The world is constantly changing, bringing new demands that organisations must meet to satisfy the needs of their audience. Recent events have shown the extent of the unpredictability we are all living with and highlighted the true cost of not being prepared to adapt to the unknown.
What was unimaginable just a year ago is now our reality. The way in which we complete many everyday tasks has dramatically transformed. For example, the pandemic has infiltrated every aspect of the simple process of going to buy groceries: how we travel there, how often we go, what we buy, what measures of hygiene we take, how we communicate with others.
Within 2020 we have seen how certain business processes can go from irrelevant to crucial overnight, and vice versa. Take working from home: what was once an optional luxury is now essential for most companies. The act of social distancing – practically unheard of by most – has become commonplace.
Every aspect of society has been impacted, forcing organisations to introduce alternative methods of completing activities – many of which are online. It’s likely that much of this could remain the same even after the crisis.
As a result, the value of an organisation can be determined by how it acts when sudden disaster hits and its ability to draw on strength and resources in order to stay relevant.
All businesses have been impacted in some way as a result of the pandemic – whether good or bad. Regardless, it has completely transformed the way we interact with colleagues, employees, suppliers and customers.
Here are three best practices on how businesses can set up the ideal conditions to adapt to change.
The pandemic has shown that resilient businesses have a better chance of survival. It’s a given that digital competence is crucial, but the sudden embracing of its power made necessary by the virus has caused a revaluation into what it really means to be connected.
Whether that’s providing employees with the right resources to work effectively from home, enhancing communication channels for customers, or using modern technology to improve the efficiency of supply chains. Those who have been able to quickly transition to online, or harnessed the advantage of already thriving digitally, demonstrate that it is no longer feasible to run the majority of businesses purely offline.
Online video conferencing tools such as Zoom are a prime example of the way in which technology has been able to support the demand for remote activities. Collaboration with employees is the most obvious purpose, however the platform has also enabled people to stay in contact with loved ones despite physical distance, by giving them a space to host quizzes or parties using integrated features such as polls and screen sharing.
Countless apps have been invented to identify coronavirus symptoms and take remedial actions, assisting the public in continuing with their daily lives as well as possible during the pandemic. Even TikTok has played its part in keeping fans entertained by enabling them to watch and upload fun videos whilst confined to the safety of their homes.
In short, it’s essential to build sustainable digital foundations to enable your business to adapt more quickly and support growth in the future.
Business processes that were used under previously ‘normal’ circumstances may now be outdated. The opportunity brought about by change, however, can be used to see the world in new ways.
It’s easier said than done, but try not to get stuck in old ways of thinking. Just because something isn’t broken, it doesn’t mean you should avoid fixing (or updating) it.
Start by evaluating the processes and technology you already have, regardless of how successful they are, to see if they are still relevant in the current climate.
This isn’t a one-off exercise either. Society’s rules change constantly, so businesses need to be flexible and dynamic in order to evolve around them; especially at the moment, when every week is bringing a unique set of challenges. Continue revaluating and innovating to ensure you are keeping up with the pace.
More importantly, if you find a process area that could be improved to serve modern requirements, don’t be afraid to update it! The willingness to reimagine how your business works could unlock ideas with the potential to influence positive reaction to change, rather than waiting for change to force you to update.
For instance, when lockdown measures were introduced in certain locations, triggering the major shift to online, the importance of having a digital assistant (chatbot) to cope with increasing amounts of customer inquiries became clear for many businesses. Organisations with customer service systems that worked perfectly before, now required a solution to reduce the high volumes of calls that were reaching human operators. By implementing digital assistants to automate these processes, companies were able to reduce the pressure on contact centre agents, whilst boosting response rates to customer queries. Businesses could also take advantage of the other benefits that digital assistants bring, such as operating outside of typical working hours so that customers don’t have to wait for help.
It’s not just about making old processes better either; sometimes introducing a totally new approach is the only way to satisfy your users’ needs. Perhaps your business now requires a travel approval system, which wasn’t necessary before but has quickly become imperative to cope with the unexpected challenge of inter-country movement during a pandemic. By immediately picking up on this process gap and accommodating it with a practical solution, efficiency and productivity within your teams are unlikely to be hindered as a result.
In summary, innovating around your business processes can drive you to rapidly change direction and offer updated, current solutions to the problems being faced by your stakeholders.
By staying in tune with the needs of your customers, employees and suppliers, you will be prepared to support them when they need it most.
Don’t ignore contemporary times and culture, either. Assess trends that could potentially have a big impact on your audiences; analyse what they are looking at, which way they perceive it and, ultimately, how it makes them feel.
This is not a new concept, but one that has suddenly become a top priority and should be undertaken frequently. The product or service your business offers, as well as the message and tone you use to promote it, must be adapted to include everyone. Stay a step ahead by capturing feedback and proactively channelling this into enriching user experiences – and when asked for help, work with users to solve the problem.
One example highlighting the positive outcome when an organisation listens to its customers, is of a large hotel chain that saw the need to create a modern guest experience. Through feedback, the company recognised that customers don’t want to be weighed down by carrying belongings around with them during their stay, such as card keys or wallet. In response, the hotel established a new system where a single digital bracelet leveraging the Internet of Things (IoT) could be used to complete such tasks.
Due to the effects of the pandemic, shoppers are spending much longer periods of time online, so investing in upgrading your website or e-commerce platform could increase value for your business.
Amidst all the uncertainty, consumers want to be given clear instructions. When booking a holiday, they want to know if they will get a refund due to a cancellation if the situation is out of their hands.
People respect the transparency that comes with honest announcements and updates, and in return will devote their confidence and trust to the organisations that get it right. In an environment where not all guidance is clearly understood, it’s important to ensure that there is no ambiguity for your customers, employees and suppliers.
Essentially, actively listening to your users and adapting quickly will allow your business to gain a positive reputation for meeting its audience’s best interests, encouraging you to build stronger relationships that will eventually lead to better engagement.
Oracle Consulting are here to help you adapt in these changing times. Our consultants are experts that will work with you to help achieve your desired business outcomes, including building the ideal digital foundations, supporting process changes and evaluating user experience and market trends.
We are here to help.