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By Sanjay Khatnani, Managing Partner, J2 Solutions

Just a few short months ago, businesses were plugging along, business-as-usual—executing on well-thought-out business strategies, nurturing customer relationships and driving sales. Then, seemingly overnight, the world changed. The entire world! Nobody could have predicted what would await us—personally, economically, physically, or even emotionally—as COVID-19 unleashed its unrelenting fury across the globe.

As a result, the way people think, work, and act have been flipped on their side, forcing businesses to rethink… well, everything. Sadly, in the global marketplace, we are seeing many businesses fail or barely manage to stay afloat. Others, however, are using the opportunity to think outside the box, innovate and find new ways to satisfy customers to continue to drive revenue. The arrow in their quiver? Data.

In times of crisis and uncertainty, businesses need to make smarter decisions with greater urgency. In other words, there’s no better time than now to utilize data to inform your decision making.

Here are four ways you can use data to maintain continuity and position yourself for success post-crisis:

Build loyalty and decrease churn

  • Use data to find customer segments that are most profoundly impacted by COVID-19 and identify ways to support them in the short term. For example, you might offer more options at lower price points or flexible payment terms. The key, here, is offering a tailored approach—not a one-size-fits-all. While you are providing greater flexibility and support to help you retain your most vulnerable customers, you are minimizing the financial impact on your business by making those concessions only where needed—without blanketing the approach across your entire customer base.

Meet your customers where they are today

  • Look at your current customer base and identify which product or service features are being used most amid the crisis, and by whom. Chances are, those patterns are nothing like what they were three months ago. Your data can help you understand your customers’ needs and behaviors in response to COVID-19, which you can use to adjust your offerings, go-to-market strategies and marketing channels. With that, you can intelligently upsell to existing customers and even target clusters of new customers with offerings that are most relevant to them in the here and now.

Look for new markets

  • You can also use data to conduct an external analysis of market behavior to identify potential new markets. For example, some geographical regions have been more affected by the pandemic than others, which may temporarily close doors to some existing markets and open doors to others. You might also identify new opportunities in new markets to meet a critical need (local distilleries that started making hand sanitizer, for example).

Streamline internal processes

  • Customer behavior is only one piece of the puzzle; how are your employees adjusting to the sudden shift in the workplace—and how is it affecting business? Look at data related to employee performance. Do a productivity analysis and measure the time it takes to complete certain tasks compared to pre-COVID times. If inefficiencies are revealed, identify what factors might be contributing to individual or team performance—and address them as necessary. You may recognize the need for more frequent touchpoints or better productivity tools and software.

As businesses are forced to pivot their strategies to both minimize the financial and operational impact of the crisis and uncover new opportunities to thrive in its wake, their success will live and die by the data. We are all in unchartered waters and the unknowns are mounting. Use your data to turn some of the unknowns into insight; get a better understanding of your customers and your business amid this time of crisis and make intelligent, informed decisions in response.

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