I just received the alert from our local government that we are officially in a three to six week lockdown due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19).
This isn't troublesome for myself or my colleagues because we've been working digitally for several years now. But for some of our clients, and their customers, this transition is quite a hardship. Maybe even downright impossible for some businesses due to the nature of their work.
How are businesses fairing in this rapid digital transition? Well, let's take a look at some of the local brick-and-mortar businesses near my house to see how they are using digital as a solution.
The Era of Digital Business Models
This pandemic is causing businesses around the world to think outside the box in how they are engaging their employees and their customers.
- Restaurants: I've seen small restaurants and stores in our local area shift from in house shopping and dining to take out, pick up, and delivery models. In these instances, the employees that typically serve customers within the four walls of the establishment have shifted. Now, employees answer incoming phone and web orders then deliver them to keep the restaurant running in the midst of COVID-19.
- Gyms: My local gym has made the transition to delivering six live boot camps per day to its members using the Zoom web meeting application. In addition to serving its adult paying members, the gym is offering kids camps two times per day since they can't be in school with their peers right now.
- Schools: The school systems have all resorted to online distance learning, using Zoom, iStation, RazKids, and Canvas to serve K-12 students. Students and parents don't have to worry about their children falling behind academically. eLearning is a great alternative that supports educational institutions all over the world; and now, it's the primary model used by local schools.
- Yoga Practices: I had a yoga instructor several years ago move out of my area to another state. As a result, I had to find a different practice. Today, I received an email from her saying that she's going to be offering online practices. YAY - now, I can attend her practices again!!
Are Businesses Missing The Mark?
All that to say, have businesses been missing an entire market or population of folks they could have been serving all along?
While the current healthcare situation is truly a scary time to be living in, it is opening the eyes of corporate America and small businesses alike. The possibilities of a "connected" selling world are starting to reveal themselves at a rapid pace.
Adopting Digital Tools
C5 Insight uses a myriad of tools to keep its employees engaged in projects, internal administrative tasks, and good old watercooler fun!
Likewise, the same tools we use at C5 Insight are put to work on client facing engagements - in and out of crisis situations. This allows our team to work from anywhere at any time of the day to serve one another and customers alike.
Here are some examples of the digital tools we use regularly:
We're likely all familiar with email and the flexibility it offers to get messages to one another.
Calendars (Outlook, Google, etc.)
Schedule time with one another to meet as needed, in person or online.
Collaboration tools, such as Microsoft Teams (MS Teams) and Slack, allow you to schedule meetings, share notes, chat about related topics, as well as store and collaborate on documents related to those topics. MS Teams, in particular, brings SharePoint, Planner, OneNote, Chat/Conversations, Wikis, and a slew of other add-ins to your digital toolbox.
SharePointSharePoint offers general intranet capabilities, sharing news about the organization, document management practices and procedures, etc. Intranet/document management platforms are invaluable to most every business, on or offline.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM)The one stop shop for all information related to customers and allows sales, customer care and marketing teams to collaborate on a group of customers or individual accounts.
Starting The Workday With An Integrated Approach: Microsoft Teams + CRM + Outlook
But the real magic happens when digital tools are integrated!
Let's take a look at a sales manager example where MS Teams is integrated with CRM which is integrated with Outlook:
- Joe logs into MS Teams after his commute from the kitchen to the home office.
- He sees an alert in the "All Company" Team that the office will remain on lockdown through the end of the month - home office it is for the foreseeable future!
- Next, he checks in on "Time Off Requests" from his direct reports in their Southeastern District Team. He quickly approves any new ones that have come in.
- Next, Joe submits his expense report in the "Expenses & Reimbursements" Team for the last trip he made before the lock down so that payroll can reimburse him.
- The next thing he sees in his MS Teams calendar is a reminder to follow up on a contract that is in legal review. So, he navigates to the Team responsible for that account, which gives him access to the contract document. Here, he can see the workflow status is still "Pending Legal Approval." Joe proceeds to reach out via Outlook to email his legal contact for an update.
- Finally, he navigates to another account Team where he is working on an opportunity to create a new service for an existing customer. Within MS Teams, he can see CRM information related to the last call notes, the stage of the opportunity, what his next steps should be, and a recent case that Customer Care created on the customer's existing service.
And that was all accomplished in the first hour of his day! Having tools integrated and available online allows employees to not only serve one another better, but also serve the customer anytime, anywhere.
The Potential of Pivoting to Digital
Imagine an engineering team updating electronic drawings and work instructions for a manufacturing crew that went from producing t-shirts to medical gowns. Those instructions could easily be stored within a TEAM site and shared with the lead on the manufacturing floor.
The lead then has the ability to ask questions, via the conversation thread, or even schedule a video meeting with the engineer to walk the shop floor - iPad in hand - to look at machinery and products together in order to make adjustments.
C5 Insight Projects: 100% Digital
Recently, C5 Insight was supposed to have two client facing engagements scheduled as onsite workshops with several teams within each organization. We have pivoted and will be able to continue serving those customers using digital tools.
We'll be using a combination of MS Teams, OneNote, and MURAL to conduct two and four day workshops with those customers. The client's team members, who are all working from home offices now, will be seen via video conference and we will all be able to easily interact using the Mural app.
While it's not how we prefer to do it, this is a viable means to continue with our scheduled engagements.
Request Your Complimentary Digital Assessment
The only limits we have in serving employees and customers are the limits we place upon ourselves.
Let technology into your organization to bridge the gap that we're all currently facing.
Unsure of how or where to begin? Give us a call at 704-895-2500. Our team here at C5 is happy to conduct a complimentary digital assessment for you.