While a proportion of Australian businesses may have slowed their pace in the current lockdown, Corporate Traveller General Manager Tom Walley says the ‘downtime’ can be used to re-strategise and plan for the post-lockdown bounce back. Businesses can plan to capitalise on new opportunities when they can trade freely.
Corporate Traveller has continued innovating, despite lockdowns and the short-term travel downturn.
Tom says, “Other industries can expect demand for their products and services to return and can use this unprecedented time to innovate areas of their business to better serve their customers. They should see it as a genuine opportunity to flourish and get ahead of competitors quickly in the bounceback.”
Here are Tom’s seven ideas for business's to put in place now for a quick recovery after lockdown.
1. Have a marketing and sales strategy ready to launch post-lockdown.
Businesses often cut marketing budgets during economic downturns. However, marketing helps build your future customer base and is critical to retaining customers with brand touch points and retention offers. Businesses can review their marketing and sales resource ratio mix during this period. Look to drive operational effectiveness through the existing technology to automate the sales and marketing process.
2. Innovate through technology to differentiate your brand.
Innovation can help your business stay competitive and be profitable over the long term. It is important for your innovation to meet the changing needs of your customers, leverage existing technology wherever possible, and be supported by a culture of innovation, to empower employees to share new ideas to improve the customer experience. At Corporate Traveller, during the pandemic we enhanced our travel booking platform SAVI. It now features enhanced traveller safety capabilities with greater policy control and SAVI Credits – a module that provides visibility and utilisation of unused ticket credits, which will become more important post-COVID as businesses focus on credits and cost-controls.
3. Create a cashflow positive strategy.
Now is the time to negotiate better terms with suppliers and revise any processes and systems preventing you from managing cashflow. For example, if you have a monthly invoicing model, consider sending invoices as you complete certain work to encourage consistent cashflow. Reviewing the pricing of your products or services, if you haven’t done so for some time, could also help.
4. Strengthen your customer service function to retain customers.
Customer service should ultimately be human-centred, with technology as a support. If your budget allows, consider investing in AI (for instance, a chat function) to improve efficiencies and address smaller issues, while retaining customer service people for higher level support. At the end of the day, customers want to be able to speak to a person and know their issue or feedback has been heard. Ensure customer service staff are educated on your products or services and well-trained to resolve issues, communicate professionally and empathetically, and respond well to disgruntled customers.
5. Improve your business reporting to provide a full picture of performance, strengths, and weaknesses.
Your pre-COVID business models, weaknesses and strengths will be amplified during this time and it’s critical that what you measured pre-COVID is still applicable now. If not, re-establish your new baseline. You and your management team will want the important numbers and metrics to provide a full picture of your business’s position and performance, strengths, and weaknesses. Creating these reports now enables your team to find and address issues, and opportunities, to put your business in a better position post-lockdown.
6. Involve your human resources professional.
The human resources function in your organisation remains a critical component of your business during lockdown. HR directs every living resource of your business and is responsible for cultivating a healthy and productive environment. However, HR can also be used strategically. Empower HR to use available data to ask and answer strategic questions about the future of your business, providing you with crucial information on outsourcing and cost management, allowing you to better control your finances and direct growth. Ensuring your HR department knows where the business is heading also ensures they can recruit and train employees effectively.
7. Update your business’s travel and expense policy.
As business travel is more complex in a pandemic environment, it will need to be considered in your business strategy and will require robust policies and procedures. Having said that, maintaining travel – when it is safe to do so – makes good business sense. Companies that travel know that doing business face-to-face helps develop relationships and increase sales. Use this time to update travel policies and procedures – with an emphasis on health and safety, flexibility, and budget. Build a contingency budget in case borders open sooner than expected. Your TMC can also provide real-time travel information updates and an experienced team that can advise on navigating restrictions.