We entered the age of postponing. Coronavirus pandemy restricted not only our social life but just life in general. We are forced to move many of our needs and hobbies indefinitely – be it a drink with friends or a bank appointment. But what happens once this new situation is over and life returns to the (seemingly) old tracks? Even companies that still resisted online solutions, should now embark on it.
Economic analyses show that crises trigger the so-called deferred consumption. People hold over their needs and joys until after the restrictions are over. However, once they are lifted, we see a huge spike in demand for things and services that were unavailable for weeks or months. As a result the suppliers of these services are overwhelmed despite the fact that some groups suffered economic losses. Thus one of the potential scenarios is that economic repercussions will be short term. But only for those who prepare.
Imagine all the postponed medical examinations, cars driven without technical inspection, or people who will need to figure out how to go on with their mortgage, credits and other financial products. On top of that all those who will need to slow down and relax – parents who had to fill the shoes of teachers, chefs, coaches, friends and who will now definitely need someone to take care of them at least for a little while. Families who will want much deserved (most likely domestic) holiday.
What happens when government restrictions are lifted and everyone wants to satisfy their accumulated needs in the services area? How do all the large and small businesses, restaurants, entrepreneurs grapple with the increased demand? Service providers cannot go back to business as usual that was working just fine before the crisis. They wouldn’t stand a chance. They have to make up for their lost revenue. And that is much harder to do in services than in production. More work equals bigger turnover. But it doesn’t mean greater profit if productivity and effectiveness stay the same. That is why companies should now be working on solutions that will increase their productivity as soon as the restrictions are lifted. Even companies that couldn’t see any online opportunities before the crisis, should now seriously consider them. Here are some solutions you can start working on right away.
The very basis is to create a booking (or reservation) system. An easy to navigate calendar with clearly marked available time slots that customers can book is not only effective and time efficient but also convenient – both for you and your customers. They save time because they don’t have to phone in to schedule appointments. You increase your “production” capacity because you can fully focus on your work and don’t have to deal with the calendar. Just a side note: hiring an assistant is not a solution. Besides the fact that your salary cost will go way up, you still won’t give your customers a chance to schedule an appointment anytime it crosses their mind.
Services hit by restrictions will certainly be very exposed when these are finally out of the picture. Some services might be abundant but some are essential. We cannot go on without doctors, many things still need to be handled in person at banks and offices. We will want to shake the social frustration caused by isolation so we will probably take bars and restaurants by storm. Demand will be huge. So it’s smart to keep some places and slots in your calendar for people, who may not have been so fast, but really want your services and are ready to pay for a priority date. In short, it’s better to add some premium services that are win-win for everyone. You will get your money faster and your customer will be happy to get your service sooner.
In pre-corona times many self-employed people and small entrepreneurs did not mind if their customers occasionally canceled their reservations. It was simply a risk they could take. There were only a handful of providers who penalized cancelling or missing your lesson or appointment. If you want to make up for the profit lost during the quarantine you cannot afford this anymore. You should only make reservations possible upon card details submission and clearly define your sanction rules. Just as your cancellation fees for your hotel reservation on booking.com grows higher with your stay approaching, cancelling reservations for your services should also be linked to losing the deposit.
Digitalization is not just about increasing effectiveness. Good booking system can do much more – from collision monitoring to sending notifications about new reservations or cancellations and automated communication with the customer. When everything runs smoothly customer experience is improving. And sometimes that’s exactly what makes your customers come back to you. At the same time you will be able to collect customer data. That will help you improve your services and communication and eliminate mistakes and errors that are common with paper reservations.
In short, even though this time is challenging – for all of us without exception – you can use it to prepare for what’s coming with higher consumption and accumulated problems, needs and tastes.
Trust me, you’re not alone in this. You have a service, we have know-how and experience in changing business models and building successful services. Let’s pick each other’s brains and come up with a solution. Shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.