I was recently speaking with one of my company’s board members about economic and social recovery from the pandemic, and we shared cautiously optimistic outlooks for the future. We could see obvious hurdles to clear, of course, including the sharp rise of the Delta variant. But, barring a shocking change in trajectory, I think the U.S. should continue along the road to recovery.
This board member then passed along some of the most important advice I have heard in recent months: with the world going back to normal, now is the time to invest.
Of course, even the idea of returning to “normal” needs some adjustment. Businesses– especially local businesses– have had to adapt and transform so much in the past year and a half that things shouldn’t simply return to how they were before.
Under the emerging normal, changes brought on by social distancing and cautious isolating will continue being driven by consumer preference. The companies that can keep the benefits of their COVID-era efforts by investing now in the tools customers want will see major benefits.
All said, here’s how local businesses can thrive in the recovery economy: Return to in-person when it matters, but keep the remote options any time we can
The Benefits of Pandemic-Era Innovations
Providing a personal touch is one of the biggest pandemic-related challenges for companies. Lots of businesses differentiate from competitors based on their customer experience, and those that could not adapt as COVID set in generally had to close their doors.
Now, as the world begins to recover, it’s very tempting for leaders to pull their organizations back to where they were in March 2020. But that would be a mistake.
Trying to replace in-person services for health and safety concerns introduced a lot of businesses to benefits like online chat, virtual queueing and touchless payment tools. Companies that offer home services, for example, have been able to shift a lot of troubleshooting to video chat, enabling people to fix small problems without needing to invite a person into their home.
Virtual waiting rooms are also important for companies that bring customers in, like healthcare providers or takeout restaurants. Whether patients or customers, people could wait in their cars, remaining socially distanced, and enter when the doctor was ready or their pizza was done.
Now that businesses are beginning to reopen as normal, many people still want these benefits. People may be ready to be around other people again, but most don’t count that as waiting for a technician to come to your house when it’s a problem someone could talk you through on a video chat. Or sitting in a waiting room when you could be relaxing in your car, listening to your music.
Accelerate Down the Path to Digital Transformation
When the story of the COVID era is written for business books, it will be a tale of drastic, acc