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Industry Contributor 6 May 2020 - 3 min read

Brands that respond best do best: how to be one of the smart companies post COVID-19

By Linda O’Grady, Data Strategy Partner & Business Partner - CX Lavender
The world is very Post Malone after a big night out right now. We’ve woken up somewhere strange and the last few weeks feel pretty surreal. We’re still reeling a bit, not entirely sure what happened and waiting for the next surprise, only for us it hopefully won’t be a visit from law enforcement – unless of course we’ve gone to the beach. Instead it could be a second wave of COVID-19, or economic fallout from the lockdown, or international trade problems, or other things we haven’t even thought of yet. It’s a lot.

As leaders we need to keep our companies strong through all of this, but we don’t have much to work with. There are only few things we know for certain and a tonne of conjecture about the future. In fact, there are only four things we know for certain:

  • Customers need to be able to do more from home;
  • They are likely to reset their priorities and spend differently, at least for a while;
  • There will be some kind of ‘new normal’ phase because we can’t instantly spring back to the way things were;
  • And the tightening of the economy will affect us all.

Beyond that, we can only surmise things based on the GFC and the Spanish Flu – which, let’s face it, are not exactly like for like. So how do we successfully navigate our companies and our brands through this? Here are seven critical things your business should be doing right now:

  • Strengthening your change capability – At the very least your company needs a quick way to act with coordination. This relies on connecting key stakeholders across the whole business with the power to take immediate action as the next pivot happens. This is not just senior leaders, it’s a group of do-ers in your business who have been identified as having the ability and the charisma to make things happen. This is even more important if you’re operating in an agile or decentralised structure. Think of it as a fire warden system.
  • Digital service – I’d double down here but not focus solely on online. It’s important to look at your whole channel ecosystem to meet the needs of all customers, including the vulnerable or elderly. Think about voice-led channels, SMS and social in new ways, as well as all the new channels that will emerge in the next little while. Do your best to stay on top of them. There will be amazing opportunities to lead in this space.
  • Realigning products – It’s critical to assess which of your products and services have new value that can be leveraged and how others should be altered to thrive. Make sure your customers have a voice in this and think of it as iterative because your business will need to do it several times over the next year or so.
  • Improving customer data – There is both an opportunity and a risk here. Grading how contactable your customers are without face-to-face channels will help you assess the risk. We also have a window of opportunity where customers are actively thinking about their contactability and channel usage. It’s the right time to increase multi-channel contactability, progressive customer profiling and digital service readiness.
  • Checking your Brand EQ – No, we are not delighted to offer you a pause on your payments, we need to make sure our brands are showing sensitivity. This is challenging to manage at scale. You will likely need guidelines as well as a quick way to see your always-on and automated communication so you can manage risk.
  • Redesigning your employee experience – Through urgent necessity this has already happened whether we like it or not. Some of it will be good. Some will not. Innovation is the child of necessity and we have certainly had necessity. Smart companies will be thinking about maintaining or changing culture through this and drawing everything good into new, optimised and effective ways of working. And last, but certainly not least…
  • Post COVID-19 Customer Strategy – There is a wonderful opportunity to emerge from this strongly if you’re ahead of the game on customer strategy, including products, services, distribution, pricing and brand positioning. Change always offers new opportunities. Let’s find them and grab them!

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Linda O’Grady, Data Strategy Partner & Business Partner

CX Lavender

Linda O’Grady is a hybrid business strategist, data strategist and post-graduate qualified change manager. She leads CX Lavender’s integrated strategic capability across communication, data, technology and innovation as well as its Agile and lean delivery teams. This includes hybrid model in-housing for large corporates such as Westpac Group. She has a true understanding of both sides of the agency relationship having been a Head of Strategy for SE Asia for a large networked agency as well as Head of Marketing Planning & Performance for a major multi-brand corporate. She’s also spent nine years in start-ups and scale-ups honing her innovation understanding and ability to get from A to B quickly and cost-effectively!

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