What a difference a month makes. Times have changed dramatically for many businesses across the globe, and no matter the industry or size of your operation, we're all facing unprecedented challenges. Unfortunately, for many of us, this simply means trying to stay afloat. So here's the top five things you need to think about now to ensure you can stay on course in this fast-changing landscape.
Step 1 - Review the way you do business
Have a look at your offering today. And think about ways in which you can continue delivering your product, offers or services – online.
Here's some tips:
If you're a wholesale distributor, make sure you have a website or an eCommerce platform so people can buy your products online
If you're a business that runs face-to-face programs, think about whether you can take these programs online in a virtual setting
Do you sell office supplies or furniture? With people now working remotely, they need to have an office set up ready to go. So start offering your catalogue online.
Then look at your back office. Do you have all the right systems to take your business online? A big stumbling block for businesses right now is that their systems are old or on-premise, so their staff have to be in the office to use them. If you can't set your people up to work remotely, it can cause your team a lot of stress.
Review your finance and operations. Do you have a cloud system in place to support these functions? Meeting your customer's needs will depend on you having access to your information and keeping on top of your cashflow. Check out this blog from our CTO with some more suggestions about how you can keep operating securely from anywhere.
And don't forget to make it easy for your customers to reach you. A central support number or email address will give your customers a single, clear touchpoint and reassure them that it's business as usual.
Step 2 - Keep getting your name out there
It's natural during a time of crisis to lose focus on your marketing and advertising because there's bigger things to deal with. But the opposite is true. Keeping your name out there on digital marketing platforms is vital right now for two key reasons.
First is to show your customers and prospects that it's business as usual. Let them know your service or product is still available. Tell them what support they can expect or if there's any changes to service levels or delivery. Use your channels to tell people what's happening in your business. Stay active on social media or paid advertising, so your market knows you're still there. With plenty of people now online, you'll have more eyes to get in front of.
The second reason is that you have a real opportunity to help people - so use it. If you give your prospects useful, supportive information that helps them through the hard times, once things have returned to normality, you'll be front of mind. Be sensitive to your audience's problems and show empathy. We've never been more connected in shared experience, so make sure your campaigns and messaging reflect this. Whatever you do, make sure your message and tone are right for the time.
Step 3 - Make it easy for your customers with eCommerce
Many businesses are taking their service or product offering online to make sure their customers can still buy from them—a crucial way to stay in business.
To do this, you need an eCommerce platform that can take payments from your website. There are plenty of eCommerce options that are easy to set up and use. And more and more customers will be familiar with buying products and services this way, so take advantage of this way to sell.
Step 4 - Get paid and chase payments
Unfortunately, we've already seen a big impact on staff retention, with some industries under immense pressure to cut staff just to stay in business. The Government is trying to ease the burden with assistance schemes that encourage retention. And also to support those in the devastating position of having lost their job. You can find more information and resources from the Government here.
For remaining staff, getting paid is an essential comfort. So make sure your payroll system can run as normal, especially if it's on-prem and you're working remotely. Look at options for taking your payroll to the cloud and integrating it with your other systems. You want the peace of mind that in an otherwise turbulent time, your people are getting paid right and on-time.
Plus, don't forget to chase up late payments. Cash flow is vital in uncertain times, and you might be surprised with how many overdue bills still haven't been paid.
You could also consider packaging your services for an attractive price, or offering your prospects limited-time discounts. Look at what options you have to keep the money coming in while helping your customers through their challenges at the same time.
Step 5 - Make remote work productive and enjoyable
If you're lucky enough to have cloud technology, you're probably finding a lot of your people are now working from home. But making remote work productive and efficient doesn't just happen overnight.
Set regular meetings using online meeting software. This will help your teams feel connected and be a great opportunity to connect face to face, even when you can't meet up in the office. A daily team meeting to plan, set priorities and check in on everyone is a great way to start the day and helps people stay focused and feel supported. Lots of companies are using applications like Microsoft Teams now, so you can also set up online meetings to speak with customers and suppliers – it's the new normal.
If you have them available, online collaboration tools will let your people work on documents together, share and update their work and save the need to email back and forth. It will also prevent version control issues as they're all working on the latest copy.
Don't forget to make time for some fun. Remote work means there's no water cooler chats or coffee breaks - so why not organise a weekly online team meeting for a work-free chat.
We're all in this together
It's never been more important for businesses to support each other any way we can. If you're struggling with transitioning your business online or setting up your teams to work remotely, let us know how we can help, at email@example.com.