Planning for Return: Customer Considerations

In anticipation of “stay at home” orders being lifted, businesses and leaders are building plans to return to the workplace and reopen "non-essential" businesses, seeking a return to onsite construction or service, and seeking a return to “normal”. There are still many questions and uncertainties about how it will really work.


This is Part 2 of Plan the Return, with a focus on Customers.


(Click here to read Part 1 of Plan the Return: People Considerations. And to read an overview about Planning Your Return, check this out.)


Adding some context: I primarily advise B2B industrial companies in and adjacent to the chemical and plastics industry. For many or perhaps most companies, deemed essential businesses, business is ongoing – orders placed and fulfilled, some products seeing incredible demand, others seeing a slowdown; invoices processed and paid (hopefully!), and yet business practices with customers and suppliers have shifted and are evolving. Business has been less in-person, volumes and other requirements have been shifted, and people and companies have responded to new norms. Businesses are looking ahead to a return to the workplace and a return to "normal".


As your business develops its Return Plan, some questions and considerations to take into account:

Are customers ready to resume “normal” business?


  • Have order lead times increased or decreased? What makes sense for you and your customer at this time?

  • Should min / max order quantities be adjusted to accommodate supply availability, logistics constraints, credit changes?

  • Have your customer’s product and volume requirements changed? Does this impact contracts? Where will you offer leeway and where do you hold firm?


How do your customers want to engage with you?

.... and when do we return to a handshake greeting??


  • Does business continue to be conducted virtually or does it return to a normal pattern of customer visits, site visits, etc. ?

  • When and how does your Sales Team make in-person visits? Are you and your customer ready? Is your salesperson ready? What protocols need to be put in place? Does it matter if it’s a local customer (within driving distance) or requires a flight?

  • What about Technical Service? When do you start to provide onsite tech support and service? What protocols are needed to ensure safety, hygiene and social distancing?



How will you know?


How will you know what your customer needs or wants? Just ask. Ensure you’ve got ongoing engagement with your customers. And, if they’ve got a Return Team, make sure your Return Team is engaging with them.


The questions above are a good start to the dialogue about how you and your customer Plan to Return…. Together.


Are you building your Return Plan and would like to get some insights or feedback? Just let us know. We're here to help.

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