When the going gets tough...

There’s a Billy Ocean song which has lyrics:
“When the going gets tough the tough get going…”
This has always seemed to me somewhat glib and that rather it is the relentless problem solvers who do best when the going gets tough not the tough.
But even Billy Ocean can’t have envisaged the extraordinary times we are living through now.

The big, slow and frightened are vulnerable
When normal systems are shutting down, the embedded rhythms of our lives are being disrupted and there is uncertainty in so many areas as to what the future will look like, I am certain that there will be many opportunities; maybe not immediately but over time.

The flabby are also vulnerable
It’s human nature at times like these to check on what’s necessary and what’s superfluous. It will be same in business. As everyone reassesses what really matters to success, orphan brands that are unloved or failing and divisions which are creating distraction from core businesses will become more obvious.

Customers must come first
Studies in the USA show around a third of customers have to make two or more telephone calls to resolve a complaint (and that sounds pretty good going, based on my experiences). In the current conditions, customers, clients and enquirers need more than ever super-confident, kind and professional service.

A passion to succeed is the magic ingredient
Reid Hoffman, the founder of LinkedIn and currently a partner in Greylock Partners says: “The person passionate about what he or she is doing will outwork and outlast the guy motivated solely by making money.” In 2019 Little Waitrose, with only a 4.9% market share and dwarfed by seven other supermarket groups, leapfrogged to a number 1 spot with the consumer through a consistent focus on the customer.
Sometimes small can be better at keeping its eye on the ball of customer satisfaction.

It’s impossible to over-service
In my own business my byword is to satisfy clients and then try even harder. In a customer focused world, it should be impossible to over-service. Ken Gaebler (founder of Walker Sands, a tech and AI PR and digital marketing agency) watching the speed, hunger and effectiveness which smaller innovators can have in the tech space says: “I hate the assumption that big companies can kick a little company’s ass. It’s just wrong and it’s a defeatist mentality.” The current difficult times have generated some great examples of small companies relentlessly seeking out opportunities: a gin distiller producing a gin based hand sanitiser or the restaurant creating premium priced boxes of wonderful par-cooked food with all the ingredients you need to have a banquet at home.

Stay calm, creative and listen
Taking the time to listen to customers and clients and understanding their concerns and needs, which may not be obvious in these uncertain times, is even more important than it has ever been. So long as we are concentrating all our attention on our customers and imagining how to rewrite our script in response to events affecting them, this could deliver unforeseen opportunities. Kipling was right when he recommended the right course “If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs…”
It’s about being passionately positive, focused and looking out for opportunities in unusual places. Creative thinking will get us through all this.