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The Recovery Will Be Digital

4 April, 2020

It's already started. The research was easy to see. Businesses with established and matured digital platforms, workflows, and cultures underpinning their businesses are in a place where they can continue operating, profiting, and generally keeping the lights on. Those that have not cultured their digital platforms and teams are in a place many can relate these days: disrupted or non-existant sales and sales-fulfillment processes that are separated from main marketing initiatives.

 

In other words, those that were not digitally ready are in Never Never Land:

  • incomplete inventory
  • online product unrelated to real available warehouse stock
  • limited amount of actually available product or service offerings online for propsects to find
  • stale online customer service information
  • old reporting requiring manual staff management
  • customer service calls unable to transfer to active remote staff
  • remote staff and stakeholders unable to access up-to-date customer reporting and information; they're stuck without human intervention
  • platform not ready for remote staff getting bogged down
  • limited access and security measures for staff to use information systems, and collaborate with each other (email doesn't count)

 

Those that continued to evolve, improve, and cultivate workflow and customer relationship measures through their digital platform continue to operate successfully with most, or all of their staff operating remotely:

  • ongoing and accurate inventory
  • up to date warehouse stock available online
  • complete product lists and service offerings avialable online
  • real-time online customer service information
  • easily-managed or fully automated reporting and financials
  • remote-ready cloud-based customer service calls
  • remote staff and stakeholders managing customer reporting and information uninterrupted
  • high-performing platforms fast and robust for remote staff
  • security and communications measures in place for staff to access information systems, and collaborate with each other

 

Social human behaviour is going to creep back slowly and cautiously over a long period. It's not going to roar back in one day as though nothing had ever happened.

 

Most businesses out there are being forced to pivot one way or the other

The ones in the second group above, are in a significantly more solid position to pivot; unfortunately ones in the first group will have a much harder time.

meeting across table physical distancing 

Social human behaviour is going to creep back slowly and cautiously over a long period

It's not going to roar back in one day as though nothing had ever happened.

This is the key planning point that all businesses need to plan on starting yesterday. There is no crystal ball, no one can guarantee what is going to happen, but even if you discount political and legal measures to enforce and educate social behaviour presently, people are unlikely to revert back and resume every aspect of their lives given the risks they and their loved ones have endured for what is likely to be months and in some way, years.

At the same time, unlike the Spanish Flu of 1918, modern society has the luxury of remaining in contact digitally, continuing to purchase, manage, and otherwise keep physical isolation at least bearable. It is hard to imagine what physical isolation was like in 1918 with virtually no ability to communicate with broader society.

We are at a time where digital habits are being entrenched day by day. Shipping and fulfillment operations are scaling up to meet shifting consumer habits, and those that are doing so quickly are already reaping rewards. Those that cannot are losing out already. Those that continue operations, even if scaled back, will have lived and worked through their new digital-first reality and will benefit from streamlining and cultivating their business model.

In some part this will mean a digital pivot for many if not most businesses that will come out ready for a post COVID world. 

Some human behaviour is going to be changed for good

Elements of digital consumerism are going to jump on the new market behavioural demand for digital service interactivity, thereby pouring what investment is available into that space and firmly away from traditional face-to-face models. As quickly as possible those able to pivot to service that demand will find ways to capitalize on revenue and make that user experience as ideal, convenient, and enjoyable as possible.

While customer persona has been forced into this behaviour by COVID social and legislative demands, it's also motivated by family safety and need. When enough supply chain sectors adapt to service this experience, they're likely to find a level of demand and scale they had not seen the need, nor found the self-motivation or customer-motivation to cultivate ever before.

Your Customer Persona is changing day by day 

I encourage all businesses, if they're not doing it already, to focus on their customer persona on a week by week basis. "Week by week"?! Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures, and monitoring how your customer's mindsets and motivations are evolving is enlightening, and to some degree, empowering. 

Foot traffic is going to remain virtually non-existant. If this represented a meaningful percentage of revenue then what do you do as quickly as you can to focus on the non-foot traffic customer?

Even when isolation rules are eased, foot traffic will not roar back. How do you leverage your focus on non-foot-traffic revenue ongoing to continue your customer relationships?

Your staff workflow and productivity will impact everything regardless of where they work from. Not every business, nor business activity can work 100% remotely, but having systems, team culture, training, and communications can mean the difference between a prolonged period of nearly zero revenue and zero momentum, and some (or high) level of business activity plus a momentum to build toward the recovery.

The Recovery Will be Digital

Because human actions are already being trained to think remotely, your customer persona has already begun its shift. Even as in-person business returns, it will trail digital business in ways very difficult to measure - but given that well-positioned digital businesses are already benefiting in some way, they are already playing to that customer persona. How much of a head start they have in the recovery depends on other businesses - their competitors - understanding this or not.

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