When people hear post-traumatic stress in the United States, they think of our veterans. There’s a good reason for that: around 20% of combat veterans live with PTSD, a rate at least three times higher than the non-veteran population.
That ratio will be different after this year. The novel coronavirus (and our response to it) is causing trauma now and will likely cause much more before this is behind us. Many have already lost jobs. Some have lost family members. And if our country faces a shortage of healthcare staff and equipment like is being seen in Italy today, nearly everyone who knows a very sick person during this time will experience trauma. Many co-workers, family members, customers and members of our community will need our prayers as well as our financial and emotional support in the coming months.
Even during this pandemic, however, most of us won’t experience trauma. Healthcare workers, restaurants and the travel and hospitality industries are going to be in bad shape, but if members of those industries don’t represent the majority of your customers, most of us will emerge from this emotionally intact.
But that doesn’t mean that the entire world’s recent exposure to uncommonly high levels of fear and stress won’t impact customer needs. And companies that can meet those needs – without taking advantage of people’s emotions – will find new opportunities coming out of this global crisis.
No matter what industry you’re in, here are three things to consider when you’re designing your products or services.
Many business owners have a backup for critical business services. If the phone systems or internet go down, there’s a failover connection. If the power goes out, there are battery backups to keep the servers running until they can be safely shut down. And if an employee is suddenly unable to come in to work, there’s a plan for quickly transitioning those duties to another team member.
But what happens when nobody can show up to work? What happens when you can’t meet any customers, or prospects face to face? What happens when the problem your company solves isn’t top of mind for anyone?
It’s not a problem most people would have considered before 2020. But after this crisis passes and they’ve gotten their affairs back in order, it’s something that’s going to be in the back of their minds for things they buy going forward. Businesses that demonstrate that their products or services will perform even in bad scenarios will earn more goodwill for that extra planning than they would have in 2019.
Plenty of businesses are facing revenue shortfalls right now. Many of them are looking for non-essential services to cut. If a business rents a really fancy coffee machine that nobody is even in the office to use, the owner probably wants to cut that bill for now.
That’s some bad short-term news for the coffee company. If they don’t have the renter stuck in a contract, they’re going to lose out on that revenue. But employees love machines that can make a white mocha latte, and once the economy picks back up, the coffee company will get a phone call from the renter with a request to bring the coffee machine back.
If the coffee company does have the renter stuck in a contract, they’re more likely to get paid over the next several months, although the renter isn’t going to be happy about it. When that contract is up, the coffee company will be picking up the coffee maker from the purchaser’s office – and it won’t be coming back to that office ever again.
Flexible offerings always look better than inflexible ones, but it’s especially true during a recession. The more dire that customer’s situation, the more steamed they’re going to be about having to pay someone (possibly your competitor) for something they aren’t using and can’t use.
If you’re able to take advantage of that opportunity, do it!
As businesses look to cut expenses, the most important question will be “What will cutting this service do to my revenue?”
While reducing expenses generally raises your bottom line, that’s not always the case. If this sounds suspicious, try saving some money by cutting your internet connection – it won’t do great things for your top line or your bottom line.
Expenses that raise revenue are going to be the safest ones in the coming weeks and months. For a transportation company, this would be like the diesel bill. Companies will pay these bills until the day they file for bankruptcy.
Preventative maintenance services are also likely to be safe at companies who aren’t facing major financial problems. These are bills that prevent far larger bills in the future – an area where managed IT services falls. For a transportation company, this would be an oil change. Oil changes cost money. But everyone knows you don’t really save money by skipping oil changes.
Then there’s the other stuff. What if your primary business is selling that transportation company luxurious driver’s seat upgrades? You’ll want to make sure you have good data on how your seats make drivers more productive. It’s also a good idea to branch out into some other products that generate revenue more directly.
For companies that sell to other companies, it’s critical to be able to tie your product to their top line or bottom line right now. For companies that sell to individuals, a product that saves money is more attractive than it once was – and a product that saves time is, on average, less attractive. Changing your product or your messaging can help position you for higher levels of success during these times.
To learn how WingSwept can help you make better use of technology (and prevent expensive disasters in the future) call us at 919-460-7011 or email us at Team_WingSwept@WingSwept.com.