While a fair number of people face unemployment and, in turn, a lot more time on their hands, many turn to forgotten hobbies such as meditation, knitting or scraping booking. As the person giving the news that your employees are getting furloughed for maybe the second during this next wave, your priority is staying afloat.
As a business owner, much time is probably spent worrying about how a business will survive in a world overrun by the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. As each industry welcomed businesses reopening and now reclosing, it’s essential to know how to regain pre-COVID19 market footing within that industry to ensure everyone hits the ground comfortably strolling instead of breathlessly sprinting.
More businesses are equipping themselves with the means to provide contactless services, which will prove mutually beneficial for a very long time to both their customers and their safety. Employees will be able to work from home, and businesses will hopefully retain customers if they know where to start implementing the changes.
Wherever possible, employees choose to work remotely as they continue to self-quarantine and rearrange their priorities around their daily ‘new normal.’ Platforms like Zoom prove invaluable in the case of communicating with clients and continuing to do business. Friday afternoon wine sessions in the office are now held from home in a suit jacket and sweatpants. We adapt.
Empathy is Essential
Business owners and employers are not the only people feeling the financial strain the pandemic and other crises have brought about worldwide. Worries around job security, paying bills, affording necessities, relationship strain, adapting to a different way of living, health, and now a new level of staying safe has meant people’s interests have shifted in a way that implies everything has to change to accommodate this ‘new life,’ or risk losing income.
We think listening to customers should be the main priority. In the past, desires may have reflected being interested in the latest release from a shoe brand. People are now swiping right on knowing how their health and safety will be preserved moving forward.
Common trends show an uptick in positive customer experience where businesses continue providing means to stay safe such as hand sanitizer and continuous cleaning of public spaces (have you seen how dirty the buttons on the espresso machine at work are? Yikes). Providing information that aligns with listening to what customers need to know and need in place from businesses will jumpstart the move to uncovering newfound successes.
Employees = everything
At the same time, we think listening to employees is just as important. Without employees and customers, you have no business. Without a company, you have no money. With no money, you have no pizza delivered to the office every Friday for lunch, and that is a sad, sad reality that we don’t want to deal with.
It’s imperative to listen to whatever support employees may need now and to start doing the utmost to provide it. Showing care and empathy soon while addressing needs will ensure everyone survives the crisis better. Employees returning to offices likely expect the same as customers in terms of hygiene and safety, which means spraying everyone who enters the building in the face with a sanitizer, like some fantastic maître d’Purell – not just the customers and clients.
Similarly, listening out for what potential customers want and need could mean more actual customers. Actively and empathically listening entails considering how a service that a business provides could be what someone is looking for where they haven’t been able to find it anywhere else. We encourage business owners to take a look at their offerings and identify the unicorns among the donkeys (no offense to donkeys though). The uniqueness of an original concept and service is what will set someone apart from the rest here – give customers a great experience, and you’re set. Find out how you could improve your existing offering to cater to the needs people are expressing.
Finally, keep your listening channels open. With these three groups in mind, you can develop a strategy using the knowledge gained from feedback expressed by each group. Empathy and following through on requests are what will guarantee success as you attempt to get back to business as usual – in usual times.
What is vital to the survival of both businesses and having employees return happily after the second wave? Continuing to listen with empathy. Each employer’s goal should be to have employees still serve with vigor, which is achieved through continually checking in with them and helping out – this means more than once a year at an annual review.
Listen actively and find solutions instead of just hearing people. Learn the skills to communicate your wants, needs, and fears. Think of this time as the ‘getting to know each other’ stage, except without the holding hands.