We’ve all heard it said, and some have already felt the effect of it, the fact that business is going to change completely after lockdown. But that doesn’t mean that we all have to be caught in the flood.
There will be a wave of unexpected changes but possibly the biggest and least expected by most is the call for a greater focus on humanity.
What do I mean by humanity? Well business procedures may have changed, functions may have changed, the actual people we deal with, and how we interact with them may have changed. But people haven’t changed. If anything we have been thrust into a space of understanding and accepting our own humanity just that much more.
This being the case, I think bringing a larger factor of humanity into our businesses is going to make all the difference in the world.
We are now seeing people struggle to get their businesses through the devastation that the lockdown has left in its wake, some of which are still not able to function. And what got us to lockdown won’t get us out.
As much as business is business, humans have a built-in radar for danger, and now more than ever it’s at its most sensitive.
People are going to be looking out, not merely for good deals but for trust and honesty. They know that if they are to survive, that long term trusting relationships are crucial.
This is where a focus on the “humanity” element will play a major role. Those who are trusted most will be seen as most valuable, those who are most valuable will be separated from the crowd and used as examples of what the world is actually needing in these times.
Here are some things to take into consideration.
There is nothing that will turn people away in this time than someone who is seemingly “shady” or seems to be covering up their true intentions.
Now there is nothing wrong with having extended motives, as long as you aren’t lying to the person sitting across from you, whether digitally or in person.
Transparency is going to be a huge aspect of long term business deals.
This means no underhandedness. No shortcuts for a quick deal. We will soon start seeing these deals in light of what they are and the people attached will start losing all credibility. This including the companies who seem to tolerate it.
With people on guard, not only for themselves but for their neighbor as well, we are going to see a clamping down on underhandedness.
But this being the case, it increases the value of being hospitable.
We have seen an unprecedented coming together of people from all sides of the fence, and even on the other side of the meadow.
I don’t see this going away any time soon. And if we do things right, this could become the new norm.
We all know that the struggle lockdown has caused is real. We all know someone, or are that someone, who is looking at a future uncertain if the virus or lack of money are the worse of two enemies.
It is for this reason that looking out for each other is the greatest character trait any of us could hope to adopt. Not only for others benefit but even selfishly for ourselves.
Integrity and credibility are going to be all we have to play on. And this is one of the biggest opportunities for new businesses and entrepreneurs.
People are going to look for and retain those who are willing to go the extra mile, consistently looking out of the wellbeing of the customer.
And so these customers that we take such good care of are going to be shouting our names from the rooftops!
3. Caring – Know their story
The “new leaders” of industry are going to have to truly adopt the stance of a leader. That is to understand that “People don’t care how much you know (or can offer) until they know how much you care.”
It’s a well-known fact of sales that, in order to win the client, you should know as much about them as possible to hit them in their soft spots.
Sure this might be a tactic of manipulation but now more than ever people are going to be genuinely hurting and needing someone who can be empathetic towards their situation.
The weight of life for any individual, compounded by the struggle of those lives directly around them, needs to be alleviated to some degree. And it doesn’t take all that much to help lift someone else’s weight. Not if you truly believe it’s going to help.
Something as small as a word of appreciation or praise can change a person’s perspective for a day. Done over a few weeks, can change their year.
Small tokens to say thank you can mean the difference between someone feeling like you’re dealing with them for the money or that you are truly trying to help by giving them the business or service you offer.
Small sentiments will go a long way.
Not everyone is going to be able to meet you where you are at, so its time to figure out how you can meet them where they are at.
The ability to see someone with a need and figure out how you can help in their specific situation could mean the difference between a well-formed relationship out of respect and genuine care or begrudging partnership for the sake of getting by.
In a world where customisation is everything, being able to customise your offerings to suit the customer will show your true intentions.
Actions always speak louder than words.
And in turn, your actions would very likely win you a loyal customer for life, and then some.
Take a good look at your offerings and see how you can adjust to help a larger audience. Quantity is going to be your friend.
5. Culture and Leadership
Now more than ever, how we lead our teams is going to make a huge impact in the loyalty of our clients.
Know your values and know the value that lies within each and every employee.
Help them to understand, not only the “what” and “how” of the company but more importantly you need to continually express the WHY.
For more context read Simon Sinek’s book Start With Why.
Everyone does what they do because their “why” leads them there. If you want employees to treat your customers the way YOU want them to, they need to have YOUR WHY deeply embedded in their hearts and thoughts.
The difficulty comes in that it cannot be taught, it has to be caught. This means, as much as you spit your values and vision at them in each consecutive email and staff meeting, it will have little to no effect unless they see it and experience it first hand from you, their leader.
Make this a HUGE priority and reap the phenomenal benefits that it will bring.
Both internally and externally, this will decide your fate.
If someone can predict how you will respond to a certain situation, you can be sure that they won’t have a knee jerk reaction in light of the action you take. Meaning, less staff and client turnover. Meaning, stronger relationships and increased effectiveness and trust.
Lack of consistency will result in a major weight on both client and employee, and at these times, they can’t afford any more weight not their shoulders. They would rather lose the weight and find a lighter companion.
How do you do this? Well, decide early how you are going to conduct yourself and your affairs. Then remind yourself of it daily. And ensure that someone holds you accountable in every single instance.
This will take some time but the amount of time and pain that it will save you, in the long run, is worth every second and bit of effort you put in.
At the end of the day, it’s going to be about people more than it has ever been before.
Sure, as things start to get back to a comfortable medium, things might shift back to the way that they were, but in reality, that sense of comfort is heavily determined by how we decide to live today.
The fact is that people are still people and today they are feeling more human than ever. If we want to thrive after lockdown, focusing on these areas is going to set us up for some incredible breakthrough and success.
And in that spirit, I do hope and pray that this article has helped you in some way. If it has, share it with others.
Keep your chin up and your love towards others at the ready.
To your success.
Jacques de Wet
P.S. For a great read on this kind of work ethic, pick up a copy of The Thank You Economy by Gary Vaynerchuk