Working in Bondi Junction, and while walking the streets now in a COVID-19 world, you can't help but feel for shop owners on the strip. Having relied on mostly foot traffic from tourists and Bondi beach bums up till now, the pivot from walks-ins to log-ins has not only changed the customer buying process dramatically, but the buyer mindset itself.
How worth it is it stepping into a store for a new pair of chinos' versus catching a deadly virus that could turn you or your loved ones into a statistic? Suddenly, rubbing sand in your toes down at Bondi beach could bring more than just a sandy mess into your house.
Everyone joked about how your digital device was a beacon for viruses... now its your greatest tool to combat just that very thing.
Here's the top 5 things you need to do for your business...
1. Upload your mindset
Just like customers are doing so naturally, likewise, you as a business need to download the concept of attracting customers through non-touch, fire walled and safe digital solutions.
This is at the top of the list, as it's the hardest and most important initial step to take. You can't simply write it off as a "temporary solution" or "this will do for now until stuff goes back to normal." As I guarantee you, this time of lockdown, working from home, social distancing, etc. is not going away any time soon, if ever.
How can I be so sure?
Well, every business that has successfully pivoted to a digital pathway of delivering the best version of their services and/or products, is killing it right now. The cost of a digital solution, that works itself and barely has any hiccups, is incredibly appealing. If that solution translate to great customer service outcomes, and the customer is smiling, then why would they step back to a more riskier way of getting what they desire?
You may be able to wipe a computer of a virus, but the world doesn't operate on a hard drive. Every human is wary now, and maybe for life. In your mindset, you must come to grips with this, and be prepared to make the digital solutions you install permanent for your business.
You may not see it now, but the digital infection has already started spreading - and it's the only contagious thing people should be willing to accept and embrace.
2. Invest in people, not technology
Every digital solution has a price tag, and that price tag is always associated most with the technology stack you'll need to invest in. However, you can have the best digital technology and solutions platforms Bondi living expenses can buy, and yet still fall short of delivery on what matters most - customer satisfaction.
You've seen it happening even to the biggest of companies like Amazon, Australia Post, Uber, MenuLog, Telstra and much more. So the size of your business doesn't really apply here, as under every faceless corporation, is a human brain trying to figure things out while trying to keep their brand consistent.
So find the brains, and then reach out to the compassion behind that brain. Code has no emotion, and doesn't care whether you sink or swim. Its primary objective is to do what it's programmed to do, and not deviate from that process.
So don't invest in just the technology alone, find people who are experts in it, and relate to your human desires, and want to likewise invest their time right back to you in coming up with a bespoke, customised and carefully considered solution.
Which leads into my next point...
3. Align your digital solutions and tech with your people
Not every person in your organisation is a digital guru, or even that savvy around a computer, and that is totally fine. It wouldn't be fair to assume they are, their work expectations are what they can offer to the company brand, and be the soul of the organisation. You can't just plug in someone and reprogram them - although, that would be pretty cool.
Granted, there are aspects to digital solutions like automation, coding, apps, paid media, e-commerce, etc. that directly effect your employees daily. However, their contact within those digital avenues are most likely minimal or they never even come close to touching them, nor seeing how the nuts and bolts actually work.
However, when your employee has to turn to a digital platform or system, they need to be fully empowered, trained and enabled to use it without any anxiety creeping in. Keep the tech talk away from the water cooler, the delivery truck, the shop front, from email, whatever. Again, invest in the brains to sort the technology, and advise on how to enable your team to carry out the bare basics at first within their newly administered bit of tech.
Whether it's the sales team using a platform for pipelines and lead monitoring (like HubSpot), or your shop assistant checking into the system at the next online order purchase. Be sure they're set, happy and feeling comfortable in their position, so that they can thrive in this new way of life - and give them the space to speak and be open.
Transparency is key, which is why my next point is...
4. Be transparent and use tools that keep you honest
If anything keeps you optimistic during a pandemic, it should be the thought that "we're all in this together". As this is the case, you shouldn't try and hide anything. No matter your business, your industry, your company size, or whatever. The world get's it, we're still all working this out, and mistakes will happen.
Good thing is, the world's technology directed to customers is becoming even more user friendly. UX (user experience) is now always at the top of the digital pyramid when it comes to tech development. So as a result, the person/s conducting the tech are more capable than ever before. This is all made possible by using transparent processes that keep both the user and customer within the tech fully across every action from either end, every step of the way.
Some businesses still have a ways to go, in terms of fully streamlining this process and removing any user anxiety or frustration, or from keeping anyone "in the dark". Those in retail, especially (ironically so) bigger, franchise outlets with tons of money to splash out on the best tools, toys and gadgets in tech, seem to be having the hardest trouble keeping or adding transparency within their digital experiences.
Which, on the flip side, gives smaller retail outlets (like those on the shores of Bondi nearby us) the advantage when it comes to their digital customer experiences. Mainly it's due to the size of the company (sometimes smaller is better in this case). You don't have 1000's of employees, and customer basis' in the millions, to navigate around and realign such a massive pivot.
So don't feel discouraged, the odds are in your favour. Customers now more than ever crave for an easy, transparent process that oozes honesty and earnest intent. I know I'd much prefer to know where my product or service is at, at any given point, by just picking up my smart phone and seeing an email, text or app that reassures me in realtime (even if there's a delay or change), than to not know at all and feel ripped off, frustrated and loosing faith in the business I trusted and bought into.
Speaking of pricing, this leads into my last point quiet nicely (I'm nailing these transitions)...
5. Don't damage your brand by investing on the cheap
Everything is negotiable. But that doesn't always equate to value gained.
If someone is offering you a digital solution, and constantly lowering their price tag, while still promising the same outcome... they're probably not going to deliver value to you, and are more than likely to miss the mark.
This could seriously harm your business.
In a world that (daily) collectively clenches its butt cheeks upon opening Twitter, or turning on the news, it goes without saying that your business should not be adding another layer on top of these already very stressful times. Which is why your investment into a post-pandemic-digital-solution should be smart, relative to your company or businesses context, and always be leaning towards achieving what's in the best interest for your customers.
Look from point 1 to 4 again if you're unsure where to start.
Stay safe. Stay Positive. Keep Support Each Other.