The COVID-19 pandemic has affected just about every business globally but in dramatically different ways. Many of our B2C customers have obviously felt the effects of this uncertainty as well. How businesses have reacted has been varied.
Predictably, some customers have temporarily paused operations to address urgent priorities. Others have continued “business as usual” as much as possible, noting that in some areas they’ve been able to focus more on the project, driven by the hope that they might emerge from the global pandemic stronger than when the first “shelter-in-place” orders were announced.
Another scenario we found interesting- a customer of ours initially paused their work, but once they received the SBA Paycheck Protection Program stimulus, wanted to start up again – one of the criteria for the loan is to make sure people are working.
In other cases, some of our customers have doubled down and accelerated their efforts on improving areas that have been backlogged, now that their teams are more available. A few have observed that stakeholders who would normally be impossible to reach are now more available since they aren’t commuting to work or traveling to customer sites. Some of the most popular projects that customers have prioritized are related to digitizing their business.
It’s anyone’s guess how the business world will look post-COVID-19, but smart businesses are looking at ways to move more of their business online (either customer or work-from-home scenarios). Not only are they looking to future-proof themselves in the event of another global crisis, but also to improve their operations significantly for when the final shelter-in-place orders are eventually lifted.
In order to improve customers’ internal processes, some organizations are starting to consolidate their applications onto the Salesforce platform. For instance, rather than VPN’ing into a back end system, an integration would make the information available in Salesforce. With this method, no additional licenses to a back end system would be necessary.
Integrations don’t only have to be about data visibility — integrations can kick off processes, for instance, a “closed won” customer can then be onboarded and provisioned with an integration. Not only would it all occur online, but it’s also faster and more accurate than performing it manually.
Moving the customer-facing side of the business online is a key strategy to continue to engage with customers and to scale the business, even beyond widespread shelter-in-place. Setting up a quick customer community, with many out of the box features, is a quick way to extend your customer service to be more self-service. Enabling case management, access to knowledge articles, interactive chatbots are strong value-added capabilities that will continue providing value well past the current situation.
Customer onboarding is another quick win that can be moved online rather than through high touch, potentially inefficient communication. Automating the initial steps facilitates greater speed and scale. Going one step further and having a customer-facing onboarding process that can walk a customer through online signatures, to answering questionnaires and uploading documents, to provisioning, works even better.
Setting up an e-commerce capability can also greatly improve service capacity. A simple e-commerce capability using Salesforce’s development platform can be set up quickly, or a more turnkey solution like the B2B Ecommerce product from Salesforce can get an online presence up and running faster than other solutions.
These are just a few examples of how our customers are responding innovatively to the operational challenges presented by this crisis, leveraging existing resources and adding new capabilities to allow flexibility in the face of short-term uncertainty.