Crisis brings people together. And while the COVID pandemic has physically separated us from our friends, families, and coworkers, it is not surprising that it has brought out the best in people in many ways. From a business perspective, COVID has probably harmed more companies than it has helped; however, for those that have not only survived but thrived because of the pandemic, there are some pretty incredible lessons to be learned.
When the lockdown was announced, my immediate reaction was to panic. Our company had been severely affected by the 2008 financial crisis and went through a massive restructuring which included laying off nearly half of our staff. It took years to rebuild and I wasn’t sure I could go through such hard times again. I knew that it would take a great deal of hustle to continue to grow our sales pipeline during the pandemic, but that was the only way we could guarantee our survival. We put all of our efforts into focusing on three key areas: 1) employee retention, 2) customer satisfaction, 3) sales & marketing.
The first thing we did was to reassure our employees that we were all in this together. Regular communication was vital to inform the staff of the measures we were taking as a business to keep everyone safe. Many were going through tough times as their spouses were laid off from their jobs, and people were generally worried about what the future would hold. Working from home became the new norm literally overnight, and we unconditionally allowed 100% of our staff to make that transition in record time.
Next, we needed to make sure that our clients were being taken care of like never before. Of course, customer satisfaction is always a top priority, but the crisis made it even more critical. Ensuring our clients were happy and continued to use our services became our core goal—one shared by every member of our organization across all departments. Having such a fundamental common purpose created true group cohesion and we started to see employees working hand-in-hand instead of in silos. People became more accountable, worked with one another to find solutions, and took on more responsibility to help those in need—all to make sure our clients got the best service money could buy and would keep coming back.
From a marketing and sales perspective, we continued to pour our efforts into enhancing thought leadership, content marketing, and word of mouth. While these are not short-term strategies, we had already been working on these areas for several years, and we realized that it was not the time to stop. Marketing during a crisis is often neglected. In fact, marketing budgets are often the first to get cut in difficult times. But doing the opposite is sometimes the saving grace for companies to ensure survival. We knew that we needed to ensure a steady pipeline so as not to impact future sales negatively. Our marketing team worked extra hard to create relevant content that would resonate with our target audience to continue to nurture and engage prospects.
What happened next was pretty amazing to witness. Suddenly we were all utterly grateful for things that we had taken for granted before. We were grateful to have our jobs and a steady income every month. We were grateful for conversations with our peers. We were grateful for our clients who stuck with us and confirmed new bookings. We were grateful for being healthy. We were grateful for our sales reps who signed new contracts, our agents for delivering quality results, for finishing projects on time and within budget… all things that were a normal part of the day-to-day before the pandemic, but that we didn’t necessarily notice or appreciate. We started to send one another congratulatory messages to encourage one another. We interacted more. In fact, we have never felt so close as a team. We replaced old habits with new ones, which has helped forge the corporate culture we have today.
Of course, there were many ups and downs along the way and the road was not paved with rainbows and unicorns. But by focusing on the positive, we were able to learn an important life lesson while growing our business: living in the present moment, taking one day at a time, and transforming expectations into appreciation gives you a profound sense of accomplishment. I never thought that we would learn such a lesson while our entire staff transformed into a remote workforce or because we were all looking to save ourselves from disaster. I consider myself lucky because any small shift in mindset could have set us on an entirely different path. So while 2020 has felt like the worst year in history for many reasons, it’s also been one of our best for a lot more.