The COVID Challenge – Change & Choice.
There are no certainties right now. The following are some of the only certainties as I see them; 2020 is the year we will
never forget, we have no control on the challenge today, we have all had to reassess our priorities (professionally and
personally), we are living in a new norm.
March 2020 is a month that will go down in the history books. We were hit with what has been most definitely the biggest
unforeseen challenge globally.
It has been a challenging time for every single one of us, in business and in our personal lives. There is no one on the planet
that it has not touched in some way.
Since March we have been working t support business continuity in the simplest and tuest sense; getting back to basics while helping businesses to engage with new ways of working. We all suffered losses.
We have never worked as hard. It has never been as challenging. Here at Bofin Consultancy it has been a huge juggling challenge but, ironically, it has never been as rewarding to see people and businesses plan with the challenge and make changes and decisions that are needed for business continuity.
Yes. we are seeing the very tangible and incredible struggles that clients are facing, we are also seeing some clients overcoming, evolving and doing new business in a new way.
We believe in meeting everything halfway(if possible!!) or head on and push ing on through to work over, under or around a challenge. It does not always work but if we don’t try then we will never know. We have a plan that can change, and we have to make the biggest effort to strive. We have to push through beyond challenges.
In the last 6 months, business owners have had to make the hard decisions, they have faced incredible challenges, they have had to really dig deep and muster every ounce of their mental and physical strength. Business owners and managers are still mustering the strength and will need to continue to do so in a completly new marketplace with completly new factors and conditions to work around.
Change is never easy but without it things stay the same. Let’s note some points that may help you work through the challange.
1. Continue to Communicate Care
Communication is always important and right now, it is more important than ever. Lets’ be more definitive. The right type of communication is what is important. It does not need to be complicated or longwinded. You need to communicate with your staff, your clients, your community, these are your people.
Businesses need to continue to connect and interact, be present. When you are communicating it is important to reassure and remind staff, clients and community that you are still here, you are taking due care and you are ready to work and serve your customers.
Communication is connecting with people. It is letting them know you are there and that you care. Reach out to your clients and business contacts, offer support, find out how they are doing, be there, reach across the social distance, we are genuinely all in this together. Your people, clients, community and staff will stay with you and remember you simply because you connected and you cared.
2. Customer Service Counts
We are a client centric business. Customer service is something I will not compromise on; it counts every day in my business and it counts in every business.
Customer service is something I am passionate about. Now more than ever every business, whether it is a service or a product provider, must ensure that their customer service delivery is authentic, on point and focused.
Ask yourself right now, could our customer service be better? What do we need to do to up our game and be stronger? How do we deliver customer service excellence?
Customer service is something that your business will be recognized known for; if customer service is poor, you will be recognized as a business where customers are not appreciated and considered, if your customer service is excellent, you will also be recognized as a business where customers are valued and appreciated. Which customer service experience do you think your clients/customers want? Which experience will they return for?
Customer service excellence is all about getting the small things right, looking after and acknowledging your contacts and clients. Get the small things right and the bigger picture will come together.
Customer Service sets businesses apart in the marketplace. People do business with people. How you treat your customers is how you deliver your customer service, it is why customers will/will not return to you, it counts every time.
3. Engage with Change & Diversification
Change is inevitable. If things don’t change, they stay the same. COVID19 has encouraged and in some ways has forced change in business. Change is a choice.
I am a firm believer in that there is more than one way to solve a problem. Find the way that works for you. For many of our clients they really have had to square up and face change. For some of our clients it has meant shifting bookings and orders 100% to an online booking channel. For others it has meant developing new revenue routes using resources in their business in a new or different way. Still for others it has meant changing up billing options to maintain cashflow, slower cashflow but it is cashflow.
We have a really good news story related to embracing change in a client company. This client owns and runs a fantastic business. Their business shut down overnight when COVID19 reached our shores and the country was put in lockdown. Uncertainty and panic set in. They asked for help. Business continuity was now the focus and so we set about planning some pivot action points, established a new booking system and an SOP to support this. Fast forward 4 months and their figures for August 2020 have well and truly surpassed their figures for August 2019, this is a business reality for one focused business.
Was this an easy thing for the client to do? The answer is “absolutely not but what was the alternative?”
The process was not an easy one for this client, there was a huge amount of specifics stacked firmly against them and there was risk associated with the new booking system and operationally the COVID care initiative was a little tricky and required a significant investment financially and physically. They had to change how they operated their business and this was probably the biggest change and challenge for the client.
They made both a personal and professional choice. They realized that they needed to plan, act on that plan and focus on changing how they use their resources. It was and will continue to be hard work, it will require consistency and focus but it is this activity that is sustaining this business today for tomorrow.
4. Be open to new ways of doing things.
None of us relish change. As I said earlier, change is never easy, but it is often the thing we need to do to sustain, progress and succeed.
Imagine a world without mobiles? We all had to climatize from the “phone on the wall” to the mobile and look what that has made possible.
Imagine if we did not have the internet and email? We would not have the information or the immediate contact that we have now. All of these arrived in our lives because we made a choice. We choose to embrace change and progress.
Are there things in your business that you need to change? Are there smarter ways of doing the work that you do for the greater good of your business and your customers? Are there tools you need to learn to use that could help you and your business?
5. Seek Support, ask for help in your business
We all have our craft, our skill, that thing we are good at. We all need support in our business from time to time. Hell, we all need help and support in our lives from time to time. We do not know everything, and we cannot solve every problem or overcome every challenge on our own.
Where do you need help in your business? What knowledge or resources would help you right now?
There is help and support out there for businesses. The LEO Network provides mentoring support to businesses nationwide, Intertrade Ireland support their clients too, Skillnets Ireland provide training support options and business networks are inviting business subject matter experts to speak to members. Seek the support and help you need, it is there.
6.Mind yourself – Maintain balance.
Before I go any further, I feel that I should state, I am not qualified in well-being or associated disciplines, the following is based on my own observations and experiences as a business owner and business mentor.
We have seen business owners and managers managing overwhelm, anxiety and stress over the last six months. The uncertainty of what to do, what is around the corner, when will they reopen, all these uncertainties defined their waking days and nights.
The individual who is a business owner or business manager is also a person. For the last six months we have all individually and collectively juggled all kinds of crazy, chaos, uncertainty, homeschooling, the new world of mammies and daddies working from home in tandem, dogs and cats on zoom calls (Yes, this happens!!), embracing technology to continue to work, to continue to stay connected with friends and family.
To continue to work through this challenging time, we need to look after ourselves individually and collectively too. We need to take some time to step away from our businesses physically daily and weekly. This is time to help us clear the cobwebs, clear the decks, quieten the mind and maintain mental strength and clarity. Do you need to take time for you? Take a walk, meditate, go for a run, take time to breathe. We are nothing without well- being, our businesses are nothing without us.
We are dealing with the unprecedented and lets’ face it, some little snippet of certainty would be really welcome right now. It is all beyond our control. For now, lets’ focus on what we can do in our lives. We have very little choice now but accept what we have zero control over.
For now, we need to support and help each other in our businesses. We need to stay social and reach across the distance. We need to be kind to each other and to ourselves. We need to say hello to each other, and we need to do what is right. Our businesses are suffering and are challenged but our health and well-being is more important right now. We need to continue to do the right thing for our businesses, for ourselves and for each other.
“Though times don’t last, Tough People do” ….. Fact!
“You are braver than you belive, and stronger than you seem and smarter than you think.”
Heres’ to overcoming these challenges, breathing easier through these times,
supporting each other and coming out the other side.
Stay safe & stay connected.
Yours in business
Mags Boland Murphy