The COVID-19 pandemic turned our world and way of life in a matter of weeks. Our social customs, travel plans, dining, entertainment, and work were completed disrupted, forcing us to adapt to these changes in real-time. The unknown has caused panic and great stress in our society and everyone has been trying to learn how to live in this "new normal" one day at a time.
For businesses, this too is new territory. CEO's, COO's, managers, partners, and owners have been inventing alternative ways to operate their businesses and reimagine their brands to avoid interruption, or even worse, loss.
Most office-based businesses have directed their personnel to work from home while figuring out how to operate effectively in this manner. And most businesses never thought to have an emergency plan that addressed what to do in the middle of a pandemic.
For those businesses currently transitioning into work-from-home operations, our CEO and Chief Strategy Officer, Wágner dos Santos, recently offered some useful tips in an article published in the Orlando Business Journal. Over a year ago, The Wagner Agency began offering teleworking options to its team and eventually made it a part of its work culture, allowing for a larger pool of talent to be recruited globally in lieu of local limitations.
We believe that the impact of this pandemic will stay with us for years to come and our many social customs and business practices will be forever changed. But that's not necessarily a bad thing. Change often provides us with an opportunity to innovate. Out of crisis comes opportunity.
So what can you do if your business model can't function as a work-at-home operation? Here are just some ideas to consider by industry.
Banking + Financial Services
The banking and financial services industries have been experiencing a shift toward digitally preferred banking and account management options for a few years now, especially on mobile. This is an opportunity for banks and financial institutions to shift resources toward the online banking side and provide extra support personnel working home, to help those customers not accustomed to managing their financial affairs online.
What may seem like a temporary solution may turn into an operational change that your customers will undoubtably embrace.
CPG, Food Production and Beverages
The images we have all seen of empty shelves and completely barren aisles at your favorite grocery stores, left many citizens in panic and fear. Not only from the apocalyptic resemblance but also because consumers felt certain that there would be shortages on essential items and that the supply would be unable to meet the demand. While the consumer packaged goods, food production, and beverage industries ramped up production and labor in order to produce and package their products at a higher volume per second, your consumers weren't aware of this. That was a missed opportunity for brands to renew consumer trust by not only meeting the demands but also strategically messaging this through smart marketing and advertising.
Another idea to consider is the creation of pop-up stores and mobile stores (think food truck meets retail store on wheels). This serves a dual purpose. You could deliver your products directly to consumers within their communities and protect them from having to go into crowded stores.
Thankfully e-learning has been evolving and growing in popularity over the years. Additionally, it has gained greater respect as a legitimate educational system. For those already running e-learning and virtual schools, you are ahead of the game and now is the time to really push your advertising and marketing message to all the students out there who are new to this method of education. For educators who have not yet integrated the tools necessary to teach their curriculum online by leveraging the cloud, there are still some tools that can be implemented with ease. One of those are cloud-based video conferencing programs such as Zoom or BlueJeans.
Information Technology and Services
This is the time to focus on managed services, cloud-based systems, and remote support. Thanks to the advancement of cloud-powered technology, I.T., professionals can provide their clients with excellent services without ever having to step foot into their business. And after all, I.T. is more about preventative solutions and maintenance problems and less about making repair calls. Additionally, voice over IP (VoIP) companies such as Joon, provide softphone apps that run on any Android or iOS smartphone with all of the features of a traditional desk phone and more.
Law Firms + Legal Services
Virtual law firms practicing eLawyering have existed for years. Just as it sounds, A Virtual Law Office, or VLO, is an online law practice that exists through a secure log-in portal and can be accessed by both client and attorney securely.
VLO's can serve their clients just as efficiently as long as their clients have access to an Internet connection.
Consider utilizing tools like Zoom and BlueJeans to conduct video conferencing and screen sharing and Joon Softphone to take your business phone with you in the form of a phone app. While court appearances may be less likely during this time, you should have more time to prepare in advance of any court filings or trials. Virtual law firms have been trending over the years successfully.
Virtual services are the best alternative to consider when in-person visits are not possible. Using a variety of video-conferencing software and apps can assist in some basic follow-ups. For social workers, psychologists, and therapists, insurance companies are recognizing video sessions during this uncertain period.
Restaurants + Bars
One of the hardest-hit industries has been restaurants and bars. The obvious solution for restaurants is to increase their take-out and delivery business. But for staff and bars, that's not as easy. However, some establishments have used some creativity such as selling branded merchandise with 100% of the proceeds going to the servers and tip-based staff.
Thanks to the Amazon Effect, retailers have seen a shift in shopper behavior over the last several years. Online shopping has become easier to use and adoption has grown exponentially. Amazon's annual revenue of approximately $300 billion, is proof of this.
Traditional brick-and-mortar retailers have noticed that their stores have turned into showrooms where customers visit to experience the products and then compare prices online at home. This is a perfect opportunity to embrace the online economy and direct your retail customers to your eCommerce store. There is some data to support that online shopping has seen a drastic increase over the last few weeks.
For many sports enthusiasts, not being able to watch their favorite sporting events because of some league suspensions, is a major disappointment. Many leagues have aired past games and highlights with some playing under strict quarantining rules and no spectators. But there are some other ideas to consider as well. One is to increase awareness of eSports. There are nearly 400 million participants and spectators around the world yet it's a new concept to many. While the world is spending more time at home than ever before, eSports has a captive new audience to attract.
Travel + Tourism
The travel and tourism industry has been one of hardest hit. So what can destinations do when no one is traveling? This is an opportunity to stay "top of mind" with travelers while practicing sensitivity in marketing and advertising message.
Some innovative ideas that can be implemented during this time include the use of augmented reality and virtual reality. Share the experience you offer through AR or VR environments so that users can enjoy some of these experiences that are currently out of reach for them. When this crisis passes, and it will, you will be able to attract them to the real experience and in real-time.
Businesses that are willing to look forward and embrace the new normal have the ability to succeed. There will be innovation and reinvention. But businesses must evolve to survive. The pandemic just happened to force our evolution into hyperdrive.