How To Humanize Business While Going Digital during COVID-19

How To Humanize Business While Going Digital during COVID-19

As we live through the COVID-19 pandemic, I’ve continued my journey talking to people around the world to understand how are they coping, staying calm, and productive in business. So many people have had to become digitally savvy overnight and employees are under pressure to pivot online very quickly. Event planning companies are a perfect example of having to shift strategies for business continuity. Those who adapt rapidly while sustaining customer satisfaction are the ones most likely to succeed in 2020 and beyond. 

Meet Vuk Vukannovic

 

Stacy-Sherman-interviews-Vuk-Vukananovic about Customer Experiences During a Pandemic

Vuk is a Customer Relationship Executive at Awards International, where he coordinates Masterclasses and different events focussed on CX, EX, Complaint Handling, Digital Experience, Business Excellence, and more across different business sectors. When not at work, Vuk is finishing his studies in Business Economics and preparing his bachelor thesis on “The Importance of Transparency in Business Awards.”

INTERVIEW SUMMARY:

Stacy: HOW is Awards International PIVOTING its BUSINESS DURING COVID-19? What advice do you have for others?

VUK: “This situation has definitely caused health and economic issues on a global scale. People don’t feel comfortable going to a supermarket for groceries or going to a pharmacy to get what they need, let alone attend a 500 people event. Therefore, we are in the final stage of switching all in-person events to online experiences. The plan is for our next four awards to be online from finalists’ presentations to awards ceremonies. It will be interesting to see how it affects 2021 business plans. We’ll all learn a lot from this year’s events. My advice to others is to adjust their short-term plans to the situation. Be innovative, seek advice, and help. Do not forget about long term goals.

Stacy: HOW IS TECHNOLOGY enabling YOU TO HUMANIZE BUSINESS?

VUK: “Thanks to technology, we’re not out of business. We are still launching events successfully. They’re all online, and not pre-recorded. Participants from around the world are able to ask the trainers questions and share opinions in real-time. We’re partnering with our IT team closely for platform testing and ensuring clients have a good digital experience from beginning to end. Technology is also helping us record each session, which we send to participants within 48 hours. We also leverage digital platforms for the awards scoring and evaluation process. While we relied on the software before the coronavirus outbreak, it is especially important in times like now to sustain our operations.”

Stacy: WHAT’S YOUR GREATEST business CHALLENGE now?

VUK: “There’s so much changing every day. We have gone from utter despair to hope and despair again, then back to hope. We have written 4 new business plans in two weeks, depending on what the outlook is. While it’s hard to predict the future, the shift to an online awards program has been fun. Despite abrupt changes, we’re doing things we wanted to do a while ago. Now, we can and have to do them! There’s a lot of details to care for in the short term, and we need a good communication plan. It is extremely important that we walk our customers through the entire process and satisfy (even exceed) their expectations. Since we are an international company and the pandemic is not the same everywhere, we need to stay updated to what’s happening across different countries and continuously consult with our partners. It’s all about sharing and learning.”

Stacy: WHAT ARE WAYS YOU’re KEEPing work teams ENGAGED AND SATISFIED TO DELIVER CUSTOMER EXCELLENCE? 

VUK: “Over the past few weeks, people have been talking now more than ever before about empathy and care for others. I agree that everything starts with talking and planning, but how many of them actually achieve what they intended? The first words our CEO said at the moment the virus began spreading in the UK is that anyone who wants to work from home is free to do so. The possibility of choice is always appreciated and it greatly influences employee happiness. We have a daily 30-minute video team meetings during which we share experiences and advice on how to approach customers and meet their needs. I also want to mention that we started a marketing campaign called “We connect people” in which we publish our previous and existing customers’ articles on Customer Experience Magazine free of charge. We started to offer affiliate opportunities to our CX Judges too.

Learn about Vuk Vukanovic on LinkedIn & visit Awards International website for a list of events and masterclasses.

Read MORE INTERVIEWS of people pivoting their business without sacrificing customer experiences during Covid19.

  • This article is about what people around the world are accomplishing that they may not have if the pandemic never happened. I’m confident that you’ll gain some ideas to try while you’re home.
  • Another article focusses on how a Doctor transitioned his NY psychiatric practice from in-person therapy to ONLINE in ONE WEEK! We spoke about how technology has helped him pivot while still humanizing business, and much more.

HOW ARE YOU PIVOTING YOUR BUSINESS DURING COVAD-19 WITHOUT IMPACTING CX? 

How To Shift Your Strategy Without Hindering CX

How To Shift Your Strategy Without Hindering CX

The coronavirus outbreak has changed the way we live. It’s impacting people very differently, which fascinates me. I decided to take my passion for understanding and studying human behaviors to the next level for a greater purpose. As the pandemic spreads, I’ve been interviewing people around the world to learn about their experiences and strategy to cope, stay calm, and productive. My goal for publishing a collection of stories is to spread great ideas and inspire others to achieve happiness at a time we need it most.

My first article was about silver linings and what people are personally accomplishing that they may not have if the pandemic never happened. My second article was more business strategy focussed, which featured a Doctor who transitioned his NY psychiatric practice from in-person therapy to ONLINE in ONE WEEK! We spoke about how technology has helped him pivot while still humanizing business, and much more.

Today, I’m featuring another successful entrepreneur who is surviving the economic downturn by shifting his strategy while sustaining a customer-first company culture.

(more…)

How To Quickly Pivot To An Online Business Without Sacrificing CX

How To Quickly Pivot To An Online Business Without Sacrificing CX

Since the coronavirus outbreak started, companies have had to shift their strategies to keep their employees and customers safe. Business owners and managers are making difficult decisions and acting fast to adapt to the current unpredictable and challenging time.

I’ve been curious about how leaders are implementing changes without negatively affecting their staff and customer experiences. I interviewed several people across different industries who are known for HUMANIZING BUSINESS. My goal is to provide helpful tips for people migrating to an online business, remote workforce, and other ways of operating in a new environment. The following is my first article of a series.

Meet Dr. Grant Brenner

Board-Certified physician-psychiatrist, entrepreneur, author, teacher, speaker, and not-for-profit board member

Dr. Brenner is the principal and co-founder of Neighborhood Psychiatry, an NYC-based group practice. He has been featured in a variety of top-ranked psychology resources and media as a thought leader and contributor. With almost 20 years in private practice, Dr. Brenner developed a creative, results-driven approach to help his patients understand themselves, identify and breakdown limiting patterns, and realize their most fulfilling and complete potential. It is his personal mission to help others, and through this, change the world for the better.

1. How did you transition to an online business so fast? What advice do you have for others who want to do the same? 

GRANT: We were already equipped in terms of software and the expectation that we wanted to incorporate telepsychiatry into our practice in the future. The element of serendipity combined with general preparedness gave us the technological resources required to make the switch. Two other factors were important. First, we were already using real-time messaging to coordinate workflow and enhance team communication. It was easy to extend this tool to a work-from-home environment. Second, we established a culture of regular team meetings to improve performance on a rolling basis, as our company is in start-up mode. This allowed our staff to feel comfortable with the level of trial-and-error required to make the shift, as our company has been going through ongoing reinvention for the last couple of years anyway.

2. How is technology helping you to humanize business?

GRANT: While we believe that there’s no substitute for person-to-person interactions, our ability to communicate to all customers on our digital platform enables us to send meaningful and pragmatic messages daily throughout the Covid-19 discovery phase as New Yorkers were realizing more drastic adaptations would be necessary.
Technology alone is not sufficient. We make use of good risk communication practices, focusing on supportive, understandable messages based on quality information. Clear and useful instructions, reassurance about continuity of service, and on-demand assistance allows us to connect personally with the majority of our clientele. Even though we made heavier use of direct messaging given the difficulty in playing “phone tag” to have a synchronous conversation, most people nowadays experience a strong sense of messaging using asynchronous communication. Our messaging system feels like texting but has the security needed for a mental healthcare environment.

3. What’s your greatest challenge in continuing to humanize business?

GRANT: For us, patients interact with both administrative staff as well as clinicians. Especially because we are a psychiatric group, this can create an “intimacy divide.” We have to pay attention to the perceived split between caring and business and make sure that the patient journey is compassionate at every step. This is an area we continue to work on, so that clinicians support the office practices, and administrative staff supports the healing environment. 
Creating policies that support the patient experience while also respecting the needs of the business can be challenging, especially when financial issues are as murky as they tend to be with commercial insurance companies. Patients already feel like they are getting the short end of the stick from their insurance plans. We’re in the same boat but are often seen as an extension of a broken system than standing side-by-side with patients. We sometimes catch the heat from disgruntled patients when we’re in the same predicament. We encourage patients to advocate with their insurance companies because that often gets more done than our solo efforts on behalf of patients.

4. What’re your next steps to ensure customer (patient) satisfaction?

GRANT: We are focusing on tightening up the communication process, getting greater subscription to our messaging platforms, and continuing to provide effective messages and patient care. We are looking to expand our services to meet the needs of the current environment, and partner with other service providers to enhance access to a range of services.
We want to offer value to patients beyond useful medication management and are training our staff to offer targeted interventions over the next few months. This is also part of a larger wellness-oriented initiative to lead with “positive psychiatry“.

We believe that in addition to warm, useful, and clear communications early on in patient engagement, offering effective care and therapeutic interventions based on compassion and resilience-building are the best way to build patient satisfaction. There is no substitute for effective treatment. We are in the process of integrating evidence-based tools to track progress and provide actionable feedback for patients to get the most value from working with us.

5. What are some ways you are or plan to keep employees engaged and satisfied to deliver customer excellence?

GRANT: We are serious about taking care of our employees, now more than ever. We encouraged employees to work-from-home ahead of the curve, for example. We have been providing staff development on a regular basis, flexible vacation policies, on-the-job mentoring while expanding employee benefits. Because our leaders are clinicians immersed in direct patient care, coming from integrative, wellness and trauma-informed perspectives, we deeply understand that the well-being of ALL the people involved is critical. Patients, clinicians, administrative staff — if the community is healthy, the customer experience will be robust.

Learn more about Dr. Grant Brenner on LinkedIn, his blog, and website.

What’s YOUR experience in pivoting to an online business during Covid-19? Share your comments below.

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