In the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses have been forced to shutdown or suspend their normal operations. If you are one of the many who are looking to minimize the impact that this crisis will have on your business, an option for you to consider may be to digitize your operations. I’m not saying that you should shut down completely and operate 100% of your day-to-day purely through a web portal. For some, they are able to do this. However, the majority of businesses may be able to continue to provide some level of service or sell some of their products to the public by using certain digital tools to provide some virtual operations.
Let’s take a look at some of the Essential Elements of a business operation. Marketing, Sales, Service Delivery and Customer Service are the key areas that make up the day-to-day operations of your business. Marketing is pretty straightforward. This is not necessarily a task that has been brought to a complete stop due to the pandemic. When we look at marketing, a lot of the day-to-day marketing tasks are already done virtually or remotely. Therefore, you can most likely market your business without going into the office.
Let’s take a look at sales. What are the channels that people use to contact your business? Is it by phone? Is it email? Most businesses operate by having persons walk through the door to be served. Many are looking at digital platforms to assist with collecting orders allowing customers to make purchases. Have you considered turning your website into an e-commerce platform? You don’t have to add every item in your store. However, you should be able to add the hot selling items, products or services that persons would be looking to purchase at this time. Online payments are now very easy to implement. A basic e-commerce solution with a few top selling products can be up and running in a matter of days. Other popular social media channels such as Whatsapp, Facebook and even live chat are there for you to implement into your digital sales process.
Moving away from sales, the biggest challenge I see small and medium businesses encounter, with implementing a virtual operation, is the actual Service Delivery aspect. If someone is purchasing a product, how do you get it to them? If you provide a service, can you deliver that service to a person remotely or virtually? In this date and time, you can use digital tools to sell and deliver just about anything. I think this was proven from the day that Amazon started to sell milk and ice cream through its website. If you provide carpentry, plumbing, mechanics and other skilled work, there are a number of ways that you can engage your customers while they’re in quarantine. Accountants, Bookkeepers and other skilled laborers that require the use of computers to serve their customers have already been using a lot of remote tools such as TeamViewer, Skype and Google Hangouts.
My point is, that many of these essential components of your operations can easily be supplemented with using the right virtual tools or techniques. When the average person thinks of a website, they see an About page or a Services page. Sadly, many are not able to connect the dots between their website and operations at all. I challenge you to think outside of the box. Focus on the core value provided by your business, and look at ways to transfer that value in a digital forum.
It’s ok to ask for help. Myself and many other Web experts are at your disposal. Feel free to reach out and start the discussion about what your journey to virtual operations would look like for you. Identify what area would be most difficult for you. I know that these are unprecedented times and uncharted waters for all of us. However, I encourage you to not be afraid to try something new or different. Your customers are at home with needs not being met.