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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.