In the last few weeks, we have witnessed dramatic stock market swings, governmental actions and WHO announcements all related to the expansion of COVID-19 to pandemic status. Needless to say, the turbulence is unsettling to us all. While the reality is that these events have had or will have an impact on business as well as what we do in our lives outside of work, I want to share a message of hope and positivity.
Conducting Business In Turbulent Times
I have worked through, sold through, and built companies through several market ‘booms’ and ‘busts’. One thing that is certain is that every ‘boom’ is followed by a slow down or ‘bust’, and every ‘bust’ is followed by another ‘boom’ of growth. As the market and world economy adjusts to the turbulence around COVID-19 – which it will – we should take all of the recommended precautions to safeguard our people and communities in the near term to build confidence in our teams. And we can all help induce a sense of normality by persevering − living our lives, running our businesses, and delivering value to our customers even as some of our business practices are altered.
How Should We Adjust Our Businesses in "Business-Not-As-Usual" Times Like These?
Here’s my advice: Stay connected with your teams and your customers alike. This is now your number one priority. Here are a few suggestions on how to open these lines of communication:
- Be open and honest with your employees, partners, vendors, and customers about necessary changes to the way you normally conduct business. Explain the “why” as much as the “what” regarding any policy or change.
- Be willing to adopt new, even if temporary, policies, such as work-from-home scenarios and virtual meetings vs. face-to-face gatherings. Some of this may be unconventional to your company’s practices or culture. Be open to adaptation. Certainly respect your customers’ requirements around remote meetings in this interim period.
- Be understanding and patient. Listen to the concerns of your employees and be willing to make exceptions to what would normally fall outside of company policies, travel rules, etc.
- Guide your customer-facing employees to be prepared for unconventional calls and interactions, and train them on new ways to connect with callers who may be in heightened states of emotion. Have them study up on positive, empathetic language to utilize and reinforce best practices for call center agents.
- Find out how, if at all, you can help. Sometimes it’s just to listen. Make sure your workforce is continually looking for new ways to help customers, and be prepared to pivot quickly to meet new customer needs. You never know… it could lead to something great!
As you reach out to your internal and external audiences, show your human side and your empathy for everyone’s situation, and seek ways to continue to be successful. We are all in this together!