Seven things businesses can do now to recover quickly after lockdown

Tom Walley, General Manager at Corporate Traveller Australia

A proportion of businesses that are still operating healthily in the current lockdown may have slowed their pace as they are waiting for the full re-opening of the economy.

Businesses would rather use the downtime to re-strategise and plan for the post-lockdown bounce back, believing it is a great opportunity to return to a pre-covid world, smarter.

Tom Walley is the General Manager of Corporate Traveller Australia, the Small and Medium Enterprise business travel division of Flight Centre Travel Group.

With significant experience in leadership and sales across the UK and Australia and having worked with many companies including customers and supplier partners, Tom has an in-depth understanding of the SME business sector and the drivers of growth and profitability. 

Businesses should develop plans to capitalise on opportunities when they can trade freely.

“Despite the lockdowns and downturn in the travel industry, we’ve continued innovating, releasing new capabilities to improve the customer experience now and into the future.”

“Other industries can expect demand to return and should use this unprecedented time to take stock and make decisions to re-invent parts of their business to better serve their customers.”

“Its an opportunity to flourish and get ahead of competitors during the early bounce back.”

Tom shares his seven ideas for businesses to implement and recover quickly after lockdown.

Marketing and sales strategy

Its very important to have a marketing and sales strategy ready to launch post-lockdown. Its common for businesses to often cut marketing budgets during economic downturns.

However, marketing helps enterprises to not only build their future customer base but is also a critical function for retaining customers with brand touch points and retention offers.

Now can be a good time for businesses to review their marketing and sales resource ratio mix.

Drive operational effectiveness with existing technology to automate sales and marketing. Its a chance to bolster marketing capability and develop an optimised post-lockdown strategy.

Technological innovations

Its important to innovate through your existing technology to differentiate your brand. Innovation can help your business stay competitive and be profitable over the long term.

Its critical for innovations to be laser focused, meet the changing needs of customers, leverage existing technology wherever possible, and be supported by a culture of innovation to empower front-line employees to share new ideas and improve the customer experience.

Corporate Traveller enhanced their travel booking platform SAVI during the pandemic. The platform now features enhanced traveller safety capabilities with greater policy control.

A Clean Hotels Indicator and SAVI Credits provide visibility and utilisation of unused ticket credits, helping businesses emerge from lockdowns focused on credits and cost-controls.  

Cashflow positive strategy

Now is the time to negotiate better terms with suppliers and revise any processes and systems preventing you from managing cashflow by creating a cashflow positive strategy.

If the business or enterprise is deploying a monthly invoicing model, executives should consider sending invoices as they complete certain work to encourage consistent cashflow.

Reviewing the pricing of products and services if they haven’t done so for awhile, can help.

Customer service functions

Every business should strengthen their customer service function to retain customers. Good customer service is key to building customer loyalty and increasing referrals.

Enterprises will need to maintain a balance between digital and human support to customers. Customer service should ultimately be human-centred, with technology as a support.

If your budget allows, consider investing in AI like a chat function to improve efficiencies and address smaller issues, while retaining customer service people for higher level support.

At the end of the day, customers want to be able to speak to a person and know their issue or feedback has been heard. Now is the time to also focus on training customer service staff.

Ensure they are educated on your products or services and are well-trained to resolve issues, communicate professionally and empathetically, and respond well to disgruntled customers.

Business reporting to assess performance

Improved business reporting provides insights about performance, strengths and weaknesses. 

Pre-COVID business models’ weaknesses and strengths will be amplified and its critical that what was measured pre-COVID is still applicable now and if not, establish a new baseline.

The company’s management team will want the important numbers and metrics to provide a full picture of their business’s position and performance, strengths, and weaknesses.

Creating these reports now will enable these teams to find and address the issues, and the opportunities that will place their business in a better position post-lockdown.

Human resource management

The human resources function in every organisation remains a critical component of the business during lockdown. Its thus paramount to involve a human resources professional.

Human resource directs every living resource of your business and is responsible for cultivating a healthy and productive environment. However, HR can also be used strategically.

Empower HR to use available data to create strategies for the future of the business.

This facilitates providing the company with crucial information on outsourcing and cost management, allowing the business to better control finances and direct growth. 

HR should know where the business is heading to recruit and train employees effectively.

Companies hire and train employees with the skills needed now but a more economical, practical, and future-proof approach ensures HR have anticipation about future growth.

Investing in training existing employees first ensures the workforce is prepared for changes.

Travel and expense policy 

As business travel has become more complex in a pandemic environment, it will need to be considered in the business’ strategy and will require robust policy and procedure changes.

Having said that, maintaining travel, when it is safe to do so, makes good business sense. 

Companies that travel know that doing business on a face-to-face basis helps them to develop relationships and secure sales more effectively than in a virtual meeting.

Businesses should therefore take the opportunity of lockdown to update travel policies and procedures while putting great emphasis on health, safety, flexibility, and budgeting.

Enterprises can also build a contingency budget in case borders open sooner than expected.

Travel management partners can help in providing real-time travel information updates through technology and an experienced team that can advise on navigating restrictions.