DAILY BRIEFINGS ON BUSINESS UNUSUAL
IN OUR NEW NORMAL

COMMUNITY WEBCAST

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AHA! BIZ

EPISODE 3

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AHA! Hero
An executive who works for an airline company that services passengers who are traveling locally and internationally.

Background
This airline company has presence in more than 20 countries, and one of the companies that offer budget airfare to passengers.

COVID Context
Currently, the airline industry is experiencing a major free fall in their revenue given the travel ban imposed by several countries worldwide. According to CAPA (center for all things about data aviation), a lot of airline companies will get bankrupt if the travel ban persists. In fact, most of them are asking their government for bailouts in order to survive this threat to their business.

In general, the company is still enforcing "business as usual" with most of their people working from home, attending to thousands of customers' needs of refunding or rebooking their flights. The company is also busy trying to keep their business up in the air by maximizing other business opportunities that sprouted from this pandemic.

AHA! #1
The company continues to upskill their employees because they know that once this is over, there will be a higher demand to travel from the public.

The company converted their usual regulatory trainings for flight crew members to e-learning classroom sessions to ensure that the pandemic will not hamper their training sessions. They are also conducting in-house online exercises and counseling sessions to maintain the wellbeing of the employees.

AHA! #2
Since there is an overwhelming number of refund and rebooking cases and the usual customer care representatives cannot handle them anymore, the company came up with a volunteer program open to all employees to maintain customer care. This is their version of bayanihan/we heal as one. Volunteers undergo training before they become social media assistants and answer online queries from customers.

This shows brand love -- from employees to the brand. This shows that in crisis like this, you will see how you treat your people because that is how they're going to give back to you.

AHA! #3
The company maximizes their other businesses by boosting them, focusing on them while also able to address people's needs.

Since 90% of flights are cancelled affecting revenue sales, the airline company shifts their focus to their ancillary businesses. They are now putting in more effort to their inflight meals, restaurant, and delivery business. Before, customers can only buy their inflight meals onboard, but because of the current situation, they opened up both inflight meals and their restaurant for delivery thru their delivery service.

AHA! Hero
A Product Specialist from an international pharmaceutical company

Background
They ship their products to the Philippines since they closed up manufacturing in the country before COVID-19.

COVID Context
You’d think sales should be great right now for pharmaceuticals but everyone is so focused on developing a vaccine, so Med Reps have little to do nowadays. Their customers are now frontliners fighting the good fight; accommodating med reps is the last thing on their minds. So how do med reps stay relevant when their core business is down?

AHA! #1
If you can’t sell, build customer relationships - The med reps of this pharmaceutical company stopped business as usual, created a plan to start reaching out to doctors to assist them in fighting corona. They coordinate with their admin staff to find PPE suppliers. It doesn’t profit them in any way now but when all this is over, these med reps will benefit from how they maintained customer relationships and built on brand love.

AHA! #2
Pivot with a sense of purpose in mind - These med reps could have just thrown in the towel and say that they have no way to be relevant now because they "just sell". But knowing that their purpose is to provide customers (in their case, doctors) with what they need, it became easier for them to find a way to be of service in a time of crisis.

This isn’t just applicable to the medical field. A sushi chain in the states vowed to keep their employees---yes, all 600 of them, and maintain relationships with the customers at the same time by reassigning their servers to deliver food to their customers instead of outsourcing delivery. In order to address the shortage of bread, a hamburger restaurant began baking and selling loaves directly to consumers. Even liquor companies are repurposing their alcohol, turning them into hand sanitizers! Doing these pivots, big or small, remind customers of the "why" behind these companies' existence---making lives better.

AHA! Hero
Practice and Industry Groups Admin for a global law firm

Background
He works for a multinational law firm with offices in over 40 countries worldwide. According to him, in the legal industry, the most pressing matter right now is how to continue 'business as usual' amidst the global pandemic. One of the main concerns is how to represent their clients given that majority of countries are already on lockdown including legal courts. However, he maintains that their number one priority right now is transitioning their people to a remote set-up.

COVID Context
While the firm has always been true to its commitment of employee first, this has become more evident during the global pandemic. They continue to prioritize employees by providing all the assistance needed for their people because they are the machine that keeps the business afloat. For such a big prestigious firm as theirs, it is interesting to note how they implement a “back to basics” or low-fidelity approach to taking care of their teams.

AHA! #1
Engagement Rituals: These are just some of the small things team leaders do in their company to foster a sense of belongingness and community while they are physically distanced from each other, because for them, it’s the small things that make the biggest difference.

a) If before they have an “open door policy,” now they have a sort of “open lines policy.” Now, more than ever, team leaders feel a greater sense of responsibility to their team members that transcends targets and KPIs.

b) Catch-up video calls where they talk about absolutely anything under the sun except for work matters.

c) Having a dedicated platform (for them it is Workplace) just for engagement, where people can share small, fun stuff. The general rule is: work stuff are tolerated but fun stuff are prioritized. It’s like space boxing for non-work stuff.

d) Having virtual lunch together, guessing each other’s meals.

e) Fun virtual team buildings wherein they would do fun challenges like send a video clip of them singing ala-American Idol or The Voice.

AHA! #2
But despite all the fun and games, they take transparency seriously. Transparency is the key currency in leadership during times of crisis. Since people are anxious about losing their jobs eventually, so he has to constantly communicate higher-up decisions and announcements as soon as they come. As Executive coach Nihar Chhaya also advices leaders, you have to aim for honest and consistent communication.

Honest communication means being vulnerable enough to say that you don’t have all the right answers at this time.

Consistent communication on the other hand means proactively addressing concerns that come your way, and frequently sharing what you can.