Insights | By Howard Tiersky

5 Steps to Getting Your Business Ready for the Post-Pandemic New Normal

We cannot assume that when we emerge from this pandemic, everything goes back to exactly the way it was in February 2020. Things will be changed. 

Unfortunately, there really is no way to tell what this post-pandemic new normal is going to look like.

Will it be somewhat like the past? Will it be somewhat like the present? Or will it be different from both?

Nobody knows.

So how do you prepare for it? 

No one can predict the future, but there is a way to get your business ready for the coming times. Here are the 5 steps you should take to do that.

1. RECOGNIZE THAT THE FUTURE IS UNCERTAIN.

It may seem easy to predict that after months and months of not being allowed to do certain things, we will have pent up demand  for activities like vacations, dining out and going to the movies. 

But once that novelty wears off, what will be the long term impact of customers having been forced to change their behaviors for such an extended period of time. What we've done in our efforts to reduce the spread of coronavirus is we've forced people to establish new habits.

When we engage in a new behavior for a sustained period of time, then that behavior becomes more ingrained in us and over time it becomes a habit. 

Why is this important? Because if we think about the way our business was before, we had customers with habits. Habits about how often they dine out or go to movies or habits about how the shop or engage in other activities.

And given that those new habits have been established, they won’t necessarily go away just because restrictions are lifted. If your future success relies on customers returning to their old habits,  it's wise to anticipate that you will need to win your customers back into those behavioral patterns it won't happen automatically.

2. CONDUCT CUSTOMER RESEARCH.

Digital transformation has accelerated substantially during coronavirus.

Consumers have increased adoption of behaviors that probably were going to happen inevitably, like remote learning, telehealth, increased reliance on digital for ordering of daily consumables, online banking—all been pushed forward faster because of the constraints of the time of COVID-19. 

It’s critical to understand how your customers have changed so that you can adapt to the “new customer” you are dealing with post pandemic.

Talking to customers can include interviews, ethnography, usability, testing or a wide range of other tactics and techniques that can help you understand your customer today.

In my book, Winning Digital Customers: The Antidote to Irrelevance, I talk extensively about proven techniques for staying connected to customers, learning about their needs, synthesizing that data into customer personas.

3. ENVISION POSSIBLE SCENARIOS.

Even though we don’t know exactly what our customers will do post-pandemic, we can create some hypotheses.

Each hypothesis about the future is a different scenario--a future that may or may not happen. For example, customers may remain germ-phobic for years or decades to come, creating new business needs and opportunities. 

Conduct scenario planning exercises to identify what the different possible post-pandemic realities may be that could affect your business, even if you aren’t certain which ones will come true.

4. PLAN HOW TO RESPOND.

Once we’ve identified the scenarios, ask yourself for each scenario, how would we respond if this scenario were to come true?

Think of how the government prepares for every contingency, such as a hurricane, a typhoon, an earthquake, or a pandemic.

How would that change your business over time if that happened? 

Is there a way that our business could adapt to that future to really thrive? 

What would you need to prepare? 

How soon in advance would you need to start preparing to be ready?

If the answer is, we wouldn't need to start preparing at all if this eventuality occurs and it'll just be good for our business because we'll sell more stuff, then that's wonderful. You don't have to do anything.

But sometimes, you may need to shift your product set, adjust your marketing, or change the way you distribute our product. 

If that's the case, then you might want to ask, how long would it take? And if it takes a while, then you would want to think about the steps you should be taking in preparation so that you're ready if that eventuality occurs.

5. PUT SENSORS IN PLACE.

For each possible scenario, consider what would give you an indicator that this scenario is coming true? 

Then create a process to monitor those indicators so that you can continually re-assess the likelihood of each scenario. As some of the scenarios start to become more likely over time, based on the indicators, you can start to move into action.

This is the way of having a structured process in place to keep an eye on the future and figure out when it's time to take action.

Our culture, the fabric of our being has gone through a collective experience globally that has changed us all forever in certain ways. 

Some things we know will be different in the new normal and we can predict them pretty accurately. But it continues to be a future-telling game. 

It's important to keep your finger on the pulse of your customers to make sure that you're adjusting and adapting to remain relevant to their needs.

Check out my Wall Street Journal bestselling book, Winning Digital Customers, if you want to read more about how you can transform your business to be aligned with the changing needs of your customers. It will show you a proven 5-step formula that leading brands use to thrive in today’s digital world. You can download the first chapter for free at https://WinningDigitalCustomers.com.
Get FREE access to the first chapter of FROM`s
Wall Street Journal Best Selling Book

WINNING DIGITAL CUSTOMERS


  • Learn the three patterns of all successful digital brands (including companies like Apple, Netflix and Uber).
  • Understand why many great new products fail, and the formula for building products that won’t.
  • Discover the key reasons companies resist change and how to overcome them.
Get FREE access to the first chapter of FROM's
Wall Street Journal Best Selling Book

WINNING DIGITAL CUSTOMERS


  • Learn the three patterns of all successful digital brands (including companies like Apple, Netflix and Uber).
  • Understand why many great new products fail, and the formula for building products that won’t.
  • Discover the key reasons companies resist change and how to overcome them.