Before the pandemic, “pivoting” was a word more frequently affiliated with a nimble professional athlete, not an ordinary business. Repositioning has become a necessity and is good practice to continue monitoring when the pandemic is no longer the focus of the world.
The basic vision and mission of an organization can remain the same, but additional tactics can be added to the mix as brand and customer preferences evolve. Your strategy may remain constant, but how you implement it is when innovation and flexibility take over.
Start by looking inside out. Are your associates as engaged now as they were when they joined you? We all know of people who would love to quit their jobs, but fear starting over, especially with the benefits they have accumulated. Are there ways to enhance the culture so even veterans feel refreshed, or new ways to put your philosophy in action? Company endorsements of planned acts of kindness can entrench a company within a community. Planned community outreach opportunities can make employees feel that the human component within the company and beyond is still at the forefront. Arranging an activity for associates where all can participate regardless of role, transportation availability, etc., can encourage employees to do something for others and work better as a team. Civic beautification projects, assisting seniors, serving meals, “adopting” a school, etc., are all ways brands can become known for a continuum of care. When the recipients need that particular product or service in their lives, they’ll remember you.
The mission statement is more than a sign on the wall. It must be a guiding principle and way of occupational life that is evident from the beginning of recruitment through onboarding and retention. All your company documents should reflect this philosophy and actions must be in synch with the words. A promise made must be a promise kept.
Look within your company and see how the pandemic made you re-evaluate just about everything. What new processes did you implement that will forever remain because they abandoned — for everyone’s benefit — the “we’ve always done it this way” mentality? Tell the stories of what you did, why you did it, and how it benefitted your customers. Let this become part of your living history and add to it. Explain why customer feedback helped you reach the conclusions you did to make them a part of the process. There are probably plenty of testimonials for your brand available for the asking. Consider making a group you can regularly return to for feedback.
Naturally, there will be expectations of cutting costs in some areas and ramping up in others. Focus on your core strengths and products, without abandoning marketing; share with customers the modifications you’ve made and why your brand matters to them. Thorough research can help ensure you’re as close to customer preferences as you think you are and need to be. Their sentiments can arrive and depart with the wind if there is a reason. Look at the data and see if there are any surprises.
When so many workers began working from home, demographic categories may not have changed, but the roles were blurred. For instance, maybe both parents in a family were suddenly working from home as well as providing childcare and tutoring throughout the day. Their lifestyle choices then came to the forefront more than which demographic box to check. See where their emotional footprints are now and may move to in the future.
Why makes your customers remain your customers? Most would rather consider an organization’s services like a sensible diet, enjoying your services in moderation versus doing without them. How important is everyday value in prompting a purchase? Consider offering more a la carte pricing, so customers feel as though they are purchasing only what they want and need. Flexibility is key when changes are expected during tough economic times. Make sure your changes make sense for now and can be retained or adjusted later.
Show that your business is truly trying to help by adjusting the product or service to meet the current demand, not merely force-feeding an item because of an abundance of stock. Many restaurants gravitated to offering appetizer portions so they could welcome guests at a more modest price point than lose them. You can stay true to your brand and retain the customer in the style and quality to which they have become accustomed.
Abandon any rigid boundaries between departments in favor of natural collaboration. Public relations should be everyone’s job, not just those of titled practitioners. Infusing plans with ideas from marketing, engineering, the sales force in the field and others only makes resulting decisions and products stronger because you’ve considered all sentiments, including the customer. Consider where these customers will be when the pandemic fully fades, and how your actions today will play out in the long run. You can extend a helping hand, such as extending the term of a membership, without diluting your brand and what it is known for among your customers. They’ll be glad not to pause their relationship with you if you make it clear their welfare is top of mind. Customer relationships cannot be discounted. Add value where you can.
The pandemic caused many companies to do more with less staff. From an efficiency standpoint, how much of this leanness can remain? Look at how well reallocated tasks during the pandemic matched with staff expertise. Retain the moves that proved beneficial. What modifications strengthened your company and positioned you well for when the world rebounds?
Retaining an optimal blend of research, brand building, staff enrichment and product modification will help your business be nimble for years to come.