Reopening to the new norm

After 3.5 months of locked down, the world is slowly opening up. Last week’s “Super Saturday”, UK experienced an eruption of energy on the streets.

(Night) lives seemed to have returned to pre-COVID normal on 4th July. John Apter, the chairman of the Police Federation, confirmed alcohol and social distancing was “not a good combination”. How about without the influences of alcohol? Have our behaviours changed? Will these behaviours stay, and if yes, for how long?

It is safe to say some of the top-down rules and policies like travel bans and social distancing measures will have a shelf-life. However, new habits and behaviours emerged since the lockdown, are likelier to stick around. It takes between 18 to 254 days for a person to form a new habit, and on average, 66 days for a new behaviour to become automatic. So, what will the new “normal” look like?

“Hygiene facts” is no longer a requirements jargon

Extra attention to people and product hygiene and cleanliness has to be the number one behavioural change. From mask-shaming to making wearing masks mandatory on TfL and seeing hand sanitisers everywhere, the awareness and sentiment have clearly shifted.

To ensure the highest level of hygiene, businesses with close human interactions like hotels, coffee shops, stadiums, and couriers need to think hard. Protecting their customers as well as their employees, providing a risk-free environment is definitely a top priority — businesses who want to stay afloat during the reopening needs to be ahead of the game.

No matter the quality of cleanliness will be priced in or charge as an add-on, customers will choose a service or product based on how safely they can consume it, i.e. the ease of mind.

For example, a takeaway shop could advertise its employees have all been tested negative for COVID-19, all staffs wear surgical masks while on duty. Delivery services like Deliveroo might display the drivers’ temperature and rank by health records. Budget airlines might charge you extra to deep clean your seat and provide sterilised cups for your drinks prepared in a NASA grade cleanroom.

Plan of attack

No matter what will be the new normal, as senior management or business owners. You need to act fast because of customers' sentiments towards your brand changes even quicker.

Holding the fort

This is really stating the obvious. Health and safety of your customer and employees is the top priority, and of course, the survival of your business comes second. However, time is critical here. Spending too much time defending will only put your business in a reactive situation. This should take 1–4 weeks.

Mitigation

This is a time to switch your defensive mechanisms to auto-pilot and start thinking about the new norms and growth opportunities they bring. Use the next 3–4 weeks to develop strategies to stay ahead of your competitors.

Long term growth

Bring the ideas to live, test the market adjust accordingly, and reiterate until it works. Develop your go-to-market plan and streamline with other parts of your business. Last but not least, INVEST in the growth areas! Gartner found many F1000 companies invested in new growth opportunities instead of cutting costs during the 2008 crisis.

So, the next question is how?

There are many tools you can use, Jobs-to-be-done and Google Sprints are 2 of my favourites. And of course, using my beloved Kano-Model to prioritise the features.

If you want to learn more about those tools, here are the links. Also, feel free to get in touch with me for some help and guidance.

JTBD — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8VdelElJhRg&t=1s

Google Sprints — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K2vSQPh6MCE

Kano-Model — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iuOrEIBVQX4

LeadProduct Manager @ Samarkan, Ascential, EE, Yahoo! Speaker and Mentor. Posts occasional wired questions came to my mind