Consulting During COVID-19Hannah Gizzi
COVID-19 has impacted every industry, but which industries have you seen impacted the most?
Over the past year, nearly every industry has been impacted by the effects of COVID-19, though some have unfortunately been affected more than others. The hospitality and leisure-based industries and economies that rely on the movement of people vs. information have likely been impacted the most. And in turn, not only have these industries been severely affected, but cities themselves, specifically the more tourist-focused ones that rely disproportionately on hospitality and leisure business. The continuing impacts of COVID-19 have resulted in some of the highest unemployment rates in the nation.
How does the current pandemic affect customer service and management?
One of the biggest and probably most apparent effects that the pandemic has had on customer service and management is the ability to connect with our customers and employees personally, in the traditional sense, which has been completely upended. It has compelled businesses to rethink how technology can be utilized to care for all facets of customer service and employee interactions. People meet virtually for work meetings and team happy hours and, with the reduced travel time to/from the office, have more time to sit down and work with customers at any time of day. Our clients have voiced their appreciation for having a committed team around the clock to reach out to.
What is the biggest challenge consulting companies face during the COVID-19 pandemic, and how can they adapt to overcome it?
Much of the consulting industry has always revolved around traveling to client sites for demonstrations, training sessions, testing events, go-lives, etc. and getting that one-on-one interaction with our clients – all of which now takes place virtually, for the most part. Luckily, with video calls, we can continue interacting directly with our clients and maintaining a strong relationship with them. While change is always difficult, with every challenge, we are presented with new opportunities. Many now realize that physical presence is not always required to achieve similar results, which will impact future consumer behavior and customer expectations towards consultants and providers of products and services. I will personally always prefer in-person interaction with my clients as those relationships always feed into the project’s overall success and energy. Still, we have done incredibly well building and maintaining these relationships with our clients from afar.
How can companies leverage consulting firms in the new normal?
As consultants here at BIAS, we have been on the fortunate end with our ability to continue doing our day-to-day jobs remotely without many hiccups in our transition. Few will neglect the fact that the pandemic is a catalyst for e-commerce activities. Many consumers are now purchasing products online which they would have never considered before (e.g., groceries). Others are increasing the frequency of online purchases in general. Consulting firms need to provide real-time insights showing how their clients can digitize and move their off-line activities to online ones, where consumers are now more comfortable accepting and expecting. We will need to encourage our clients to increase their funding for digital initiatives and justify the expense by quantifying their return on investment. Resilient technology platforms are crucial for future business success, and only a minority of organizations are likely to succeed without them. The Cloud specifically is a great way to expand on these opportunities.
How is BIAS supporting not only customers but our people during the pandemic?
BIAS has worked hard to ensure we have all the necessary tools to succeed with our new day-to-day work life. Speed of execution and creativity have probably never been more critical than today, and all BIAS employees embrace that concept. Presence-free living has hastened the transition to digital alternatives versus physical presences and the need to appear in person. We need to remain vigilant and “inspect what we expect” to ensure all employees are engaged and given the support they need to succeed in their roles. It is now evident that presence-free living will gain importance, beyond home office options, ultimately changing our “way of doing things” permanently.
Share an example of how you’ve seen a positive impact in the partnership, teaming and delivery with our customers during this challenging time.
During this time, I’ve realized how lucky I am to be in my consulting position and, in turn, have wanted to make the most of it. The flexibility of consulting has allowed us to transform and quickly adapt to the challenges that COVID threw our way. With an increased ability and willingness from our customers to utilize these virtual options, new use cases arise or become feasible. I feel I’m even more accessible to my clients, and in return, the BIAS management team has provided support consistently throughout the workday and beyond to help us reach our full potential and continue to be successful. The world has continued to change and find new ways of making advancements and improvements during this time, and I look forward to the challenges and rewards to come from this new norm.