There are smarter ways to weather the storm.
As the coronavirus continues to change day-to-day life as we know it, many businesses are understandably starting to panic. Health concerns remain everyone’s top priority – naturally. But, don’t feel weird if you’re starting to chew your fingernails and let the “Is my company going to make it?” anxiety settle in. Between offices going remote on the fly, businesses being forced to close doors, employees suffering temporary layoffs, and this li’l issue of a predicted 2.4% decrease in the GDP it’s clear the financial impact is going to be huge.
Unfortunately, we don’t think even the best predictive analytics can really tell you what shape your company will be in next year (or five years down the line for that matter). There are just too many unknowns right now. However, you can leverage some fairly easy-to-implement technology solutions that will help you improve productivity now and decrease costs in the long run. With 89 percent of operations managers reporting that their roles (i.e. projects and budgets) been impacted by the coronavirus, it’s certainly worth taking a look.
If you’re running a skeleton crew right now or working remotely, you may want to think about automating some of your routine tasks and processes. Thing is, with a constricted budget, you want to ensure you’re making the most informed decisions about where to spend. You can use the data you already have – from a time-tracking tool, your project management software, a work order system, your CMMS, etc. – to determine which tasks take up the most of your team’s time. Look for patterns and trends. See any tasks that just bleed manual hours? Start there. Sometimes stepping back for that 30,000-foot view can provide the clarity needed to make the right decisions.
2. Staff and resource optimization
Does your company serve a wide geographical base? Data analytics and business intelligence tools like a dashboard system can give you quick visibility into how the current COVID-19 restrictions coincide with your company’s available employees and resources. Can you shuffle projects to keep your people billable? Can you address jobs in states with lower rates of coronavirus exposure and less rigid guidelines? Solving these logistical issues with real-time data will allow greater flexibility for your employees and ultimately reduce costs over time.
3. Remote data collection
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, data-driven decision-making really is your superpower as a business owner or manager. It’s important that you don’t miss out on collecting critical data during this strange time of social distancing. Luckily, there are a variety of tools that can help. With sensors, IoT devices, drones and custom apps, you can complete inspections and other data-collection tasks from a safe distance. What’s more, these solutions offer additional benefits like real-time data and improved efficiency, which will help you in the long run. You can let the tools collect your data, freeing up your people to analyze it, which could also yield better customer relationships and significant cost-savings over time.
4. Customer service
Speaking of customers, you’re going to want to keep yours happy during this tough time. Or at least feeling valued and heard. Chatbots can be a quick and affordable way to do this. You can utilize a query-based chatbot just to answer simple, direct questions, or you can implement a more advanced, AI-driven bot that can learn as it goes and have more complex interactions with your customers. Sound weird? It’s definitely not in 2020. Approximately 1.5 billion people use them regularly and, according to MIT Technology Review, 90 percent of companies report faster complaint resolution with chatbots. You can provide 24-hour customer service and retain complete control over your brand’s message during the crisis. Oh, and chatbots can also cut operational costs by 30 percent.
E-commerce and online assistance
Not all businesses offer products or services that align with an e-commerce model. Yet … desperate times, right? There are also a lot of small businesses in general that just haven’t had the time or budget to explore digital buying options. Getting the support now to get these efforts off the ground could go a long way in minimizing lost profits, especially if you’ve had to make the tough decision to reduce your sales staff. From 24/7 online ordering to inventory management to virtual service offerings, there are technology-driven ways to keep your business functioning.
Listen, this COVID-19 crisis is scary for sure, but we really are all in this together – businesses included. With data analytics, automation, business intelligence and other forms of digital transformation, you can be proactive in protecting your business. If you want to learn more about how to solve business problems with technology, get in touch with us any time. Stay safe!