It’s a fact the next normal will look very different. Many companies are doing their best to manage short term priorities to “Navigate the now”. Many have already started to plan their comeback and want to “Shape their next normal”. We can’t wait for the clouds to clear. The crisis has increased the speed of decision making. If we want to exist stronger and influence the future, the time to act is now.
Right now, we need to listen more than we speak. Not just to hear, but to understand. Many leaders are making a total inventory across their organizations as they listen to what people are thinking, feeling, fearing, and experiencing. Only with a complete picture and accurate understanding of today, you can better project tomorrow.
I am also noticing more and more discussions about how to address this uncertainty head-on; how to prepare for getting economies up and running again, as we emerge from lock-downs; what to consider and how to best use the time now to help mitigate the long-term impact of this crisis.
Envision your tomorrow, rethink your operating models, adopt agile innovation, and build capabilities for a fast-changing environment.
Care for employees. In times of crisis, caring for customers starts with thinking about employees first. Keep them safe, offer genuine support! As in every pref-light briefing, it’s important to put on your oxygen mask before helping others. Don’t forget about the humor!
It’s often forgotten, but listen to your front-line employees, they are your eyes and ears on the ground. Collect their feedback and critical insights on how customers are feeling and how daily interactions are changing. Leverage their expertise and knowledge to adapt to changing experiences. The way organizations deal with their customers, their employees, and the broader community in a crisis, is likely to leave lasting memories in customers’ minds.
Anticipate 2021. Certain industries may not look the same a year from now. Leadership is connecting the dots and thus shaping how the organization will look like post-crisis and how it needs to transform to get there. Strategy definition is happening in real-time, nimbly.
Speed is of the essence to be able to respond accurately to changing conditions and opportunities coming up. The next few weeks and months will shape the future of your company. So, the point isn’t to develop a detailed plan but rather to define a broad direction where you want to go, develop modular scenarios for multiple versions of your future, define actions and tactics robust enough to enable you to adapt and scale. Don’t forget to also connect the strategy with the purpose to keep the organization on course, to envision the endpoint. This big idea will bring consistency and determination to your evolving tactical response.
Adapt your operating models. Remote sales and virtual interactions are becoming new normal. Recent restrictions have shifted consumption online. Companies will thus need to learn how to strengthen their online presence, build new e-commerce businesses quickly.
Be pragmatic - go to market fast, with a limited offering, limited locations, gain strong traction, and then scale. Don’t forget to measure and monitor your impact. Learn and adapt - discard poor ideas and generate new ones constantly, implement improvements weekly until your business will mature to business as usual.
Keep a real-time pulse on changing customer preferences. Many customers are changing their habits and rituals. Satisfaction metrics are showing a shift from what customers want to what they need. It is key to understands customer preferences to redesign journeys that matter and to rapidly innovate in this very different context.
Customers are trying digital and remote - support them and introduce new digital options, establish omnichannel payments, accelerate time to market and enable contact-free delivery. Many customers who will convert to digital services will likely stick to them after the immediate crisis is over. Companies that make this shift and deliver superior customer experiences have an opportunity to increase adoption and maintain the relationship.
Find savings without sacrificing experience. In a downturn, cutting costs is inevitable. But that doesn’t have to come at the expense of a good customer experience that creates substantial value.
To improve experience and efficiency rather increase digital self-service and adapt operational trade-offs to what matters most to customers. The sooner that companies can fulfill new customer needs and accelerate time to market, the better it is. Building agility across functions to handle changing customer circumstances is necessary and will have long-lasting benefits. Therefore, introduce a test-and-scale approach and allow the creation of new experiences with a quick release to market. Prioritize innovations that fit with remote, digital or home delivery trends that are likely to accelerate and continue to differentiate also in a new reality.
Keep your people safe, stay on top of your business, and deal with the uncertainty despite constantly changing conditions. The world is evolving fast. We don’t know which scenario we are approaching. We need to try and be the best learner - the first to know where the world is going; be the best adapter - the one making the best decisions. It isn’t about starting with the perfect plan: it’s about being fast and constantly improve – this will matter most in this fast-moving world.