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How companies will remain unforgettable during the COVID-19 crisis

Companies around the world are stepping up for their employees, customers, and community and taking a moment to do something unforgettable

Published on
March 26, 2020
Imogen Moore

In a time like this when the future is uncertain, companies have the opportunity to become unforgettable. It is bizarre to walk into a supermarket and see empty shelves, no longer see our colleagues every day as working from home becomes the new norm, and peoples lives all around the world become completely transformed by the COVID-19 coronavirus. While the pressure is on and all eyes are on the government to respond, there are companies around the world stepping up for their employees, customers, and the community and taking a moment to do something meaningful, and unforgettable.

Australian supermarket Woolworths have implemented a temporary ‘Community Hour’ - a dedicated shopping hour weekdays from 7am to 8am to allow elderly, vulnerable and disabled customers an opportunity to secure the items they need in a less crowded environment. Coles has also announced that the first hour of trade from 7am on Tuesdays and Thursdays will be for emergency services and healthcare workers including doctors, nurses, paramedics, hospital and ambulance staff, police and firefighters. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 7am - 8am will continue to be for the vulnerable and elderly.

This initiative, albeit not without a few hiccups, has been widely supported by the community with people calling for the initiative to be implemented longer term.

We’ve seen some major changes across all food delivery companies. Uber Eats has announced that in addition to offering no contact delivery, it will start a $5 million fund for more than 22,000 restaurants on it’s Australian and NZ platform, so they can offer promotions to bring in more customers. In addition, Uber Eats is giving restaurants the option of receiving daily payments instead of once a week during the coronavirus pandemic and waiving activation fees for new restaurants that want to sign up, and extending the reach of its platform to include caterers. It comes as fewer people dine out and events are cancelled because of the coronavirus.

It’s not only large corporations that are making changes to business operations. In response to the coronavirus, businesses are now being forced to pivot their business models and reconsider how they can allow customers to access their products and interact with their brand in order to survive. Small restaurants, cafes and family owned businesses are now offering delivery for the first time ever. Food delivery is not a new thing, but it’s taken a global pandemic for some businesses to give their customers easier access to their products and services. For Sydney based businesses, a new site Saving Plates has launched too, that highlights the restaurants now offering takeaway and delivery. Changes that businesses make to their operations now, will likely continue long after the current coronavirus pandemic.

We’ve seen a number of health tech suppliers in the UK respond to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. AccuRx is the UK start-up behind the Chain SMS service, which lets GP practices send text messages to patients, asking them to book tests, send follow-up information, and letting them know when a prescription is ready to collect. AccuRx recently announced it has developed two new products; video consultation and pre-appointment screening to ensure doctors have the tools to support patients who may have symptoms of the virus, or are in self-isolation. Doctors and patients in the UK are already using this technology, which was created to limit the spread of coronavirus. While healthcare has previously been slow to adopt new technologies, we will likely see video consultations with GP’s become the new norm as the future of medicine becomes more digitally enabled.

Ways to be unforgettable:

1. Consider other ways you can get your product or service to your customers

There are many people in government enforced quarantine who have limited access to services and products, and businesses are rapidly being forced to adapt to remote working. Consider if you are in a position where you can offer your products digitally, or provide a digital access point. If you are someone who offers face to face consultations, can you conduct your appointments over video call? Just because people aren’t allowed to leave their homes doesn’t mean they don’t still need your services. They just need a way to get them.

2. Think about your unique offering and how you could adapt to change. Is the COVID-19 crisis creating a gap in the market that your offer can fill.

New or heightened customer needs brought on by the pandemic also create opportunities for innovation. Take the time to understand and listen to your customers to identify the gap and how you could be uniquely placed to fill it. If you are a restaurant for example - think about how you can allow customers to access your products in a different way, instead of just offering delivery. Popular burger chain Bar Luca is selling ‘cook at home’ burger packs where you can purchase all the raw ingredients to make your favourite takeaway burger at home, and Continental Deli makes and sells premixed cocktails in a can eg. the Quaran-tinny.

3. Communicate with your customers

It’s an uncertain time and the environment is rapidly changing. Recently the Australian government enforced a shutdown and now all pubs, clubs, cinemas, gyms and sporting venues are now closed. Keep your customers abreast of all the changes and use all possible channels to do so. Be human and transparent, and offer useful messaging like updated opening hours, delivery services, safety planning and make use of social media such as instagram, twitter, or even community facebook groups to connect with your customers and the public.

A lot of things in this world have changed very suddenly, and while we sit here in isolation, practice social distancing and stay indoors, we will remember the companies that acted during this time.

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