Many businesses are close to the edge when it comes to cash flow.
So when a customer finally walks back into the shop or restaurant it is tempting to make up for all those months of hunger by feasting on the first prey that braves our lair. Prices are hiked up, portion sizes slashed, sanitary capacity usage limitations are discarded and sought after products are sold at extortionate prices. In a moment of sheer gluttony, years worth of customer loyalty is eaten alive in a “grab what you can” moment of famished overreach.
It’s so hard to be restrained after so many months of deprivation, but customers will remember those restaurants that “packed them in” despite the health risks and those sports shops that adjusted the price of home fitness equipment by 200%. Normality and sustainability is so dependent on the “custom” part of customers. Resist the temptation to gorge now and starve later.
Bed rest is often indicated for the ill and the weak, but the way businesses respond to adversity can often be categorised into to those who raise up and those who lie down. This pandemic has changed things forever – lying down and waiting for things to “go back to normal” will result in a slow, protracted death.
Get up, pivot, re-imagine and re-invent that which can be reinvented and at the same time – maintain, polish and tend to that what is.
We are all affected. We do not all need to be infected. The energy, care for the little details, commitment, optimism and restraint of leaders at all levels of your organisation is you best defence against this business killing pandemic.