Digital businesses might not be the first industry you think of when considering COVID-19-related changes. However, there are many areas where companies of all types have had to embrace shifting perspectives, immediate concerns, and long-term thinking.
In spring 2020, the U.S. Census Bureau began conducting surveys of small business owners and releasing weekly pulse survey reports. Their January report looked at the hopes entrepreneurs have for their businesses in the coming months. Although outlook varies by industry, a mere 15 percent of retail respondents had an unfavorable view. The others either felt they’d recover in a few months or had experienced no difference.
What makes the difference between companies surviving in a post-pandemic world and shuttering their doors? Here are eight ways you should conduct your digital business operations to ensure you make it through to the other side.
8 Tips for Improving Business Operations in a Post-Pandemic World
1. See the Big Picture.
It’s easy to get bogged down in what’s happening at the given moment. However, things pass. People get vaccinated, the number of cases lessens, and people get back to living their lives. You must be able to look forward six months to a year with realistic expectations.
It’s smart to remain frugal and keep some emergency funds in reserve at all times, but don’t assume a singular event changed life for all time.
The ways coronavirus impacted your business will be different than how it affected others. Take a step back and look at everything from a fresh perspective that considers where you’ll be in six months, two years, or 10 years.
2. Prevent Cyber Attacks.
With more people at home, hackers have the extra time necessary to try to steal data. Various government studies show business owners are taking steps to prevent breaches. Thanks to rules such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), you may be on the hook if you don’t take steps to protect customer information.
As a digital business, you might be a bit more vulnerable. Make sure your virus protection is top-notch, train employees to recognize phishing attempts, and keep software updated. The last thing businesses need right now is lost revenue due to cybercriminals.
3. Adopt a Remote Workforce.
No matter what kind of business you run, at least some of your workforce is likely remote right now. Think about the benefits of staying remote where it makes sense. Can your marketing department do excellent work from home?
You’ll reduce costs and gain access to the top candidates in your industry. Having fewer workers in-office means you need a smaller space, which will cost you less to operate. People may give up other perks for the benefit of working from home too. Think through just how much you can save and the best ways to keep your team connected.
4. Encourage Employees to Learn New Skills.
People have socialized less and scaled back on entertainment. They’ve also had more time to learn new skills. If you want to keep up in a post-pandemic world, you must change your mindset to constant learning.
Which online courses might enhance what you already do? Encourage your staff to take classes, gain a new perspective, and try something outside the box of normal digital business operations.
5. Focus on User Experience (UX).
Only 55 percent of companies currently conduct user experience (UX) testing. Since your competitors may ignore the importance of UX, you have an opportunity to surge ahead of the competition.
Take the time to ensure you offer the best customer experience. Their time on your website and interacting with your business should be seamless and stress free.
6. Consider Customer Priorities.
In a perfect world, we’d like to think things will return to where they were before the pandemic reached our shores. In real life, people’s priorities may be much different than before coronavirus lockdowns.
Consumers think harder about where they spend their money. They may also be concerned about safety issues. Even when the COVID-19 threat lessens, concerns over similar viruses or mutations may linger.
Think about ways you can put your customers at ease. If you ship products, how do you protect them in the process? If you only offer digital goods, what steps are in place to keep your workers safe?
7. Delight and Retain Your Customers.
One of the keys to getting through hard times is keeping the customers you have while seeking new ones. Loyal customers are likely to share with others what they like about your business. People are much more likely to buy based on the recommendations of family and friends.
Have you heard of the Pareto Principle? It estimates 80 percent of your profits come from 20 percent of your customers. Simply put, repeat business impacts your revenue.
8. Develop Resilience.
Another noticeable shift in business operations concerns preparation. Before, owners used a just-in-time approach where businesses reacted as events happened. Now, management has more of a just-in-case philosophy. Companies now look at potential issues and prepare for them in advance.
Digital businesses must look ahead to changing technology. What trends are on the uptick, and how do they stand to directly impact your business model in the next five years?
Audit Your Current Business Operations
If you want to seek success in a post-pandemic world, you must audit your current business operations from the ground up. Things that worked in the past may no longer serve your interests.
Redo your buyer personas as your customers’ attitudes and priorities shift. Think about ways to improve your processes and keep things flowing smoothly no matter what happens externally, and you’ll grow even during challenges.
Eleanor Hecks is editor-in-chief at Designerly Magazine. She was the creative director at a prominent digital marketing agency prior to becoming a full-time freelance designer. Eleanor lives in Philadelphia with her husband and pup, Bear.