Interview with Caroline Chudasama, Cecelzy Consultancy

Caroline Chudasama is co-founder and director of Cecelzy Consultancy. She shared with me her views on the positive impact the pandemic will have on business operations and corporate culture.

‘Many businesses are still in limbo’

A lot of the challenges we’re experiencing now have been with us for decades. They’ve just been magnified by Covid – we’ve seen the cracks everywhere.

People were nervous beforehand, but they didn’t have time to think about it.

I think the pandemic has been a call to action. We’ve gained a bit of time – whether it be from a personal or a professional perspective. This has been really positive; it’s enabled us to step back and consider things in a different way.

Last year people spoke about the ‘new normal’. What I’ve noticed is that this phrase has almost gone away. This is now normal – but what does this normal mean for your business?

Right now many businesses are still in limbo – they are unsure how to step forward. They are in a no-man’s-land between the pre- and post- Covid worlds.

It’s not necessarily about making massive changes. Sometimes it’s about those small things you take for granted – that will compound over time and make a significant change.

‘It’s going to continue to evolve’

Companies must have the right mechanisms in place to help them adapt and innovate. Those businesses that had a BCP (Business Continuity Plan) in place were better prepared for the pandemic than those that didn’t.

Many companies continue to have their staff working remotely – providing a service to their customers. They may have put some temporary measures in place around staff working from home.

But they’re not necessarily thinking about how to reimagine their operations – fully taking into account what we now know.

And there needs to be greater understanding that it’s not static – it’s going to continue to evolve.

‘We’ve fast-forwarded ahead eight years’

Before the pandemic some businesses were already starting to move towards a more hybrid, flexible way of working.

But a lot of business leaders took the view that having everybody in different places could not work.

As a result of the pandemic they have realized that by empowering people and giving them freedom and flexibility, productivity levels can increase.

And peoples’ relationships with colleagues have become less formal. The last 18 months of working from home has created more of a level playing field. We have greater empathy and appreciation for other people.

We’ve fast-forwarded ahead eight years.

‘The traditional nine-to-five job has disappeared’

I’ve always been a big advocate of flexible remote working – it helps employees feel empowered and trusted. And a consequence of the pandemic is that for many people the traditional nine-to-five job has disappeared.

At the same time, people are realizing that there’s more to life, they are looking for something more meaningful.

The result is that recruiters are seeing a massive trend, as employees reassess their employers, asking: ‘Is this the right place for me? If my company is no longer offering WFH or hybrid working should I stay?’

There’s a much broader market out there now of organizations making investments in flexible working. Because they know that’s what people have become used to.

‘Some businesses got caught out’

One of the biggest things that businesses have learnt over the last 18 months is not to take their customers for granted. They assumed that customers would remain loyal and keep coming back to them.

Some businesses have got caught out, because customers changed their needs and behaviours as a result of the pandemic. The way in which they want obtain products and services can be very different now.

There’s also an increased level of expectation for customer service. Magnified because of remote working.

As a result of not been able to see people face to face, people have an expectation that they can pick up the phone and talk to somebody.

‘Looking for more transformational leaders’

These changes have been accelerated by the ability to leverage digital technology, impacting on interactions across the customer journey. Companies have realized that they need a different business model.

Many of the traditional silos have been broken down. Customer centricity and experience is all about looking much more holistically across all customer touch points.

Companies need to rethink their customer journey – look at it without the functions, in terms of what customers now need. So they can create a seamless experience incorporating multiple channels.

We’ve seen an acceleration in companies setting up Customer Success Teams. Organizations are seeing that they need a dedicated team of people to nurture and care for customers.

At the same time, companies are looking for more transformational leaders. Who can bring people, process and technology together.

‘Companies will need to reinvent some roles’

I’m surprised that while companies are talking more about CX, they’re often not discussing EX (Employee Experience).

Company culture is so important. You cannot create good CX without good EX.

It’s about offering the right kind of experiences – to make the jobs within an organization enjoyable and attract the right people. Companies will need to reinvent some roles.

And they must have trust in their employees. Those organizations that have a command and control operating model are at risk of losing their best employees – headhunted by businesses that are genuinely prepared to adapt.

And companies that don’t get it right will struggle to attract the best talent.

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