At some point COVID will be relegated to the same level of concern the flu gets every year. It won’t shutter businesses, alter family celebrations, and be the fuel behind contentious court cases.
Let’s pretend we’re there now.
There are certain conveniences (and necessities) that businesses adapted during COVID that customers have become accustomed to. So, if you’re making plans for a “return to normal” you may just want to reevaluate what that looks like based on your customers’ newly developed expectations.
Delivery and Curbside Pick-up
Whether you serve food or sell non-edible items, people have become accustomed to sitting in their cars (or at home) and receiving their goods. Customers love the convenience, the fact that they can come as they are and not worry about what they look like, and can run errands more efficiently.
Delivery and curbside pick-up also save money (even with delivery fees and tips) when it comes to ordering items like groceries because it cuts down on impulse buys. To ensure they spend more, you’ll want to use an ordering system (or person answering the phone, if you take orders that way), that makes suggestions that they may also enjoy. Don’t miss the opportunity for upsells.
Working from Home
Many businesses that initially allowed working from home are calling people back in at the time of this writing. But in a highly competitive employment market, where there are more openings than interested applicants, you may want to think twice about requiring full-time in-office only work.
There are many cost savings in allowing employees to work from home. You may even be able to downsize your office space. And there may still be those people who want in-person work arrangements but not everyone will.
Don’t feel like you must decide between home or office. The best answer for your business may be a hybrid result.
If you weren’t selling online before you probably are now. But even service providers who may have found it difficult to sell online upped their video, podcast, and content marketing strategies for greater online success.
If you embraced more digital marketing activities, keep it up. If you still haven’t, it’s (past) time. People want to interact with you at their convenience—and sometimes that’s after you’ve gone home for the day. Keep your business open (to them) with more online channels.
Giving People Options
We’re still working through this business lesson, but one thing that keeps surfacing throughout COVID is the idea that opinions should be respected and options should be given. No one appreciates being given orders, whether they are for their own good or not. Innovative businesses need to find ways to connect with customers on their terms. This is not a mask or no mask/vaccine or no vaccine debate. Those are details. This is about larger employment or customer rights.
Arguments over freedoms versus safety have brought up a lot of interesting discussions. Businesses should expect that while the details may change, the larger question about decisions and rights will echo well into the future. College courses will someday be taught on the subject. Innovative business owners may want to consider how these types of conversations will shape their organizations in the future from who they hire to what they request of them, from who they target from a marketing perspective to how they reach them.
COVID changed what we valued and took for granted. It has also altered business in many ways. Some ways are obvious, while others will become conversations that will continue far into the future.
What will you continue when COVID is but a memory?
Christina Metcalf (formerly Green) is a marketer and writer who enjoys using the power of story to help businesses. Christina also assists business and chamber professionals to find the right words when they don’t have the time—or interest—to do so. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook.