A few weeks ago, many people were hoping we could reopen the country all at once. As more states have made the decision to open up while others are still battling an increase in infections, it’s become clearer that isn’t going to happen. What level of infection risk a state can afford to take will depend on its population density, average age, rate of spread, and the capabilities of its hospital systems. States also started social distancing at different times, meaning the benefits of that policy could be weeks from being seen in some states.
The forecast for how we transition out of our current state of COVID-19 crisis looks a lot like a United States weather forecast – regional similarities in expectations, with patches of more severe and less severe impact. In a nation this large, this is to be expected. A United States weather forecast is pretty useless; it’s always raining somewhere. In fact, even the flu hits at different times depending on the state.
So what can you do with this very uncertain forecast? Gather as much information as you can about the things that you do know and use that to make decisions, especially relating to your two most important audiences, your customers and your employees.
Take Care of Your Customers
Your customers will be affected in different ways. Try to identify commonalities to help you better understand what they will be facing and how you can help them. If they don’t have things in common across the board, break them into segments that have similar traits.
Do some of your customers have exposure to mostly urban economies? Do some of your customers do nearly all of their business locally? Are any of them dependent on supplies that originate from a particular area of the country, or even another country?
All of these could impact the challenges your customers face in the coming months – and that could affect your bottom line. Consider what the status of your customer segments will be coming out of the COVID-19 crisis and what their two or three most important issues will look like. What can you do to help them with those 2-3 critical challenges.
Take Care of Your Employees
Some of your employees may have more immediate needs. Employees with family members in hot spots, or employees that grew up in hot spots, are likely to be far more emotionally impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. Consider that just less than 3,000 people died during the 9/11 attacks, but New York City alone has lost more than four times that many people to COVID-19. Many more NYC residents have suffered greatly and were (or are) worried that they might die before recovering. The same is true for other areas of outbreak across the United States and even patches of North Carolina.
If you have any employees from hot spots, they very well may be going through a tough time right now. Support them, and any of your employees who have a personal tie to the virus, to the greatest extent that you can.
Even after we get past the peak of the virus that we are experiencing now, most experts say it won’t completely end. There could be a long, long tail of infections and we may even suffer outbreaks in some areas. Consider how this will affect your employees and how that will affect your business.
What can you do to check in on the mental health and mindset of your employees, especially if many, or all, are working from home? How will you handle it when an employee is out sick for two or three weeks because they’ve got COVID-19? What will you do for employees who have to go to their home state to take care of the affairs of a parent or parents who have died from the virus? How will you handle the sudden need to have all of your employees work from home again if there is an outbreak in your area?
Those are the questions for which you want to prepare your answers now so that you can make the most well thought out decision, and not just an emotional reaction.
Business is all about solving problems for people. And while many businesses are shut down right now (although ours continues to operate), people need more help than ever solving problems. The more that you can anticipate the problems your customers and potential customers will have, and present solutions to help them solve those problems, the better positioned your business will be to survive, and maybe even thrive, through the difficult economic conditions ahead.
Having this many shuttered businesses is tough for businesses and their customers, but if we all do our best to take care of the people around us, hopefully we can make it just a little bit less awful.
To learn how WingSwept can help your company make better use of technology, call us at 919-460-7011 or email us at Team_WingSwept@WingSwept.com.