By Eric Johnson
As states and local governments begin to loosen the travel and commerce sequestration guidelines, many people are looking to get back to the sense of normalcy from pre-lockdown. However, a number of locales that have commenced reopening have also experienced an increase in Covid cases. It is currently not clear if the rise is due to the greater number of people being tested, or due to actual statistical increase in cases. However, the nominal numbers are increasingly worrying both elected and health officials and there are many discussions around a potential second wave and the possibility of a new round of re-closings.
Organizations should start developing contingency plans around the possibility of re-closings and a new round of sequestration in place. While many organizations may be able to continue to use the same protocols and approaches they are currently using for a potential next round, there are a couple of considerations to keep in mind.
Manage customer expectations through a communication plan
During a re-opening period, customers will begin to see greater access to goods and services. A re-closing environment may limit access to those goods and services once again, as currently experienced now. This leaves the potential for customers to become frustrated or to try to arbitrage places where re-closings have not occurred, to procure needs and desires. Have a clear and well thought out communication plan to keep customers in the loop regarding product and service delivery, hours of operations, and other components of the business that customers use to gauge access to the organization. Make sure that websites are constantly updated and that external information sources such as Google Maps and Facebook reflect the changes in sync with the updated sequestration information from government sources.
If possible, be proactive in reaching out to customers and provide any possible alternative ways of product or service delivery. Prioritize the customer base based on profitability to ensure valuable customers are taking care of. Reach out to new or lower-tier customers to ensure awareness of all offered products and services.
Stay abreast of the marketplace
Make sure to stay abreast of competitors in the marketplace. This serves to both indicate the potential for acquiring new customers, and also to understand how external factors may impact your organization based on impacts to other players in the space. Additionally, continue to research new uses for the current set of delivered products and services. Draw up on employee frontline experience and be willing to be flexible in experimenting with new ideas. There are countless stories of organizations pivoting into new areas based on suggestions internally, as we have learned from the vodka company that added a hand sanitizer line and the machining company that began to produce ventilators with their spare capacity. A second wave may provide yet more opportunities to branch out.
The first level of sequestration was enacted to reduce the spread of the virus in order to manage hospital capacity in treating affected individuals. As we now have a better understanding of hospital capacity, treatment, and testing, hopefully the need for sequestration will be lessened in the future. However, it is the duty of all organizations to be sufficiently aware of the potential risks and to have a plan for mitigation, especially since some past pandemics have shown a second wave to be potentially worse than the first.
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