Why you need a business continuity plan right now

There has not been a single industry that has escaped the human and financial impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. In Australia, the swift government response to slow the spread of the virus meant the needs of organisations and the economy changed overnight.

While many businesses have seen the customer interest in their products or services virtually disappear, others have experienced an unprecedented increase and are struggling to keep up with a massive surge in demand.

The importance of a business continuity plan

While some organisations had business continuity plans in place, many did not, and those that did failed to consider a situation where every single employee would need to work from home. While many of our cloud-based customers transitioned their staff to work from home relatively quickly, organisations with physical or on-premise systems needed much longer to transition their workforce.

Many businesses also struggled with network and infrastructure challenges including lack of adequate resources like laptops for their staff to work from home and limited VPN capability. Cloud-based organisations that have had a nimble and flexible approach to work have paved the way for other businesses and helped them to overcome barriers which will shape the way an entire workforce will operate moving forward.

Empathy is crucial

The closure of many physical locations, retail spaces and the reduction of consumer-facing roles due to government restrictions has caused a remarkable shift in the customer service experience. In many cases storefronts are no longer the front line for interacting with customers and much of the service takes place over the phone or online. Customer service staff must be encouraged and empowered to show extra empathy in times of uncertainty. Creating great customer experiences, in turn fosters long-term trust and loyalty.

With unprecedented numbers of people suffering from Covid-19 related health concerns, economic and societal stress, the need for empathy in customer experiences is more important than ever. A recent Genesys survey found just over half of ANZ consumers (52 per cent in Australia and 57 per cent in New Zealand) believed organisations they regularly do business with have empathy for their individual circumstances, however, there is still significant room for improvement.

In times of crisis, people tend to be more sensitive to tone and motive; easily sensing the difference between genuine empathy and concern and surface-level brand speak.

More than business survival

There has already been a significant mindset shift for many businesses, from “how can we thrive to how can we simply survive?” Where before this crisis the focus was on business growth, now many are focused on keeping their business running and their staff employed for the foreseeable future.

As we begin to adjust to this “new normal”, businesses will have to provide the best experience for their customers, by displaying empathy, efficiency and effectiveness, in order to survive. Moreover, they will be looking at how they can optimise their workforce and operate more cost-effectively in what is sure to be a period of great uncertainty and caution.

While the road back to recovery is going to be a challenge, one thing which has buoyed everyone at Genesys is the incredible resilience and adaptability of people in these ever-changing circumstances. This situation has shown people can, and will, rise to the challenges they face with determination.

Covid-19 has provided an opportunity for people to prove exactly how capable, adaptable and skilled they are. The effects of this pandemic have generated a tsunami of professional innovation and creativity that I believe will shape a new, and better way of working for years to come.

Mark Buckley, Vice President, Australia & New Zealand, Genesys.

This article was first published on Inside Small Business, a sibling website to Inside Franchise Business Executive.