After the past few years, “the world’s on fire” has almost lost its meaning; we seem to go from one crisis to the next. 2022 has brought its own uncertainties and instabilities, but the current combinations of layoffs in the news, the war in Europe, and rising inflation are pointing toward something most businesses are thinking about: another recession.
Today’s market offers more competition than ever before in virtually every sector. Forty years ago, if you wanted to start a business you had to engage lawyers (face-to-face!), do market research (without the internet!), and figure out how to market yourself (without social media!). Today, you can have a business up and running in a matter of days with a few clicks – things like LegalZoom, Wix, Shopify, and Google Ads, and Insightly have made it easier than ever to start your own business. This means there are likely already a lot of other companies out there that are pursuing this same path, and more will keep coming.
It is a new age for customers too. It is far easier now than ever before for buyers to discover alternative products and services. Add heightened competition to a recession when everyone is watching their dollars, your new business pipeline is likely getting smaller, but your customers are also rationalizing their relationships with vendors.
So what can your company do to help combat this? Well, the grass is always greener where you water it, and now is the time to water your own backyard – both your customers and your people.
Superior Customer Experience Begins with Team Alignment
Let’s start with your customers. The ones you already have; the ones who have already put their trust in you. A recession generally isn’t a time when new customers will be banging down your door, as everyone is tightening their belts and finding ways to be efficient with their budgets. Your job is to make sure your business is as sticky as possible with your existing clients, and doesn’t become dispensable. That is why focusing on customer experience is critical.
One of the only things that truly sets competitors apart, in any industry really, is customer experience, and that must begin with total team alignment. Your sales, marketing, operations, and support teams all need to be working from the same set of rules and data and must all have an understanding of the outcomes the customer needs help achieving. For example, if a customer is having an issue with one of your products and is working with the support team to resolve it, and the sales team doesn’t know about it, it can come off as very tone deaf when they get an email or phone call asking if they want to buy additional products.
What’s the easiest and most efficient way to reach total alignment? Ensure your tools work alongside each other to enable your teams to serve aligned experiences across all moments of your customer journey, like a comprehensive CRM platform that includes salesforce automation, marketing automation, project management, and customer service automation.
Strategic Internal Communication is the Key to Employee Engagement
Next up? Your people. At the beginning of the pandemic, companies did a better than normal job of focusing on team and individual well-being and treating them like… actual people. Unfortunately, we’re all used to the pandemic two and a half years in, and a lot of businesses are trying to get back to the pre-pandemic “status quo.” How is your business doing in that area? Are your employees engaged and happy? You might think this is a back burner discussion during trying economic times, but I assure you it’s just the opposite because the last thing you want to worry about during a recession is the attrition of talent you need to keep.
Internal communication is often cited as one of the top issues in organizations both large and small. How do you make it easy for your teams to talk to one another? Are you setting them up for success by having everyone aligned? Lack of alignment can cause issues between teams, which leads to higher turnover. Keep your teams in sync and engaged with the right tools for the job and help them work smarter, not harder.
Don’t Panic…Just Keep Swimming
It’s easy to panic when everyone is talking about the possibility of a second recession in as many decades. You might worry about your bottom line and how you’ll keep your pipeline healthy and fresh, but in the face of a seismic event, do what the self-help gurus do and control the controllables. Keep your team and your current customers happy and you’ll create a solid foundation to weather the storm.
Karl Laughton is the President and COO of Insightly.