How Brands are Responding to COVID-19
By João Alves
We hope the virus has a short-lived impact, but in the interim, we should brace ourselves for turbulence and have a prepared mindset for the scenarios that may play out.
"Every battle is won before it is ever fought," so said Sun Tzu.
We can see this today.
More than ever, preparation and equanimity is of paramount importance. What we do today and how we all position ourselves will echo throughout the next few years and will set the stage for how customers view and interact with our products and services.
We have seen an amazing response from companies implementing initiatives to help customers and society cope with the new environment we find ourselves in today.
Every company has their own approach and we hope that this quick guide can give you some inspiration to create and apply your own customer-oriented practices.
Many brands are adapting to the new virtual environments we find ourselves in as we work from home. But with new challenges, it doesn't mean we can't stop delivering experiences for customers. Contrary to popular opinion we may learn and innovate on new ways to deliver experiences and come out stronger on the other side.
15 amazing examples that we have been seeing are from:
- Calm App
- Just Eat
- 1 Password
- Get Your Guide
- Pret A Manger
It’s reassuring to see how technology is able to alleviate anxiety and increase productivity. Slack’s founder, Stewart Butterfield has been tweeting making sure that people feel safe and equipped to solve problems and bridge the distance and communication gap that this situation has been bringing to us all.
Calm has approached in a very different way. As with their marketing campaigns, they make sure to add value and introduce a ‘product demo’ through landing pages. An example of this is their blog post on Covid-19 and the importance of taking a moment to breathe deeply. Subtly, Calm is able to offer readers a moment of mindfulness, which is in fact their end product. Freemium just took on a new meaning here, and I’m sure that other uses, like myself, appreciate Calm’s customer-centric approach.
Chattermill customer Deliveroo has made some quick changes to how they deliver food to customers by offering a contact free delivery service. Providing the convenience for customers to pick their food up from the door and maintain social distancing.
Major takeaway deliver firms are also in talks with the UK government on providing car packages to the elderly.
Their business has a direct line of communication to the consumers and restaurants who use the platform, many of which are small and independent businesses who may be particularly affected by the impact of coronavirus.
They are using their technology and network of riders to help vulnerable in times of difficulty while adapting their service so they can still deliver a great experience.
On top of serving the demand side of their customer base, Just Eat is being prescient and thoughtful in helping the supply side of their business. For example, the company has recently announced a 30-day emergency support package for restaurants on its platform to help them through disruption caused by the coronavirus crisis, helping with funding for existing restaurant partners and waiving sign-up fees for new restaurants joining the platform. That’s true, holistic, long-term oriented customer-centricity.
In the middle of all this mania, some industries have been subject to overwhelming demand. Delivery services, especially food delivery, is one of these industries.
DoorDash’s strategy to control the situation has been through clear and detailed communication with its users.
In their most recent Medium post on Covid-19, the company puts the situation into perspective, cutting through emotion with logic and pragmatism and optimism. This situation is tough for customers and businesses alike, which makes it necessary for all of us to understand the hardships and support our neighbour.
DoorDash very clearly communicates this and makes sure that their communities come first. We can all learn from this and apply to our own communities. The effects should compound, and therefore, truly make a difference over the next year.
Other companies have been emphasizing on safety measures. The Covid-19 outbreak has flooded paranoia and hygiene doubts, therefore communicating clearly one’s safety protocol cannot be underestimated. An example of this is how Laundrapp has been dealing with issues of health and safety - a factor that has become a priority for many of its customers. In a recent blog article, Laundrapp’s team clarified what they are doing to prevent the spread of Coronavirus. That includes requests for some of their customers who display symptoms to avoid contact with drivers and to restrain from placing orders. This care for people’s safety and clarifications around hygiene like contactless collection and making sure that their staff are following the necessary precautions makes for a much more trustworthy service. This sort of customer-orientation is what makes a difference in these recurring-revenue, service-based businesses that rely so heavily on customer retention.
Trainline has set up a dedicated wiki page to help customers navigate through the uncertain times. With travel one key sector to be impacted by COVID it’s a great move to help customers plan their journeys.
Lots of e-commerce and retail brands are adapting their approach to selling to customers.
If the situation progresses and people in the US and UK have to self isolate, increased online activity will provide you with a more captive audience. For retailers that mainly rely on bricks and mortar interaction, now is the time to step-up your online efforts.
Clearpay are encouraging customers to follow them on TikTok.
1password is playing it’s part to help businesses operate securely as they take their operations away from the office and into a remote environment.
They’re removing the 30-day trial period on 1Password Business so companies can start keeping their teams secure without getting finance involved.
Get Your Guide
Get Your Guide understands that times like now is when we should all double down on customer-centricity. It’s great to see this from such esteemed companies - putting the customer first and thinking for the long-term. GetYourGuide has refunded the bookings of millions of travelers, funding their payment provider to handle the load, as well as building special tools for mass cancellation. It’s this type of action that maintains companies’ advantages and increases customer loyalty.
Employees at companies have been stressing greatly from the Covid-19 outbreak. The virus’ effects on both demand ( and supply has put a lot of strain on the economy and thus on business operations. With those problems, employees have been fearing cost-streamlining, layoffs, and overall lack of productivity. However, many companies have been trying to bring comfort to their team. After all, customer-centricity begins with our own employees! Shopify is a great example: The e-commerce giant has been offering its employees a $1,000 stipend to purchase any necessary office supplies and ease the transition to remote work. Noted, not all companies are Shopify’s size and can do this (for as much as they want to), but not all help is capital related. What matters here is the principle, which we can all emulate. Gather inspiration from Shopify and think how you can make your team feel calmer, safer, empowered, and impactful during this time of constant worry and creeping doubt.
Pret A Manger and Virtuo
Other companies have displayed admirable selflessness and altruism by providing free offerings.
Two great examples are Pret A Manger and Virtuo. Both companies have gone to amazing lengths to help not only customers, but also our healthcare workforce:
Before the government imposed lockdown, Pret was offering free hot drinks and 50% discount on any other product for NHS workers.
Virtuo has been offering free rides to healthcare professionals, working tirelessly to contain the spread of Covid-19, all whilst saving lives.
These efforts are noble and beautiful to see as we all come together to get through this hardship. Let’s all think how can we all emulate this initiative in some fashion, and help our community.
PerkBox and Scouted
Another result from the Covid-19 crisis is isolation, which in turn forces people to work from home. With that comes countless issues. Working from home deliberately for one day a week is very different from being forced to be disciplined and keep the same productivity level day in and day out. Nonetheless, this has been a challenge that most of us have been forced to deal with and overcome.
Some companies are attempting to make it easier for us by voicing best practices and suggesting the best techniques to improve our habits.
Two interesting ones are Scouted and Perkbox. Both have been writing content around how to become more productive working from home and how to remain calm during times of crisis.
Perkbox has focused on helping companies and their employees to remain connected while working remotely. In their blog article, they focus on discipline, accountability and fostering a sense of community. Some of the interesting and useful advice put forward by the Perkbox team are how companies should be setting the right rituals and project expectations daily so that leaders don’t obsess about activity; it’s easy to micromanage, especially with a remote workforce, but now is the time to show your employees that you trust them.
Scouted co-founder, Jacqueline Loeb, has penned an article on LinkedIn suggesting original routine patterns like ‘monday morning weekend banter’, ‘Tuesday team video lunch’ and ‘Friday Spotify playlist’. It’s refreshing and energizing to read new approaches from companies in how to preserve and reinforce their cultures in the face of forced isolation.
At Chattermill, we have been doing similar things like random daily coffees, which assigns two members of our whole team randomly to have a quick 10min coffee at a certain time of the day, as well as our weekly book club discussions and end of week drinks over Zoom.
On top of that, our team has been working incredibly hard to release free features to help companies all around the world stay on top of Covid-19. We believe that sharing knowledge and insight at times like this is essential and makes tremendous difference.
Understandably, upholding customer-focus and customer-oriented operations through this tough period is incredibly challenging. But it’s what will differentiate winners of tomorrow. And we believe that reading about and studying new and out-of-the-box ideas from other companies on how to maintain morale and promote positivity is the best thing we can all do right now!
We hope that these examples from such amazing companies can inspire you to come up with novel ways to help manage your teams better and plan for the future with equanimity and customer-centricity.
As Shakespeare is famous for saying: “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”
Let’s find some positivity from this situation and use this as an opportunity to move slowly and thoughtfully, which as many of us who are always moving at 200 mph know well, is a hell of a luxury.
Let’s all keep calm, work hard, be positive.
We’ll all get through this stronger than ever!