Three Things for Businesses to Be Thankful for in 2020
There are some years that go by quickly and without much fuss, blending into the rest of history seamlessly. Then there are other years that mark a major shift in the world’s timeline. Years that people look back on and think, “Oh yes, that’s when it all changed.”
2020 has been a year that no one will soon forget. We’ve somehow weathered through wildfires, COVID-19, economic instability, racial injustice, and just recently, one of the most divisive elections in history. There have been so many high profile news stories that NASA sending astronauts to space from U.S. soil for the first time in nine years barely made a blip on the radar. Who would have guessed on January 1st that this is how we’d kick off the new decade?
It makes sense that many people—and businesses—want to put this whole mess of a year behind them. But in this week of thanks, it’s important to look back and try to see the good. It might surprise you to find that all of this upheaval has brought about some positive change in society as well as in business—the latter of which we’ll focus on here.
1. There is more focus on customer experience than ever before
When things are going smoothly, it’s easy to stick to the status quo. Over the years, there has been a growing interest among B2B businesses to rethink their customer experience and value delivery models, but up until this year, adoption has been slow. Many revenue leaders fell victim to the ‘I’ll get to it later’ philosophy.
But, when all of a sudden you’re thrown into an economy where every investment is questioned, in-person meetings are non-existent, and sales momentum is stalled, you start paying a little more attention to the customer experience you’re offering.
B2B businesses all over the world are using this crisis as the impetus to drive forward a transformation that connects:
Value selling—where they’re focused on outcomes, not features–and they’re selling a promise that speaks to real business pains;
Value delivery—where they’re operationalizing these promises by nailing the post-sales handoff, and coordinating implementation, onboarding, and support directly in the service of achieving customer outcomes; and,
Value realization—where these outcomes are measured and proven back to the customer as the basis for renewing contacts and unlocking expansion opportunities.
Importantly, companies are doing this not as a bunch of fragmented one-offs, but as a highly connected digital experience that includes the customer at every stage.
The result is the ability for companies to consistently deliver on the value they promise–and, in doing so, to create longer lasting, more profitable customer relationships.
2. More businesses are dedicated to diversity
Racial injustice is nothing new, but this year it has been brought to light in a way that is making everyone pay attention. In the past, many businesses took the stance that it was society’s problem and as long as they paid lip service to racial equality, that was sufficient. Now many companies are recognizing that that’s not enough, and never was for that matter.
Businesses all over have started to make diversity, inclusion, and belonging part of their business strategy, not just their people strategy. They’ve adjusted how they screen and search for candidates, established mentorship programs, made diversity training available for managers, and formed cross-company and cross-team task forces committed to focusing on this issue with an action-oriented approach.
So are we done? Have we made enough of an impact? Absolutely not. But any change is something worth acknowledging. The conversation is happening.
3. A new level of humanity has been introduced to business
There’s something about being on a Zoom call with a customer and having their child interrupt your conversation to ask for a snack that alters relationship dynamics. In business, especially in B2B, it can be easy to forget that the people you’re trying to sell to or buy from are just that: people.
This pandemic has made people connect on a more personal level and show a bit more humility and humanity in day-to-day interactions. It has been a hard year for everyone and knowing that makes people ask questions that they may not have in 2019. How are you doing? How is your family? Have you binge watched that new Netflix show while quarantining? When everything is falling apart, you have to rely on your fellow humans to lift you up and it has been inspiring to see that happen in the world of business.
The pandemic has also been the great equalizer. After all, if your CEO has a dog barking in the background of a company call, maybe you can stop worrying that your video background doesn’t look like the oval office. It has been a great reminder to internal teams that no one is perfect, but everyone is working toward common goals for the business.
All in all, has this year been terrible, hectic, and emotionally draining? Yes, of course it has. But sometimes good things can come from bad circumstances. We’ve all been put to the test, some in much worse ways than others. And yes, some of that pain and distress has been absolutely pointless. But in the situations where there has been a lesson to be learned, I’m hopeful that we’ll come out on the other side as better people, better friends, and better businesses. Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.” Well, we’ve weathered through the storm. Now it’s time to put our skills to the test.