By Neal Keene, Field CTO of Smart Communications

The coronavirus pandemic hit businesses quickly and unexpectedly and introduced significant challenges and a need for rapid response. While no one expected the massive impact of this crisis and the speed at which it happened, one thing is certain – we must adjust to the new “normal.” Experts predict that even when the crisis is under control, its effects will last far longer than a few weeks or months.

Below we highlight a few of the challenges businesses are facing in the age of COVID-19 and ways to improve digital agility in order to overcome this disruption and lead meaningful conversations with customers at a time when it is more important than ever.

Need for Speed

Businesses are quickly adjusting their processes and operations to meet a new set of customer demands and employee needs, while continuing to meet regulatory and compliance requirements. Even before this crisis, KPMG found that 80 percent of revenue growth will be reliant on digital offerings and operations by 2022. COVID-19 has undeniably accelerated the need for digital transformation, making it imperative for businesses to transform the way they operate. So, how do businesses continue to provide the high-level digital experience customers need and expect during this now “all-digital world”?

Especially during a time of crisis, the cloud needs to be in your arsenal. This pandemic has further increased the demand for digital capabilities including self-service portals, mobile communications, eCommerce portals, and more. Moving to a cloud-first, scalable solution where digital, adaptive engagement and process automation enable customer-driven interactions, guided conversations, and personalized communications provides the infrastructure needed to support convenient, compliant, accessible communications that can be quickly delivered through the customer’s preferred channel.

With the vast majority of people now working from home and an increased desire for “hands-off” approaches, reducing reliance on print communications is key. Those companies that have invested in cloud-based technologies focused on digital delivery are better positioned to quickly shift their focus to all-digital or nearly all-digital communications more quickly and can rest assured that these communications are timely, personalized, and interactive.

Quickly Adjusting to New Policies and Changes

While face-to-face meetings are at least temporarily a thing of the past, how do you reach those customers that relied on in-person interactions? With the speed at which new policies and changes are coming, companies who were caught off guard are realizing the urgent need for a solution to quickly replace those transactions that were historically done in person.

Take the recent launch of the US Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) as an example.  In response to the new Small Business Administration (SBA) relief effort, businesses began flooding lenders with applications to take advantage of newly available funding, which offered federally backed loans on a first-come, first-serve basis. With the initial $349 billion in funds depleted in less than two weeks, small businesses are now anticipating the next wave of funding to be approved by the House, which would add an additional $310 billion to the government-backed program.

If you’ve seen people standing in line on the news or the flood of complaint articles appearing online, that’s because the PDF form was released before banks were ready to process the influx of applications, let alone provide a digital way to accept them from borrowers. This could have been prevented via a completely mobile guided process to apply and file for essential relief. Companies that never want to experience this frustration again, will certainly now be encouraged to transform their forms process.

Improving Business Continuity

Brian Solis, a world-renowned digital analyst, anthropologist, futurist, and now global innovation evangelist at Salesforce, recently stated: “One thing I’m sure of: we’re not going back to business as usual. We need a new perspective to see problems and opportunities in a new light. What’s happening now is a tremendous exposure to weaknesses in digital transformation and innovation initiatives. Beyond infrastructure modernization, organizations need to invest in systems and operations that learn from shifts in behavior, preferences, and aspirations.”

Businesses of all shapes and sizes are adjusting to operational risks and searching for new ways to reshape their business continuity plans. Specifically related to communications, EY emphasizes that “clear, transparent and timely communications are necessary when creating a platform to reshape the business and to secure ongoing support from customers, employees, suppliers, creditors, investors and regulatory authorities.”

As communication volume continues to surge, at the same time as internal operations are far from business as usual, successful companies need to be in a position in which business users are in control and can quickly implement changes and manage processes quickly and easily, without the reliance of IT.

Where do you go from here?

It’s more important now than ever before for businesses to be equipped with the tools and capabilities needed to be more digital-focused, agile and customer-centric. In fact, digital agility will be a key factor in determining who continues to struggle and who perseveres and emerges stronger once the COVID-19 pandemic has subsided.

The good news is, there are solutions that can empower businesses to succeed. Need help navigating your next steps toward achieving digital agility in the age of COVID-19 and sustaining it moving forward? Connect with us and one of our experts will be in touch.

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