Leaders of companies big and small are experiencing major shifts, and it’s changing the way we think about keeping up with user demand. Regardless of your industry, it’s safe to say that you’ve felt the effects of current events in some way.
Consider grocery delivery providers, who are being hit harder than ever and are desperate for drivers. Or giant retailers like Amazon, Walmart, and CVS who are hiring at unprecedented rates to help ease the burden in their warehouses. Or medical suppliers, who are rushing to provide desperately needed PPE and don’t have the capacity.
As the future stands uncertain, some companies have delayed or paused, unsure whether to proceed with business or hold firm until the coast is clear. And all of this makes one thing clear: Whether your company is already in the midst of reaching digital maturity or you’re just now making the transition to digital, it’s vital to plan for shifting user demands.
Leverage business intelligence
Strategize, strategize, and then strategize some more. You can’t conjure up creative solutions if you don’t first consider all that’s possible. But strategy is not one-and-done, especially in rapidly changing times. Instead, you must stay continually informed and go back to your action plan as often as needed. Recognize that when you develop your digital strategy, it’s not written in stone. Rather, it’s a fluid plan that should be built to evolve with changing times. Ensuring that your overarching strategy is malleable enough to adapt to any environment will make your path much easier to navigate. Speaking of…
Navigate disruptions and difficulties
Don’t neglect, navigate. When life gives you unexpected twists and turns, chart a path. Stay informed and take into account the overall climate, and evaluate what’s really needed and what’s not. Depending on your niche, demands may be sky-high right now or they may be dead in the water. Either way, take note that temporary demands — or lack thereof — are not a marker for the long term. They are fluctuations that you must plan for moving forward.
When we work with our clients on reshaping and retooling their businesses, one thing we highlight is crisis preparedness. People don’t always like to speculate about worst-case scenarios — but in the end, it’s crucial to review past events and plan for unexpected possibilities. You can’t predict the future, but you can plan for it when you make assumptions based on data and historical events.
Make informed decisions
So, we know that you need to make a few assumptions when planning for future user demand. But, you still want the bulk of your decisions to be based on cold, hard facts. Fact-based, data-driven information always triumphs, and you’ve likely got a great deal of it at your disposal. Use this to guide your process from here on out.
Inform your customers
When there’s simply nothing more that can be done from a production standpoint, it’s time to get real with your customers. You need to communicate directly and positively with your buyers. In the end, they’ll thank you, even if expectations fall short.
Your customers don’t know your back-end process, and they don’t need to. They want to know when they can expect the products and services you promised. They want to know that if something’s not arriving on time or operating as intended, that you’ve got a plan. What are you doing to improve the overall customer experience even when things go haywire?
There’s no need to keep your customers updated on every minute detail, nor do you need to spam them with emails about the kind of cleaning products you’re using to keep your facilities sterile. All you need is a simple, sincere, and straightforward check-in to let them know that they’re still your top priority.
Plan for lost productivity
When we think about keeping up with user demand, it’s easy to put that laser focus exclusively on customer needs. But your users include more than just customers. Investors, partners, and employees comprise the user base of any operation. Our employees are especially important in times like these because they’re the very people who keep everything up and running, even when we can’t be there with them.
Part of maintaining a successful business, pandemic or not, involves making space for your people when they really need it. While we should always expect our workers to bring their A game, sometimes life gets in the way. In these moments, we need a back-up plan to ensure the work is still delivered on time and in line with customer expectations — all while maintaining the loyalty and trust of those who rely on us.
Change your plans as needed
Whether you’re adjusting operations to meet demand for increased shipments, reducing distribution time by working directly with customers, or stopping to reassess current circumstances altogether, it’s OK to change your plans. It’s OK to go back to the drawing board, it’s OK to start from scratch, and it’s OK to ask for help. Truly, we’re all in this together, and those of us who are honest enough to lean on each other as we adapt to a new world will pull through stronger and more capable than before.