Timing is everything – as every CEO trying to navigate this pandemic knows! How do you steer a business when your best laid plans for 2020 have flown out the window?
Our CEO, Ray Meiring, had recently relocated Qorus’ management team to Seattle from Cape Town, South Africa, was looking at more permanent office spaces, and was closing a round of VC funding when COVID-19 broke and quarantine measures were put in place.
We’re all still learning how to navigate this unprecedented time, but Ray has learned a few things so far, and he talks about them in a recent article published in CEOWorld Magazine.
In the article, Ray speaks about the things that have made his decision-making processes a little easier, including the diversity of opinions, backgrounds, and views of the Qorus team. To him, the well-roundedness of the company and values such as empathy and trust have been instrumental in maneuvering through the pandemic.
“Leaning on trusted team members and seeking guidance from others’ experiences are incredibly valuable to solving problems and making business decisions that may occur only on rare occasions. Still, the most important thing is to stay true to your values,” he says.
Placing people as the priority, Ray’s three strategies for making effective business decisions are:
Strengthen relationships with customers and your network
Support systems that stem from personal relationships with your customers and network are crucial in uncertain times. At Qorus, developing strong customer relationships has always been important.
At the beginning of the year, our customer success team members redoubled their efforts to engage with our customers. We introduced a new health scorecard which allowed us to monitor how each account was doing. Keeping personal contact with our customers is a high priority, particularly during this difficult time.
It’s easy to take your network – the people with whom you’ve built relationships over the years, not just your LinkedIn connections – for granted. Having moved from Cape Town to Seattle, Ray found that he really missed his South African network and realized he had to put the hours in to building up a strong network in the States – one which eventually led him to WestRiver Group, and, ultimately, to their investment in Qorus.
Remote work perk: Although it might look a little different now, connecting with customers and networking can be easier than usual, since digital communication happens at the click of a button!
Identify challenges your customers are facing and provide solutions for them
When COVID-19 brought a sudden pullback to business operations in March, we turned our attention to our customers. “We made sure we understood their challenges, their plans, and their concerns,” says Ray. “Our customers have been our North Star through all of the ups and downs.”
Our marketing team researched how other companies were coping with the pandemic and published articles on the topic. Ray also found that it was valuable to share Qorus’ own experiences, challenges, and fears with customers.
To gain a detailed understanding of key challenges and projects among strategic customers, Ray reached out and set up brief conversations to reassure them that Qorus was up to speed on their needs and available to help. This not only enhanced the personal connection with customers, but enabled better decision making.
Consider the needs of your employees
You can guarantee that with the uncertainty you’re facing with decisions, operations and processes, your employees are experiencing their own set of challenges. Adjusting to the “new normal” of remote work means new operations, new tools, and a new way of thinking.
Ray shares that: “We recently ran a survey with our team to understand what they were feeling on a few topics. The overall theme was, ‘Remote work is fine; we are more productive and waste less time commuting, but we really miss the in-person collaboration of the office.”
Our strategy involves thinking beyond the pandemic. With an idea of employees’ current challenges, we’re considering a remote-first approach to ensure our employees are safe, secure, and productive in their workspace, but we may also create office facilities for collaboration and the desired in-person engagement. It’ll be a flexible setup with the resources needed for employees to do their best work.
Leading a company under the current circumstances might feel like a heavy weight to bear, but there is always help available it’s important to remember that we are in this together!