The COVID-19 crisis has changed our lives, societies, and businesses overnight.
Just a few weeks ago everything was normal. Now entire industries are in turmoil, huge numbers of us are working from home, and the world is facing a challenge, unlike anything we’ve seen in decades.
It’s a tough time, and organizations everywhere are frantically looking for ways to adapt to the new remote world and protect their businesses and employees.
In lots of cases, technology is proving to be the answer. We’re witnessing a new wave of interest in digital transformation.
Let’s take a look at some of the ways organizations are surviving the crisis with technology.
With physical stores closed down, people are shopping online. This is nothing new, of course, but the surge in online shopping has led to some new ways of doing things.
Many companies have embraced virtual stores — highly interactive online shopping experiences driven by live video technology and conversational marketing.
There are lots of new opportunities and challenges here, and some industries will find the virtual approach easier and more profitable than others.
The automotive industry is making the most of virtual stores. While dealerships are closed, new car models are still launching — it’s just all done online.
Lots of companies are doing live broadcasts from the showroom, reaching huge numbers of potential customers with only a presenter and a camera person.
This same setup can also be used for remote training, keeping staff engaged and informed from a distance.
The telco industry is another that’s embracing virtual shopping. A1 Austria has already implemented their own virtual store last year where customers can watch the live video, ask questions via chat or phone, and watch demonstrations in real-time.
Even if the store is closed, agents are still able to work from home, answer calls, and reply to chat messages to make sure customers are being dealt with and minimal sales opportunities are missed.
Virtual stores have a lot to offer. They promise lower costs, more sales options, and access to a global market. The best part is, all this can be done while maintaining a lot of the human contact factor of a real high street store.
More Remote Work
Social distancing regulations have closed offices around the world, causing a massive surge in remote work. One study by Gartner found that 88% of organizations have encouraged or required their employees to work from home.
Only a handful of essential jobs now travel to work. This is a dramatic shift, but it’s really just an exaggeration of a trend that already existed.
Even before COVID-19, around 62% of employees aged between 22 and 65 said they worked remotely at least occasionally. We were already well on the path to a more remote workforce — the pandemic just accelerated things.
In fact, this push to more remote work could be one of the lasting positive impacts of COVID-19, according to a study by IDC. That’s because companies will get better at long-distance collaboration and start to see the benefits first-hand.
Remote work also creates an opportunity for a new sales channel. Staff working from home can still answer calls, respond to chats, and sell products through digital channels. The crisis is showing us that sales staff don’t necessarily have to be tethered to an office to do a great job.
More Focus on Customers
Remote communication isn’t just for coworkers.
With lockdowns in place around the world, people are left yearning for human contact and communication. There’s been a big uptick in the use of remote tools to keep in touch with friends and family.
This should be no different when it comes to communicating with your customers. Businesses are working hard to reassure their followers and stay in touch remotely, focusing on being a steady, reliable, and helpful presence in a time of uncertainty.
Many businesses are redirecting their funds to focus more on this digital communication. When asked what they would do with the budget from canceled trade shows, 28% of businesses said they’d invest it in digital advertising and 14% in content.
This takes us to the final point, the growing importance of conversational marketing.
Conversational Marketing in a Crisis
The next few months of social distancing and quarantines are the perfect time for businesses to adopt Conversational Marketing.
Here are some of the ways a more conversational approach can help:
- Chatbots can help take the strain from your staff. Call centers are closing as demand increases, but one of the main benefits of chatbots is they don’t have to go home. They’re available 24/7, keeping your marketing and customer support going throughout the crisis.
- An omnichannel sales approach can combine chatbots, live chat, phone, and live video — allowing customers to connect with your brand in exactly the way they choose, from wherever they are.
- Live Video Broadcasts (Like Whisbi’s) help connect with your audience and interact with them wherever they are. You can demonstrate products in real-time, answer questions live, and put a real face to your brand.
Conversational Sales and Marketing help you maintain communication and continue to serve customers when offices are closed and the usual business is disrupted. It was already growing in popularity before this crisis, and now it’s more valuable and important than ever.
Hope for the Future
The Coronavirus pandemic is an incredibly stressful time for everyone. Health concerns are compounded by economic worries and separation from the people we care about.
However, this difficult time is also turning out to be a springboard for some amazing new technologies and driving innovation in every industry.
It’s an opportunity to transform, adopt new and more effective working methods, and rebuild your organization to be perfectly adapted to the digital future.
To find out how Whisbi can help you do that with a conversational approach to marketing and sales, take a tour.