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COVID-19: Business Implications from a COO Perspective

By April 10, 2020 No Comments

One of the most surprising aspects of the COVID-19 crisis to me is the speed at which our world has been forced to change direction.  While the virus has affected masses of people at varying degrees of sickness, one thing has been apparent – fear and uncertainty can be a very disruptive force.  While infections are currently a small part of our total population, the changes in how we work and move forward throughout 2020 and beyond have been dramatic. While we all have taken some measure to limit the spread, Nexxtep has been evaluating from a technical perspective what changes will possibly be permanent and how businesses can take advantage of these changes in their workforce.   

From an economic impact perspective, large-scale quarantines, travel restrictions and social distancing measures may drive a sharp fall in consumer and business spending in Q2 of this year.  However, I think that by reacting to this crisis as a short-term problem with an end in sight, smart business decisions will pay off once this epidemic has passed.  At Nexxtep, we break up the reaction during this crisis into three major pieces – Workforce Protection, Service & Supply Chain Management and Customer Engagement.   

Workforce Protection 

Our priority at Nexxtep and probably every other business, is the health and safety of our employees while also maintaining a somewhat normal level of service for our clients. Our workforce is our number one asset so as we transition to a work at home strategy to help prevent the spread, several items must be in place. 

  • Policy and Management – While working from home – businesses must understand that their employees are still under attack from a security prospective.  Every business needs to have a work at home policy in place along with the appropriate security monitoring software in place. 
  • Workplace Communication – The single most stressful issue with working from home is the inability to communicate efficiently.  Tools such as Slack, Microsoft Teams or Zoom are critical to allow staff to be productive.  Video conferencing also allows for a more connected experience during quarantine.   
  • Workplace Tiering – Note that not all employees can work from home.  Depending on your workplace, some employees can remain at your facility and segregate into smaller groups or stagger shifts. 

If your business needs help your remote work force, please click here and let us know how we can help. 

Service & Supply Chain Management  

As businesses around the world shut down, supply chains become an issue.  At Nexxtep, hardware such as laptops and servers are becoming more difficult to procure in a short time. 

With these challenges in place we look to the following for service and supply chain stabilization: 

  • Inventory Management – Now is the time to take inventory of existing products and also fine tune your inventory systems.  Development of reports and dashboards to get the right information out of your systems are key right now.   
  • Product and Service Optimization – determine during this time if products and services are optimized for upcoming demand.  With an opportunity to “breathe”, we now have the ability to slow down and decide what and where our products are placed.  I believe new products and services are born out of necessity. 

We can help with development projects / inventory reports etc. 

Ascend can help with product launches and changes via communication and website efforts. 

Customer Engagement 

Everyone, including your customers, are suddenly focused on this pandemic. We believe that now is the time to adjust customer experiences to better serve your customer during this time.  Many of the specifics vary by industry, but here are the three essentials that every organization should prioritize. 

Empathy — Understand Your Customers in This Moment 

Surveys alone are not enough in this situation. To build the customer understanding required, you should invest in live conversations now. 

  • Direct every employee to look for ways to make your clients’ business processes flow easier. 
  • Be proactive!  

Adapt Your Customer Service 

Understand that aspects of your customer experiences you’ve been delivering that may have been perfect a few weeks ago, may not work now. 

  • Critically review the services and support you are delivering. 
  • Hit the pause button where needed. 
  • Prioritize simplicity more than ever. 

Help Your Employees Deliver Awesome Service Despite the Crisis 

Understand that many employees at this point are anxiousWhether it’s IT staff working around the clock to help the entire workforce be productive from home or front-line customer service representatives explaining supply chain issues to customers. Whatever their role in your company, this is a unique moment for them.  Just remember the following: 

  • Employees face uncertainty and anxiety, too. 
  • Customers in crisis drive up the stress level for employees 
  • Communicate and remain positive. 

My advice is to focus on actions in your business that you can control.  Take time to evaluate “how you have always done it” and see if changes can be made. I firmly believe that a strong focus on business basics and customer service most businesses will come out of this crisis stronger than ever before.   

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