Vsourz COVID-19 Update

By Vsourz - 24 April 2020
We live in highly uncertain times. Within a matter of weeks what we used to know as normal has significantly changed. Tomorrow, let alone next month, presents a whole raft of unprecedented challenges.

Like most organisations, at Vsourz, we’ve taken the necessary steps to protect the health and wellbeing of our 200 team members across our 5 global offices. We are working from home and adhering to the relevant government advice in each country.

Inevitably there will be a very real human cost to this crisis. We’d like to take this opportunity to wish all of those that we’ve worked with, past and present, friends, family and anyone else reading this post good health and the very best in coping with everything this virus has disrupted and will continue to challenge. Our best wishes are similarly with those businesses struggling with declining custom, cash flow issues and having to furlough people. And of course our sympathy goes out to all of those that have lost loved ones.

We’ve all seen the monumental efforts of those working to keep us fed and well. Our thanks too goes out to the food suppliers, drivers and those staffing the essential stores that are still open to put food on the nations tables. And of course those many people looking after our health in the NHS and supporting sectors.

We’re very much still in business.

Amongst all of this, we feel we all must stay positive and proactively look for opportunities in the face of COVID19 and move forward. Both for our own business and for and on behalf of our clients. Therefore, we’ve also been working hard to adapt to the new COVID19 impacted business landscape we now all find ourselves operating in.

Simply put, we want to be able to do all that we can to help clients, both existing and prospective, to get through this period and come out the other side stronger. Stronger, ready and prepared for the flurry of activity that will no doubt ramp up as people get back to some measure of life and work as normal.

As such, we’ve been proactively reaching out to all of our existing clients to understand their individual situations. Where possible we’ve been helping them to arrive at shared action plans to keep their digital business operations protected from the worst. Be that helping with the transition to online working, through pivoting business models or plans and accelerating to digitally enabled services. We remain here ready and equipped to help grow digital success.

This will prove even more important as more people find themselves connected with the outside world via online channels.

We’re uniquely positioned in many ways to really help. Our “On Demand Digital Delivery” services are ideally suited for changing workforce patterns. For businesses or agencies who might have furloughed key people we can quickly and temporarily field our multi skilled developers to fill skills gaps and hit the ground running quickly. This in turn can allow you to get the work done, reduce costs and increase your ability to bring any furloughed staff back as things pick up.

On the upside, now perhaps more than ever, we have the time to better prepare for future opportunities. For those that find themselves preparing to ramp out of the corona slowdown we can undertake the full end-end gamut of planning for and accelerating website projects, ecommerce and digital marketing. We can help progress digital success, fast.

Further, our blended approach to near and far outsourcing provides digital talent near you in four global locations working in partnership to ensure the highest quality delivery. Whilst our engine room in India allows us to deliver services significantly below market cost averages. We can typically undercut internal costs by 50%, helping you protect your bottom line.

Digital Opportunities Amongst Coronavirus’s Disruption

The new normal, when it arrives, will impact how we, you and your business operate. Our guidance below looks to the opportunities in the midst of all this with the intention of providing some important considerations to be thinking about, and where possible, acting on to aid our shared recoveries.

Reconnect with your customers

Right now, you’re likely to be confronting a whole range of customer led constraints, from consumer confidence impacting spending, through to people prioritising the here and now as opposed to shopping for holidays or new goods and services. There’s every chance these constraints will continue to be felt for many months.

We all know that it’s an evolving situation. Exploring in dialogue with your customers how you can support them not only keeps you in touch and top of mind but also will provide key insights to help you plan for the changes you’ll need to make. Crucially, with empathy as to their situations. As such there’s no better time to reconnect with your customers.

  • Conduct online panels, workshops, webinars and 1-1s
  • Try and understand from your customers what their “new normal” will be
  • What are their expectations of you likely to become?
  • And keep in regular contact, as its likely to evolve

Where we can help:

  • Online microsites, panels, surveys or video conferencing to help you connect virtually with your customers
  • CRM installs, improvements or migrations
  • Email campaigns and marketing automation
Review your digital touchpoints

People are working from home and perspex shields are going up in supermarkets. All the pubs are closed and delivery companies are leaving boxes a safe 2 meters from peoples doors to help enforce the all important social distancing. Meanwhile it’s almost impossible to reach your bank or mobile phone company on the phone.

Online grocery shopping never quite took off the way that people expected and now it is what everyone wants. Overnight, home video conferencing has become the norm for friends and family to connect. People are seeking wider online entertainment options beyond the netflix binge, taking more online courses, engaging with online fitness workouts and even participating in online bakeoffs.

The result is that nearly all human contact has been removed across the customer journey.

As such we’re witnessing an accelerated migration to online services. What was once a part of any brand’s customer experience has overnight become the mainstay for the majority.

With a somewhat mandated need for people right now to be more digitally connected with each other, we also see opportunities in ensuring that your brand and business is best placed and optimised to be a relevant part of their online time.

  • Refresh your customer understanding
  • Review their pain points and map revised customer journeys for the “new normal”
  • Create engagement maps exploring new ways to create online value
  • Consider features to help to facilitate important human connections, albeit virtually. For example through video or even virtual reality.
  • Think about where you can offer positive messages, content and engagement that helps people through these times alongside helping to build your brand
  • Review the effectiveness of your online channels and consider where you can evolve, improve and optimise

Where we can help

  • Informing your thinking with best practice and competitor analysis
  • Strategising, designing and prototyping customer journey improvements
  • Deploying data led and iterative improvements to your customer experience
  • Moving offline retail to fully fledged ecommerce platforms
  • Ominchannel content planning and creative asset production for text, images and video
  • Developing self service digital utility and customer services
Offer a helping hand to those that need it

Wherever in the world you may be based or have previously been busy acquiring and serving customers there will now, rightly, be a massive amount of time and energy being re-deployed to slow the spread of the virus.

Elsewhere, across non essential goods, we’re already seeing disruptions to supply chains. Those supplying closed restaurants are suffering or closing themselves. No one is buying from the high street and so on. As a result, non essential providers of goods and services are under pressure.

Now is a great time to create a digital initiative to support those that might need it. In doing so, not only can your organisation help people or other companies out, it can also create meaningful engagement and brand equity to help carry you into recovery. In some cases you may even find opportunities to develop new services or revenue streams to recoup those lost elsewhere.

  • If possible offer free or discounted periods to those that might need some assistance
  • If you have services that may be beneficial to hard hit sectors, seek partnerships. For example an online logistics company could offer to help a small retailer with fulfillment giving them an essential lifeline
  • Consider how you might be able to use your data and channels to provide experiences that brighten up someone’s day
  • Move offline content that may help people learn or keep them entertained, such as events or learning, to the online environment

Where we can help:

  • Designing and building landing pages, microsites or completely new websites, sections or apps to realise your new ideas
  • Integrating data propositions and linking up APIs for joint ventures and new initiatives
  • Custom data analytics informing richer customer engagement
  • Rich media content production
Evolve your communication strategy

Towards recovery, we’ll need to re-build momentum, and re-engage. Stelios, a third owner in Easyjet, said recently that the airline post Corona would, “feel more like a start-up trying to find a few profitable routes for a few aircraft”

Those that come out with a lack of empathy as to their customers current situations may quickly find a cold shoulder. For many that may have been laid off, lost income or accrued debt, the hard sell is likely not to wash.

With increased community spirit, providing a helping hand with a real and genuine customer purpose will likely be the order of the day.

  • Use your data to prioritise meaningful and personal engagement online with your top customers, building human relationships and loyalty
  • Look after the wellbeing of key people and empower your teams to be on the side of your customers.
  • Use your website and social channels to transparently communicate the status of your services and operations
  • And when the time is right, how things will change and how you intend to continue to benefit them

Where we can help:

  • CRM implementations, segmentations and scripting for new campaigns or evolved strategies
  • Intranet improvements and internal communication campaigns
  • Internally facing digital content production
  • Social media strategy and management
  • Website or ecommerce maintenance and ad hoc improvements
  • Marketing automations to streamline processes and create efficient outreach and engagement
Empower and motivate your remote workforce

People are anxious about their health and their future. In the UK we’ve already heard of a number of agencies furloughing up to 80% of their staff. We do a lot of work in the travel sector, which has been particularly hard hit, with BA alone suspending more than 30,000 staff.

Those that remain are there to keep the show on the road. At the same time clients & customers are at home, and whereas many will be trying to balance their time looking after kids and adjusting to this new way of working, business in some measure continues.

Regular internal communication is critical, and as a business leader letting your people know that they are valued and appreciated at this time is more important than ever.

Remote workers are faced with different challenges. There are new distractions at home, not to mention the potential for isolation to have a detrimental effect on wellbeing.

As a result, your cloud based systems and collaboration platforms are more essential than ever. We’ve already seen various organisations that we work with coming to quickly realise some of the limitations of the systems and processes that they have built not scaling or being fit for purpose to manage an entire workforce transitioning to remote working.

  • Assess any gaps in how fit for purpose your internal collaboration systems are for distributed remote working
  • Offer support and training for those that may need it
  • Create positive engagements, for example making online meetings fun, or providing a social time or pub quiz. People will value levity through this period
  • Encourage people to keep learning and developing by taking online courses

Where we can help

  • Cloud based working recommendations, installs and integrations
  • Collaboration software customisations and training
  • Learning management software
  • Digital assets for internal communication campaigns
Automate processes to drive efficiencies

You may find that with less people either working at their most productive or in the event that you’ve had to furlough staff that the demands on the time of those people left working productively in the business are actually higher.

In today’s world, there’s so much that can be automated. From data entry, to analysis and reporting through a huge range of marketing automations. In the midst of previous busyness you might have never found the time to stop, assess and drive forward the improvements that automation presents simply as a function of time and attention.

  • Redeploy time saved from internal meetings and as a result of demand to review and assess your internal processes and systems
  • Engage experts to help you understand where automation may drive out internal efficiencies
  • Roll out what you can now, and plan for any larger or more costly improvements for later when things improve

Where we can help

  • Operations and digital process audits and improvement recommendations
  • Automation setups, customisations and maintenance
  • Advanced BI dashboards, reporting and analytics
Plan for a Different Future

Although it’s still early days, a number of theorists are already predicting that we’ll see significant changes to the way people and businesses interconnect wrought as a product of Coronavirus. It’s likely we’ll see heightened expectations of online experience, customers seeking authenticity and a stronger sense of community.

At the same time those that have been able have been quick to pivot. In urban centres popular cocktail bars now do home delivery. Numerous grocers and bakers have quickly moved to deliver online box shopping to help keep the nation nourished and protect their businesses.

Taking stock, exploring the impact of these changes and formulating plans to evolve and benefit will prove defining for many businesses in the next 12 months.

  • Review your value proposition
  • Map scenarios to pivot, evolve, retain or recover your relevance, particularly online
  • Plan to be flexible and adapt, there is likely a number of challenges and changes on the horizon we can’t as yet predict

Where we can help

  • A strategic thought partner to help ideate a more digital future
  • Workshop and planning facilitation (Virtual or otherwise at the end of lockdown)
  • Shaping and delivering digital strategy and tactics for the new normal
Re-establish your purpose

There’s a tangible positive community spirit unheard of a few weeks ago. People are looking out for each other, volunteers are amassing to help the vulnerable in society. People across the country are recognising and celebrating key workers.

Whereas charities are struggling to raise funds, many of their services are in higher demand than ever before, highlighting the many needs in society that may have not been so widely understood previously.

All these changes will continue to be felt. A compelling purpose for your organisation that stands to connect with a heightened societal focus may well aid your recovery

  • Review your corporate social responsibility activities and how you engage in society, demonstrating your purpose beyond profit.
  • Come back to your purpose, what value to you offer people and imagine how it might be received or need to change given a period of recovery

Where we can help

  • Online experience and portals to facilitate CSR
  • Engaging digital campaigns to share your messages and impact
Lay the foundations for a strong recovery

Finally, working under lockdown will not be permanent. At some stage the curve will be flattened and governments will relax the current working constraints that we find ourselves under. By the time that this happens people will be well and truly ready to get back into the swing of things, and many will be ready for a meal out, a pint and they’ll once again start to book holidays and buy things.

But the world will be a different place. The air may be cleaner, but may well feel thicker. Take this time to plan scenarios, what happens given an increase in sales into recovery, a peak to remedy the trough. How will you operate differently, and be ready for the changes that are coming? How will you be best placed to maximise the opportunities?

Whereas it may be a stretch for many protecting your marketing spend and optimising your activity will lay the foundation for a stronger recovery.

Where we can help

  • Search engine optimisation, gearing for more reach given changing plans
  • Paid media campaigns (adword, facebook etc) set up, testing and preparedness
  • Refreshing and building your evolved digital roadmaps
  • Data planning and assessment for the “new normal”
We’re here to help

If at any time through your own journey to manage your business through this unprecedented uncertainty if you’d value some advice or support we’re here for you. When you find yourself in a position to be able to move forward your digital presence, marketing or develop and refresh your digital roadmap we’d love to hear from you. We’re confident we can help, especially if you’re looking for a trusted and cost advantageous delivery partner. Meanwhile wishing you health and positivity.

 

Tarang Patel,
CEO