Article Summary: At our annual Company Kick-Off, FullStory CMO Kirsten Newbold-Knipp sat down with three digital experience experts to talk about how their organizations have pivoted to adapt to the Covid-19 crisis. The panel included Matt Eaves, VP of Digital Marketing at University Hospitals; Bobby Stephens, Partner, Digital and Consumer Insights at Deloitte; and Sean O’Brien, CMO and CTO at Modloft. Here are some key takeaways from their conversation.
Check out the webinar, Digital Business: How Industries Adapted DX in 2020 and Beyond, to watch their full conversation.
It’s been said time and time again: The past year’s events have brought about unpredictable changes across all industries. Some–like major online retailers and virtual meeting software providers–have boomed, while many others–like airlines and brick-and-mortar stores–have fought to stay alive.
Regardless of size, industry, or “essential/nonessential” status, businesses and business leaders all have one thing in common: they were caught completely unaware by this crisis.
Not only did organizations need to create entirely new playbooks, they needed to create them quickly and while adapting to new work norms. It goes without saying, but that’s a pretty tall order.
A time for agility
Despite working in vastly different industries–healthcare, strategy & tech services, and retail–a common theme emerged from the panelists during their conversation: Agility is key.
The ability to pivot quickly is typically aligned with “start-up culture” and SMBs, while medium-sized and enterprise organizations are known to move at a more measured pace. However, the onset of the pandemic forced large companies to exercise an agility muscle that had been dormant at many organizations.
“People were adopting more of a small company mantra. ‘Let’s get things out in the market as quickly as possible, let’s look at the data and respond to it very quickly,’” Bobby Stephens of Deloitte said. “‘Perfection is the enemy of good.’ That saying was adopted in the industry. It was interesting to see the agile mindset come into play, and to be able to do it virtually.”
“Perfection is the enemy of good.”
Matt Eaves at University Hospitals says he empowered his teams to be autonomous in their decision making to make the necessary changes happen quickly.
“People on my team stopped asking for permission and just started executing, and that was really important,” Eaves said. “Even when people did take it a little too far or acted too quickly, the consequence of acting was always smaller than if we’d stuck to our old ways of sending things to a committee to be voted on.”
“For my team members, I assured them that if they made a mistake I would provide air cover for them,” he said. “When you empower your folks to do what they do best, more times than not they’re going to make the right decision.”
Across industries, organizations were setting up programs in a matter of weeks–such as curbside pickup–that would have otherwise taken many months to launch.
At University Hospitals, for example, a virtual visit platform was up and running just over two months into the pandemic–a program that Eaves estimates would have taken five years to implement without the pandemic.
Similarly, Modloft quickly initiated a “virtual shopping” program that allowed customers to meet with interior decorators, tour showrooms, and purchase furniture via video conference.
Customer empathy is a non-negotiable
Customers’ needs changed rapidly throughout 2020, and companies worked hard to meet them where they were through new programs. This challenge was felt deeply by the healthcare industry (which tends to be slower to adopt new digital practices) as they dealt with caring for a huge influx of patients in addition to the pandemic’s many other difficulties.
Though many care facilities, like University Hospitals, were able to get virtual visit programs off the ground quickly, getting patients to adopt those programs presented yet another barrier. Visiting a doctor can already be a vulnerable experience–and when you’re visiting that doctor via an unfamiliar platform or technology, that feeling can be greatly amplified.
University Hospitals took action to help their patients feel more comfortable.
“[W]e found that a lot of patients were struggling with the digital aspect of this [virtual visit program], so we had our nurses help them learn their way around before meeting with the doctor,” Eaves said. “This helped them get comfortable with the technology faster and support its continued long-term use.”
Incorporating customer empathy into day-to-day practices like this has allowed many organizations to strengthen their relationships and build customer loyalty during a stressful time, even outside of the healthcare industry.
QR codes: An unexpected hero
Though widely used in Asia for decades, QR codes (or Quick Response codes) had seen relatively modest adoption in the US. However, when the pandemic stifled the use of frequently touched objects like menus, QR codes became a must-have for a variety of businesses.
For example, at Modloft, O’Brien says his teams implemented QR codes as a way for furniture shoppers to make touchless transactions.
And during the height of the pandemic, the hospital visiting hours and policies were fluctuating so rapidly that University Hospital employees couldn’t print and hang up signs quickly enough to reflect the changes. To solve this problem, the hospital implemented QR codes that visitors could scan and be immediately taken to a website with the most current information.
To say that the pandemic has forced companies of all sizes to innovate is an understatement. But many organizations have turned these challenges into opportunities–to adjust their organizational mindset, create more efficient and empathetic best practices, and strengthen their relationships with customers long-term.
Better customer insights–and the ability to understand the why behind the what of customer behavior–are fuel for an organization’s agility. After all, you can’t adapt to your customers’ needs if you don’t know what those needs are. FullStory enables this much-needed agility by surfacing relevant, actionable insights about user behavior that will help you delight your customers and drive retention.
To get the rest of the panel’s expert insights on the pandemic’s impact, watch the webinar.