By the end of May, all 50 states had provided guidelines for businesses to reopen their doors. And it’s happening at an opportune moment. A Washington Post poll found that eight out of ten people unemployed due to the coronavirus feel optimistic about being rehired by their employer.
And, according to experts, the economy gained 2.5 million jobs in May, the first time it has added jobs since February. But as people return to work, what lies in store for them?
In this three-part series, we’ve used the Salesforce Response Plan as a guide to help stabilize your business during these unsettling times and take measures to help reopen your doors. As we move toward the third stage of the Salesforce Response Plan—business growth—our focus must shift to the new normal in business, which emphasizes well-defined goals, work culture, and optimizing the customer’s journey.
In this final stage, let’s explore the importance of transparency and well-defined goals on an organization’s survival and the impact an employee-focused, customer-centric strategy can have on growth.
1. Capitalize on transparency and a goal-oriented vision.
Let’s be honest. Your employees–if not the entire business world– witnessed the company at its most vulnerable point. During these uncertain times, your work culture took center stage, displaying how your executive team handled employee transitioning or choosing to furlough staff. Now, as many former employees hope to return to work, use transparency as you move toward reopening and restructuring business strategies.
For example, at Salesforce, a V2MOM playbook communicates the company’s goals, starting with the CEO’s vision of how to move forward and passing through the hands of every employee. A V2MOM Playbook stands for Vision, Values, Methods, Obstacles, and Measures. Marc Benioff designed the tool to keep Salesforce aligned with business goals and to ensure employees were clear on job responsibilities and contributions to the workplace. This one-page statement is reviewed and updated often and serves as a vehicle for employee feedback and discussion.
The V2MOM Playbook is one of many ways to face these corporate crossroads. This venture into a new workspace requires, in most cases, an uncharted way of thinking. Examining where your company stands on company culture, the working environment, and how it plans to build relationships with an evolving customer are two fundamental places to start.
2. Establish an employee-focused, flexible working environment.
Experts predict that many companies who turned to remote work environments during the transition will likely retain those arrangements. “Our best estimate predicts that 25 to 30 percent of the workforce will be working from home multiple days a week by the end of 2021,” says Kate Lister, president of Global Workplace Analytics.
To sustain an inclusive and productive work culture, a change in terminology is one way to navigate an evolving workplace. “The primary response to this shift is to re-frame our thinking, we are not working from home; instead this is distributed working,” says Shaheena Janjuha-Jirrag. Remote work alludes to a centralized destination where remote workers may not feel relevant.
“By consciously adopting a distributed working approach, leaders need to move beyond policy and outputs to understand how culture and practice are adapting and how it needs to be strengthened,” explained Zabeen Hirji, former Chief Human Resource Officer for Royal Bank Canada.
Now you can focus on creating a global work environment that will respond to sharing feedback, building up a new feeling of community, and develop opportunities for lifelong learning. “Your company culture is how you’ll build a path forward,” said The Salesforce COVID-19 Response Team. “Optimize for productivity while building an environment of learning, community, and wellness. Now’s the time to be more friendly toward remote and flexible work options.”
3. Create processes around the customer’s needs.
Organizations were already moving toward customer-centricity before the onset of COVID-19. Now it’s an essential part of building (and keeping) relationships. What does it mean to be customer-centric? Think of it as being customer-obsessed. Will this product meet the needs of the customer? What more do they want? How could we make this buyer’s experience more amazing? How can we ensure they come back to our brand and bring their friends with them? What your customer wants is simple. . . and tricky.
Almost half (40 percent) of consumers prefer self-service tools to handle their own customer service issues over human contact. And 75 percent of people surveyed said that faster response times was the most important attribute of the customer experience.
But weighing a personal connection against a customer’s seemingly insatiable need for speed–don’t you need both? “As customer care evolves, I believe there will always be a need for the human factor,” said Kim Georgeton, managing director of Commerce and Marketing Cloud at Simplus. And by blending automated self-service tools with an empathetic, customer-focused sales team, you create a seamless customer experience that people want.
The current times have certainly brought its share of challenges, but amid the changes are opportunities to reimagine business strategies that elevate your company’s brand through a flexible work environment, culture, and customer-centricity.