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What will make or break a business as we head into a Covid-19 induced recession

By Nick Gold, MD of Speakers Corner

Nick Gold, MD of Speakers Corner, works with businesses across the globe to shape and curate their internal events programme. Since the COVID-19 crisis led to social distancing, Nick and his team have seen a change in how businesses are preparing for a post-lockdown economy and the steps they are taking to emerge from this crisis in a healthier position.  But, by September, when much of the UK business world hope to see their employees back together en masse, we will be faced with the looming threat of a deep global recession. 

In this article Nick will explain why leaders need to use this time now to begin discussing with their teams on what makes a successful business grow during a recession. He will also explore why their customer service will be a premium worth paying for.

The looming recession

As we start to look beyond the pandemic there are no bright clouds on the horizon.  We can already see how society is starting to take shape as we begin to recover from the COVID-19 lockdown and adapt to our ‘new normal’ everyday and working life.  Remote working is no longer a side perk but rather a standard practice and the office space is something that will, in the coming weeks and months, be re-imagined with its utilisation and purpose debated, broken down and re-built.

While business leaders need to accept these changes have already come and will continue to evolve, they also need to embrace the future, not with trepidation but rather with expectation.  The fear of the unknown is always worse than the reality and if we use the experiences of the last few months, for most businesses if they were asked in Q3 2019 how they would fare if no-one came in the office the following day, there is no doubt the expectation would have been devastation and paralysis of a company.  This hasn’t taken place, we have adapted and embraced the remote working culture.

A united front for business success

It is easy to talk about how recession brings opportunities but the truth is that is not about the recession itself but rather about the strength of the business, the understanding of its vision and clarity of thought over how to achieve it.  Businesses succeed during difficult times as every person in the business is both focussed on delivering its success but maybe more importantly, understands what the business is looking to achieve and what success looks like.

Preparing and empowering employees

Nick Gold

Any leader of a business needs to prepare their team for what’s coming next and make sure the individuals both understand and feel empowered to deliver.  This is not a question of the team members being told what to do but rather for them to say what they are going to achieve, to own this goal and for the leaders to nudge and cajole so they are heading in the right direction.

The empowerment of the individual to make decisions quickly and react to circumstances, especially now more than ever as they are working away from the support blanket of their team around them, will drive a business forward during the times ahead.

As such, the time spent in preparation of the mindset of the individual and the company as a whole will be paid back with interest over the coming weeks and months.  The company will be positioned to be agile in decision making and opportunity grasping, employees will feel empowered and management will have confidence that the team are striving together to deliver the vision.

The customer before everything

As we navigate through these murky times, there will be a lack of clarity manifesting itself through uncertainty around how the business will look and operate as it comes through this period.  To overcome this, maintaining relationships with customers will be critical to ensure resilience and strengthen the brand itself. Ultimately, whatever business or sector, the customer is at the core of everything and maintaining that customer relationship should underpin all decisions and ideas.

The times ahead could be opportunities to strengthen key customer relationships, to encourage the customer to educate the business more about what they need and the opportunities or problems they are encountering.  By gaining a greater understanding of the customer, the business with its agile approach through the recession has a chance to adapt to the needs of its customer and thus further strengthen then relationship developed through understanding by delivering what the customer needs (sometimes before they have even identified it or communicated it to the business).

By demonstrating this premium customer service, the business is giving itself every opportunity to move from being a supplier to a trusted supplier and then onto a key partner.  This progress of the relationship between a supplier and its customer is critical for any business as they move forward into a period of great uncertainty with a degree of optimism and sense of opportunity