COVID-19 (Coronavirus) is hitting our globe and causing mass disruption. Businesses with a solid online presence are set up to weather this a lot better than businesses that have let their web presence lag. Even if 95% or more of your business is in-shop, your website and tools should be set up to handle the same clientele. We don't have control over epidemics but we do have control over preparedness for them.
COVID-19, also known as the Coronavirus, is further highlighting a very important point. It is ultra important that your business has a functional website and set of web tools that can carry on when people aren't walking in your front door.
I'm not trying to make lighthearted comments about a bad situation. The Coronavirus is definitely worth paying attention to but it's also highlighting a very important issue. In my lifetime, nothing has quite hit the human population as the Coronavirus has. While some of this may be media hype, there is definitely more to it than just hype. The local school district here said it is 10x more deadly than influenza. While I can't confirm that, it is definitely worth understanding the broader implications.
I'm writing this as I had an interaction last night that really got me thinking about how important a website and the appropriate web tools can be for your business. Please note, I'm not writing this to take advantage of a horrible situation. This is purely my passionate opinion being highlighted by current circumstances.
Last night, I sent my personal tax paperwork to my CPA to finish getting everything ready for filing. She has multiple tools that I used to make this quick and painless including a great scheduling tool and a secure document upload portal.
For scheduling, she has a couple of different options. You can schedule a half-hour meeting with her, you could schedule a phone call, you can schedule a new client meeting, or you can schedule a paperwork drop-off.
I had scheduled a half-hour, in-person meeting with her a couple of weeks back. Last night, I used her secure document portal to upload all of my files in preparation for that meeting. I then sent her an email letting her know that those files were there and I asked her to let me know if she found anything missing. Of course, that was also the point of the meeting I had scheduled - I was just being thorough.
Not long after I sent her my emailed message, she responded to me and asked if I would be willing to chat on the phone rather than show up to her home office. Ultimately, this made a lot of sense to protect her and her family from unnecessary contact. Fortunately, she had all of the tools connected to her website to ensure she could work efficiently without the need for face-to-face contact.
Even if you do most of your business in person with clients walking in your door, you need to be prepared for epidemics or other scenarios that can really change the way your clients interact with you. The reality is that this is good practice even in the best of times. In the worst of times, however, it could be the difference in keeping your business from having to close its doors.