The world has changed dramatically over the past several weeks, with the spread of the COVID-19 upending life as we know it on a continual basis. Businesses are experiencing disruption on an unprecedented level as they struggle to cope with fluctuating consumer demands, supply chain interruptions, employee health concerns, and an overwhelming lack of certainty about what the future holds.
During times of crisis, there’s often a surge of information to sort through, as media outlets, industry leaders, and consumers alike rush to weigh in on the situation. When the crisis is constantly changing and evolving, time becomes an added complicating factor, as information becomes outdated almost as soon as its published.
Here are four tips for keeping up with current events in your industry space when everything is up in the air:
- Check in with your customers: It may sound obvious, but check in with your customers regularly while major changes are unfolding. Surveys and industry reports are useful, but they take time to conduct and publish, and they’ll never give you the kind of immediate, specific feedback that a quick email can garner. Whenever possible, get direct feedback from your customers, preferably one-on-one, to ensure that you’re providing the products and services they need today, not last week.
- Subscribe to industry-specific sites or newsletters: Many publications are devoting ongoing coverage to the COVID-19 situation and its effects on different industries. If you’re struggling to stay current with changing regulations and industry trends, subscribing to an industry-specific site or two could be a worthwhile investment of your time.
- Use the processes you already have: If you have a competitive intelligence process in place, it can be a huge asset during times of uncertainty. Use it to track how your competitors respond, not just right now, but over the coming weeks and months. Consider devoting special attention to changes in product or service offerings, staff, and day-to-day operations, to get a sense of how your industry is adapting.
- Look for up-and-coming businesses: A crisis can present unique opportunities for small-to-medium sized companies to expand their services and reach new customers while larger companies are still struggling to adjust. Keep an eye out for new names stepping in to fill gaps product or service availability, you may see them again in the future.