A Crisis Doesn’t Change What Has Worked for Your Business in the Past
With an inevitable downturn in the economy, most businesses are going to suffer a decline in revenue and earnings for an unknown period of time. A key thing I want to talk about concerning that in this article is that even though there will have to be adjustments in the near term, it should be understood that the foundations that make a business what it is, do not change.
That’s important to take into account because business owners or managers may attempt to over-manage the business and make changes that are detrimental if they hit at the things that have made the business successful.
So while the coronavirus and the response to it by governments have changed the condition of the economy at this time, we must maintain our discipline concerning providing quality products and services that have brought us our success. That includes customer service.
Probably the two major foundations all businesses are built upon are the trust and good will that have been built with customers, and the build up of a strong cash position to ride out tough times like those that are upon us.
As for trust, we can and should communicate with our customers concerning any changes we make that may result in changes in how we do business with them. For example, we may not have as large as an employee base to provide customer service, so we can ask them to be patient as we adapt to the rapidly changing economic situation we face.
If you’ve built good will with your customers, the vast majority will respond positively to changes that must be made in order to remain profitable. The error would be to make the changes without letting them know what you’re doing and how it’ll impact them.
As for the quality of products or services, we must fight hard to ensure there is not a drop off quality during a weak economy. Customers may have to wait a little longer to get answers to their questions, but they should never have to experience a decline in quality in the products and services being offered.
I understand that customer service is a part of any product or service offered, but the product or service being offered by the business must take top priority in order to maintain or improve quality. If that isn’t done, no amount of customer service will assuage customer dissatisfaction.
As a matter of fact, if quality is kept in place or improved, that goes a long way to alleviating the need to provide a lot of hand-holding. Lowering of quality triggers more responses from customers, which puts pressure on customer service departments, or individuals, if you’re a small company.
The key takeaway here is that the quality of your products and services that have made your business profitable, must not change in light of the current economic challenges being faced; to attempt to cut corners there will result in a loss of customers and extreme pressure on customer service. Never change the fundamentals that got the business to where it is.
You may have to make some temporary accommodations for the sake of your customers, and depending on what business you’re in, it should not only be communicated verbally, but put in writing if need be.
One example of that would be if you own rental property. More than likely some of your renters will struggle to pay full rent at some point over the next year. Something you could do there would be to offer them some adjustible rent options with the understanding that they’ll have to eventually pay you back if you temporarily lower the rent to help them. This must be put in writing and signed by your tenants, if it is something you must do to keep historically good tenants.
There are many such things that a business must consider when anticipating the potential economic fallout over the next year or so.
The point is to never surrender the fundamentals of business success when looking for ways you’ll have to adjust in response to the new economic realities.
Finally, as for employees, this would be a time to look seriously at who are really among the top workers you have, and what you can do to ensure you can take care of them in these financially trying times.
Hopefully you’ve been maintaining a strong cash position for a long time, but if you’re struggling, the key would be to look at ways to immediately cut non-essential costs while putting the difference into building up your cash reserves.
The bottom line is know the foundations and fundamentals of your business, and commit to not moving off of them during these tough times.