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I hope that you and your family, friends and colleagues are staying safe and healthy during this crazy Covid-19 time.

First, I want to let everyone know I’m happy to jump on the phone to help brainstorm new ideas for keeping your business or organization afloat. No charge / no obligation.

I’ve recorded a video of my thoughts for how to do respectful marketing, as well as some work from home strategies:

Video Transcript

I hope that you and your family, friends and colleagues are staying safe and healthy during this crazy Covid-19 time.

It’s a time of a lot of uncertainty, but there are good things happening, too. My phone this past week has been ringing off the hook with people asking about two main things:

First, what’s the best type of digital marketing that companies should do today, in this Covid-19 era, so that they can connect with customers in a respectful way but still keep their business alive? And second, do you have any suggestions on how companies can best work remotely (tools / technology)?

So, I’m reaching out with a couple of thoughts, as well as letting everyone know that I’m happy to talk to anyone this week or next and see if there’s any helpful online marketing or work from home strategies that might help you and your organization thrive during this time of chaos and fear. Call me – no charge – and I’m happy to explore ideas with you. 303.473.4400 or contact me through the CustomerParadigm.com website.

I’m doing this to give back, and help out other business owners. And hopefully keep things moving forward during this uncertain time.

So here’s my advice:

This is a very unique time in the United States, and throughout the world.

Uncertainty and fear is everywhere. I’ve shut down our office and (almost) everyone is working remotely now – we have 1-2 people who are still coming in. But we’re in the tech business, so that’s a little easier for us to do. (More on best ways to do this, later.)

But people – your customers – they want to do something.

They first and foremost want to do things that will protect themselves and their families.

So they stock up on toilet paper or pasta or hand sanitizer or ammunition. They wash their hands like crazy, and give people some extra space in public.

It’s something to do, because in times of crisis, people focus on the essentials first:
– Food
– Water
– Shelter
– Personal Safety

I get it, because I’ve also stocked up on food and essentials. Not in a crazy way, but as a way to feel like I’m somewhat prepared if we have to stay home for a week or two. It also gives my two daughters – who have now seen school be cancelled and are feeling a bit socially isolated from their friends – a little bit more comfort that some of their basic needs (food) will be met.

If you’re a psychology fan like me, you may remember Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. It’s usually outlined as a pyramid, with physiological needs and safety at the bottom of the pyramid that need to be addressed first, before love, belonging and self esteem can take place.

So why am I ranting about Masolow’s hierachy of needs? Because if you want to keep a business or organization functioning during this time, you need to understand that before employees and customers will be able to feel some sense of normalcy, they need to have their basic needs met.

As a business, it is tempting to put your head in the sand and just hope that this will pass by quickly and that everything will return to normal.

And a lot of people will take this option, because it’s the least risky. However, this is likely going to lead to a lot less business and likely have to let people go who are on your team. And then when things do turn around, you’re going to be scrambling for talent.

First, take stock of what your company or organization can actually provide to your customers. In our case, it’s pretty easy – we can help with website development and digital marketing.

If you’re a restaurant, can you package your product in bulk so people can store it in their refrigerator?
If you’re a photographer, can you still do headshots for people with a telephoto lens (and maintain social distance)?

Second, try to understand what your customers are going to be doing. Most are going to be stuck at home. Many will have kids that they’ll have to take care of, too, that would normally be in school.

If you have a bagel store, for example, let people know that you’ve taken extreme precautions to constantly clean the store, and that you have contactless payments, or people can have their favorite bagels delivered in a sanitized bag. (My local bagel store did exactly this.)

If you run an eCommerce company, let people know that your products are safe. If you have an item that’s going out of stock, let people know that you can schedule items to be shipped in smaller batches over the next few weeks.

If you run a landscaping company, for example, then realize that as people are stuck at home, they might want someone to clean up the yard, power wash the driveway, or even pick up dog poop in the yard.

Someone who owns a 2 year old landscaping company actually did reach out about this to me last week, and what I told him was that if it was me, I’d let his customers know that your team is still here, and would love to take on any new project, small or large.

I’d offer a discount on services, and let them know that you can work in a way that won’t expose their family, but allows them to enjoy a nicely landscaped home, during this time when everyone is stuck in their house and going a little stir crazy.

At a time when everyone is focused on washing their hands and sterilizing door knobs, let them know you can help clean up the outside of their house, too, and by allowing them to hire you, you are able to keep your team working, and providing for their families.

Let them know you can take contactless payments, so they don’t have to pay by check.

For other businesses, I’d recommend contacting all of your past customers. Phone calls, personalized emails, personalized texts out to people. Perhaps create a video – like this one? Perhaps follow up with a personalized, hand written card. If you don’t have great handwriting, ask someone to write these for you. Just don’t lick the envelope!

If you have a solid website, or even a Google My Business page, now’s the time to invest in making sure that it’s up to date.

Invest in a little digital marketing, as there are a lot of people who are idle, sitting at home, and looking online.

Let them know that your team is still here, and would love to take on any new project, small or large.

I’m happy to brainstorm with you at no charge / no obligation. Give me a call at 303.473.4400 or contact me through the CustomerParadigm.com website. If I can help, that’s wonderful. It’s my way of hopefully giving back.

In 2002, I started this company, Customer Paradigm. At the time, I wanted to help businesses and organizations focus on the end user experience, and design marketing campaigns and online experience that help people find what they’re looking for and create loyal, lifelong customers. Eighteen years later, we still have this focus and passion.

Okay… on to remote work strategies.

When I started Customer Paradigm just over 18 years ago here in Boulder, Colorado, it was 100% remote as an organization. The tools back then were pretty primitive. Online conferencing was in its infancy. State of the art was Yahoo Instant Messenger. But we kind of figured it out, and built some tools and practices in the process. Over time, as our projects grew in size and complexity and the team grew as well, we needed an office to meet internally, as well as with clients.

So last week, when we went 100% virtual, it was kind of a return to our roots.

For our industry, we work remotely with most of our clients anyway, so the biggest things are really helping everyone on the team stay connected, focused and productive. Initial results are really positive. We’re actually getting more done and things turned around more quickly, and while it’s not as ideal to not see everyone face to face each day, we’re all staying healthy.

I think the biggest impact has been on Scout, my 11 month old golden retriever, who loves to come into the office and go check in on everyone every morning. She was a bit confused why we had to stay at home instead of being able to see the team.

We’re using the following tools to stay connected:
– Uber Conference. They have a free option, that allows people to dial in via phone or their computer, and share screens. This allows you to literally be on the same page.
– Slack, for instant messaging between people at the company.
– Teamwork, an integrated project management system that allows us to keep track of all of the work we do, including time tracking, uploading files, and issue tracking.
– Phone system. We have Internet-based phones. So I was able to unplug one from the office, bring it to the home office, and it rings as usual. We also have an app that our team can use that is a virtual phone. It can run on wifi or cellular data, and allows people to have a phone extension, and make calls from our main phone # (without having to give out their cell phones).
– Helpdesk, that allows customers to submit trouble tickets if they have an issue.
– Email and calendar, that’s accessible from phones, laptops and browsers.
– Monitors, keyboards, mice, desk chairs or desks. I let people know that they are free to come in and grab a monitor for home, and if they need an extra desk or desk chair, totally fine. (Our industrial espresso machine, however, is off limits.)

Beyond the tech, we have some social ground rules that everyone who’s working has to do:
– We have a morning meeting via teleconference so that we can all be on the same page, and find out if anyone is having trouble with any project.
– Each person has a buddy that they can ask questions – kind of like how they’d just walk up in the office.
– We have video and teleconference lines that people can just leave open and jump onto if they need help with something.

A second order effect is that by moving to more of a virtual setting, some things that are difficult to do because of social interaction – such as keeping people accountable for certain work tasks, returning calls, filling out timesheets, etc – may be a bit easier to manage with a lower context medium of instant messaging and phone calls.

So again, my goal is to help out the broader community. Let me know if you’d like to brainstorm with me. I want to keep our team healthy (by keeping everyone remote), as well as employed. So I’m trying to take this same advice and keep everything moving forward.

So wash your hands, stay safe out there, and please feel free to connect. Call me at 303.473.4400 or contact me through the CustomerParadigm.com website.

That was helpful to me

I actually found what Jeff had to say lifted my spirits. I was feeling freaked out – quite helpless. But from his YouTube video some ideas came to my head. So I am going to run with those – this will keep me focused and productive. Steer me away from the panic.

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