We’ve come a long way since the early days of the pandemic. With once hard-hit countries like Italy now reopening to European travelers, and American states from coast-to-coast easing stay-at-home orders, the opportunity for small business to get back on its feet is quickly approaching.
Much like the shift to remote work defined the early months of 2020, the rest of the year will pose a separate challenge: Companies must now learn how to return to business against the backdrop of a new normal.
You already know some of the ways your business is likely to shift, whether it’s an expansion in your e-commerce supply, a focus on new products, or entirely new services added to meet demand during the quarantine. There are, however, some key ways to retain and expand your customer base that are worth keeping in mind no matter your industry. Here are a few ways to boost your thinking as we move into a new era of work.
Employees may be settling back into consistent routines, with a lucky few even returning to their offices. That doesn’t mean, however, that it’s back to the regular 9-5, nor should we expect work schedules to be what they once were.
Remote work is one of the few silver linings employees have discovered as a result of the coronavirus. It’s estimated that two-fifths of employees are likely to keep working remotely even after the pandemic ends, on top of the roughly 30% who were already working remotely at least part-time.
The benefits of remote work have been noted consistently throughout this crisis. For employers, it means fewer overhead costs and higher productivity, with remote workers adding the equivalent of three weeks of work per year compared to their in-office counterparts. And with more and more tasks able to be completed from anywhere, many employers are happy to hire workers in different time zones, or to offer their local employees more flexibility so long as the work gets done.
To meet this new way of working, your business needs a 24/7 support staff. You may have clients close to your timezone who hire freelancers and even full-time employees half the world over. Even local clients can find themselves working outside of normal business hours, particularly when homeschooling and other personal life issues take precedence at a moment’s notice.
There are a few simple ways to implement wider customer support staff in time for your big reopening. AI chatbot implementations are a consistent trend; however, the best results come from live support, which is still the preferred way for customers to interact with customer service. Expect an influx of new queries as your business model, hours, and mission evolve in response to reopening. For most businesses, this means taking an omnichannel approach to customer service, utilizing multiple different channels in meeting your customers’ needs.
Spoil Your Clients
Let’s not mince words: These are difficult times for governments, businesses, and consumers alike. The global trend toward reopening offers a fresh chance to grow sustainably and with the support of your closest allies. There’s a strong desire to do this ‘right’ – but what does that even entail?
For starters, try reaching out to the clients you’ve valued most with good news. This doesn’t have to be a free month of services or other financial incentives, but an update on your relaunch and a personal invitation to return can go a long way.
As you get back off the ground, consider what type of products or services you’ll offer to show how you’re moving forward in the new normal. Other businesses are struggling to adapt to office social distancing and sanitization, as well as disruption caused by increased remote work. If you can showcase how your company can help with these issues, you’re on the way toward more prominent success as the pandemic subsides.
Leading by example remains the best way to allay the uncertainty of both your customers and your employees. You can leverage or overhaul your social media presence to keep clients informed on what you’re doing and how you’re handling the latest challenges. It can take time to get your business back off the ground after an event of this scale, but moving forward relies on taking that first step – and the right communication to keep your best customers close by.
Eric Schurke is the VP Operations at VoiceNation.
Re open stock photo by Chansom Pantip/Shutterstock