We all know it, COVID-19 is dramatically changing consumer and business
behaviors today. Undoubtedly, many of those behaviors will remain long
after the diminishment and defeat of the virus.
New behaviors become permanent the longer they are in place. And in this
case, one of the primary human emotions, FEAR propels and engrains the
Organizations must consider how the current crisis will also change
long-term social interactions, events, personal contacts and what
products and services will better serve them in the new post COVID-19
Changes in customer behavior post COVID-19 are a certainty
Many people will certainly have higher sensitivity to germs and the
risks of spreading infections. This behavior alone will change many
Customers and workers will be more skeptical of close contact with
others. Consumers travel, dining, entertainment and product preferences
will be different tomorrow.
The list of changed behaviors and their impact will surely be long,
though still to be formed as COVID-19 runs its course.
The number of behavior changes will grow depending on how many people
are directly affected, how severely and for how long. Many new behaviors
will be normalized as customers practice them repeatedly over months.
How will behaviors shift in your industry? Many customer behaviour
changes will require new or modified products and services. New market
leaders will emerge while some past leaders falter. Many companies will
struggle post COVID-19.
A proactive approach needed to survive COVID-19
Knowing your marketplace/customers/consumer needs is always the best way
to meet market demands and win—but what you knew before may not serve
you well in an altered tomorrow.
Smart companies will adopt a proactive approach to understand what
changes will occur and be ready to adjust their products, services and
strategies quickly to meet current and future customer needs.
Convene key members of your team and debrief them on what they have been
hearing from customers. Having a work session to identify what might be
changing and importantly, what you don’t know about the “changes”
will set the stage for the next step.
2) Gather insight
Develop a plan to “take the temperature” of the marketplace. How can
we validate new behaviors we are seeing and hearing, and gather the
information we don’t know? Don’t assume anything. Your customers can
tell you what they will need, but you must ask them.
In this time of rapid change, it’s critical to conduct customer
interviews, surveys, market research or customer feedback by other
means. Gather the comments, attitudes and data, then analyze. And please
be objective, that is, be open to things you may have never thought
would occur, and to how it can impact YOU!
When interacting with customers during this difficult period, train your
people to open conversations with, “How can we help you get through
this?” not, “Here’s what we’ve got.” In other words, lead with
empathy not competence. Try to be part of the solution to their crisis.
You have your 2020 plans, but clearly COVID-19 requires forward
thinking, new strategies and re-planning on many fronts. Armed with
these new insights from the marketplace, re-plan and prioritize
strategies and tactics in all critical areas.
This could include Manufacturing/Operations, Sales, Marketing
Communications, New Product Development/Innovation, Customer Service and
Understanding what your customers will value in the post-COVID-19
business world and acting on it will ensure your survival and success
and put you ahead of major competitors. This cannot be over-emphasized.
Knowing the customer will sort the post-COVID-19 business winners from
losers and also-rans.
It’s also important to remember that customers buy VALUE, and value
comes from meeting their needs, which comes from understanding their
needs, in their words and actions. Focus on providing Value, and Revenue
and Profit will take care of itself.
Positive impact of COVID-19
Makers of some key medical products are benefiting from the Coronavirus
pandemic. For example, products that protect healthcare professionals
and consumers from the risks of spreading infection. This includes
thermometers, disposable gowns and gloves and masks, to mention a few.
With significantly increased demand today, these manufacturers should be
asking, is this temporary or permanent, how long will it last, and what
needs will persist going forward? Despite this favorable impact, gaining
customer insights on need changes is critical to make this short-term
Negative impact of COVID-19
Here, the list of industries is very long, and many will be transformed
in a post-COVID-19 business world. Dining and hospitality, travel and
entertainment, and related suppliers are just a few that have been
The question going forward is, when will their customers come back? But
even more important and more under their control is, what will they need
to deliver differently in terms of product or service features and
Historical post-COVID-19 business impact
History provides validation that major changes will occur. Look back at
9/11 or even the financial crisis of 2009.
The post 9/11 world brought us tighter airport security, the creation of
the TSA and Homeland Security, and increased security at everything from
sporting events and concerts to large office buildings in major cities.
Behaviors changed, industries were changed and created, and they will be
again. Many believe that COVID-19 will affect more people and businesses
directly and will have a more far reaching impact on businesses of all
types than any crisis in the past half century.
On the brighter side, remember that change create opportunities too.
Yes, it does. Business leaders who act now, communicate with customers
and take a proactive approach to their changing markets will do much
better than those who don’t. And that is the difference. We know it is
not easy, and we are not pretending it, managing business comes with
managing complexities. At this critical moment, when you are unsure of
what to do or how to go, you may need the advice of seasoned
Consultants. You may want to talk about your fear, goals, plans or needs
with our Consultants at Talents and Skills  who will help to
provide you guideline or strategies for survival. You will thrive again.
To your success…..
Tayo is the Managing Partner/CEO at Talents and Skills Africa, LLC
, a prolific management and human capital consultant. At Talents and Skills Africa, we breaths and live strategy, organisation development,
human capital management, and capacity building. Your success and
greatness is our mission.