Remote work models, Zoom meetings and weekly town halls are some of the new adjustments businesses across New York City are adopting in order to communicate with their employees in recent weeks.
Those changes apply to business strategies as well. In part one of a three-part series, we’re looking at ways businesses across NYC are working to better benefit customers, especially those impacted by COVID-19.
And those responses play out in a number of different ways, both big and small. Take, for example, medical marketing company DearDoc, which introduced a telemedicine portal that helps doctors market to new and existing clients online, even if their offices are closed. Or customer support company MaestroQA, which pivoted its in-person customer support conference to a virtual platform, making it freely accessible for all guests.
Regardless of the shift at hand, businesses across industries are adapting. Here’s how:
How MaestroQA’s business strategy is responding to COVID-19: We had an in-person customer experience conference planned for May 5 that we were charging $250 per ticket for people to attend. Once we realized how COVID-19 was impacting the customer support community and our customers and prospects, our focus was no longer about selling tickets to these folks, but rather how we could enable every support person in our community to come together, network, and have the resources and learning to see them through this tough time. We made the conference free-to-access, added networking sessions to help people connect with others who might be in the same boat and never looked back. We’re even trying to figure out the best way to connect people who lost their jobs with people who are hiring.
We’ve also extended the trial period in our sales cycle from 14 to 90 days. Many are struggling with downsized and remote teams now, but customer service quality is not something any brand can afford to relax their grip on, pandemic or not. Our philosophy is we can figure out the sales cycle, contracts and the nitty-gritty when this blows over, but in the meantime, let us help you maintain that quality.
How newly remote teams are impacted: We start every morning with a company-wide standup that keeps everyone updated on the latest changes in our customer and prospect base. In these syncs, we talk about how our customers and prospects are being impacted by the situation to help drive understanding and empathy across the team. We’ve found that things can unfold in as little as a day; a company that used to be healthy might lay off entire teams, and it’s important for sales, success, marketing, and the company at large to understand what’s happening to see the value of the changes that we’ve made to the way we sell and market to customers.
How MaestroQA’s business will be impacted: As a company, we’ve become much better communicators in many ways, and we’ve leaned on each other more for a sense of community at this time. We might be physically distant right now, but I don’t think the team has ever been closer.
How the dtx company’s business strategy is responding to COVID-19: We shifted 75 percent of our company to work with Mount Sinai using our direct to consumer technology, Flowcode, to go direct to COVID-19 relief efforts. We have gotten more than 7,000 donations from across the United States directly to the front line at Mount Sinai, which is at the epicenter of the crisis. The New York healthcare system has the most patients in the United States, and unfortunately, the most deaths. Their scientists are researching the virus and looking to find a therapy, a vaccine and running antibody trials from plasma of survivors.
We also are a part of an initiative with Wheels Up called ‘Meals Up,’ which is donating 10 million meals to those facing hunger during the COVID-19 crisis through Feeding America, and we are also involved with Brands x Better, a coalition of DTC brands that are giving back to those most affected by COVID-19.
How newly remote teams are impacted: We do daily team Zoom calls at 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. In the morning, we cover operations and our daily goals. In the afternoon, we check in on how everyone is doing physically and mentally and if they need anything from the team. It’s a nice reminder to pause, check in with ourselves, and each other. Every Friday afternoon, we also host a virtual cocktail party and everyone can bring family and friends.
How the dtx company’s business will be impacted: Overall, we think digital is going to become much stronger, and commerce through mobile and digital channels is going to continue to accelerate. the dtx company is about directly connecting people with brands and experiences through mobile devices, connecting without contact and bridging the offline and online worlds.
We’ve made the choice to invest through the downturn: no layoffs, no furloughs, no government funding. We know that it is a risky strategy, but we think over a long period of time it will pay off. As a team, we’ve all become much more open with each other, sharing where and when we need help, and how we can help others.
How Alpha’s business strategy is responding to COVID-19: We’ve sharpened our focus to adapt to clients’ heightened urgency for consumer insights in this truly surreal environment. We have reallocated resources to accelerate product development, communicate how rapid consumer research provides immediate tangible value and adjust how we engage with clients in a virtual way. For example, we have initiated a research series that is capturing how consumer behavior and sentiment are changing so fast, and we are providing complimentary research and insights for our clients around the short and long-term impacts of the pandemic.
The bottom line is that B2C organizations need to stay connected to the consumer during this time of massive disruption in order to ensure that their products and services stay relevant as consumers adapt and respond to different iterations of the post-COVID-19 world. We believe that the feedback generated by the Alpha rapid consumer insights platform provides a real benefit to companies now more than ever.
How newly remote teams are impacted: My leadership team and I have tried to provide as much communication and clarity as possible. We decided pretty early on that our teams must work from home, and the result has been that our teams are meeting more frequently than ever. We hold weekly all-hands company meetings to keep people updated, connected to the business, and not only aware of the changes happening, but the reasons they’re happening.
There’s a cultural element to this as well. We’ve moved a lot of our team building and team bonding activities from in-person to virtual events. We have weekly virtual happy hours, virtual team lunches, monthly virtual game nights and weekly virtual meditation sessions. We also bake in a lot of time for open discussion and Q&A sessions to keep lines of direct communication as open as possible.
How Alpha’s business will be impacted: Seeing how the use of our platform by major companies has changed throughout the current experience, we’ve realized that we need to better educate businesses on why they should be continuously tapping into consumer insights, and focus on introducing a culture of experimentation into their organizations. These two behaviors are imperative to not only making major innovations or navigating huge cultural shifts but also to making small month-to-month shifts that result in larger transformation over time. Companies that don’t react to the small shifts can find themselves blindsided over time.
How Negotiatus’ business strategy is responding to COVID-19: Prior to COVID-19, our ideal customer profile primarily consisted of multi-location fitness centers, retailers and coworking companies, some of the industries hit hardest by the virus. We have paused targeting new businesses in these industries and expanded our ICP to include essential businesses that are still in operation such as physical therapy, senior living facilities and construction management.
With supply chains disrupted for essential items such as cleaning supplies, tech equipment to work from home, and masks, these companies are having a very tough time finding what they need to operate. We’ve been able to lean on our network of more than 3,000 vendors to effectively source these items for clients and prospects alike.
How newly remote teams are impacted: One of the bigger challenges, especially for leadership, has been around planning and setting department OKRs. With so much uncertainty on what the next few months hold for the economy and country as a whole, we’ve shifted planning to look at much shorter time periods and to be focused on deliverables as opposed to results. This is helping each department align on what needs to get done this week, or even today, to keep us on track.
How Negotiatus’ business will be impacted: COVID-19 has changed our growth expectations and hiring plan near term as we prioritize cash management, but we are not losing sight of the fact that crises always end. Although we have never quite seen a recession combined with a global pandemic, we believe business sentiment will remain laser-focused on cost containment and cost reduction for the foreseeable future.
How DearDoc’s business strategy is responding to COVID-19: We had to act very quickly when some doctors’ offices were forced to shut down and there is less of a drive for them to market to new patients. Our sales were projected to drop drastically, but a team member suggested adding a telemedicine feature for our clients so that they could easily see new and existing patients. We hustled to format a seamless and easy to use telemedicine portal that our clients have loved. We are now ahead of our monthly sales goals.
How newly remote teams are impacted: One of my favorite things about DearDoc has been our high energy, motivation and enthusiasm that comes from being around your teammates. My fear was losing that. However, our leadership team has done a great job to keep that work culture alive from afar. They hold daily meetings via Zoom, recognize team members, give updates, and always end with a motivational or inspirational message.
We’ve also given a lot of trust empowerment to our teams. Micromanaging is a waste of time and resources.
How DearDoc’s business will be impacted: We believe that healthcare will be forever changed and virtual appointments could become part of the new normal. Some parts of healthcare are pretty antiquated. Virtual appointments can save valuable time and money for both the doctor and the patient. For patients, it takes out commuting, time and potentially sitting in a waiting room with other sick people.
Related: Companies Hiring During Coronavirus