A particular context
There is a date that I will remember all my life, it is that of March 12, 2020. That day, my world completely changed. In the morning, my children are sick, my wife and I decide to take turns to do homeworking in order to take care of the children. And as the day progresses, we realize that this measure that we have decided for the day will finally be imposed for more time. I am used to sleeping well, I am tense all evening, awaiting the announcements that the government will make.
A first communication was expected around 5:30 p.m. Finally it will arrive late in the evening. The leaders of our countries are in discussions with experts, epidemiologists, hospital leaders and many other actors in the health world. The tension is palpable, the decisions are not easy to make. Finally, the bomb drops, in order to contain the epidemic, society must step back to avoid contact between people. This pandemic can only be stopped if the chain of transmission is broken.
The night continues, very agitated and the first ideas and thoughts burst out. Tomorrow, many brands will have to adjust their opening hours. Some will be closed temporarily, others only on weekends, others will remain open. And the situation will be different for each client. On the Mobilosoft side, we are busy. A communication and an article on our blog are published. Our customer success teams are in contact with our customers and are preparing for a massive influx of help requests to adapt information from our customers' points of sale on the web. And the next day, at 9:00 am, a business meeting, we review the processes, responsibilities and try to anticipate any problems that we may encounter during the day. 9:30 am, the first communications from customers arrive and it leaks everywhere, email, phone, chat support, etc. All of our customers need help at the same time.
The night of Thursday March 12-13, 2020, my world changed. If you're still reading, it means the same for you too ...
Who reveals the limits of a model
That morning, Friday, March 13, all of our customers, except two or three, asked us to update the hours for their establishments on the Internet for them. A priori, there is no problem, our teams are equipped with systems that allow quick and precise updates. In addition, we are used to dealing with these crises. We have already had to manage emergencies such as strikes, the presence of gilets jaunes or the storm of the attacks in Paris and Brussels. However, the scale here is much larger. It is not the businesses of a city or a single brand that we will have to deal with, it is all the businesses, in France and in Belgium, for all our customers.
And in fact, it is not the number that is complex to manage. We are ready to absorb this. What surprised us was the poor organization of some of our clients. You would think that the big brands are very well organized, that given their size and the number of points of sale, they have all the tools to be able to organize and cope with this crisis. Well for some, this is not the case. And we can totally understand that. Indeed, apart from Bill Gates and a few known epidemiologists, who could have foreseen such a crisis.
If I take an example to illustrate what I wrote, this example does not date from March 13, 2020, but from the week after, one of our customers sends me an email at 3 p.m. asking me for help to encode adaptations concerning the closing hours of its stores in our systems. This in order to be able to distribute them on to the Internet. I put him in contact with the team planned to support the brand and the communication continue between Nicola and the brand (I will do it in telegraphic style”:
- (3:07 pm) Nicola: “should we close all points of sale”
- (3:34 p.m.) Client - person 1: “yes”
- (3:36 pm) Customer - person 1: “No, wait, only small stores and our own shops.
- (3:38 pm) Nicola: “ok, could you tell us how to recognize them easily? In the database that you sent us, we don't have this info ”.
- (3:40 pm) Client person 1: “Say, client person 2, could you give us the list?”
- (3:42 pm) Client person 2: "then there are small stores and their own ones, but I'm still waiting for information from franchisees and stores in Luxembourg".
- (4:10 pm) Client person 2: “It will therefore only be our own stores in Belgium and Luxembourg”.
- (4.30pm) Nicola: “ok, could you tell us how to recognize them easily? In the database that you sent us, we don't have this info ”.
- (4:40 pm) Client person 2: “I'm not going to be able to give you this information myself, but Client person 3 in cc should be able to do so. Thank you very much !!!".
- At 6:00 p.m. we close our offices -
- (8:00 pm) Client person 1: "Attach a file, tell me if you need more info".
- (8:20 pm) Client person 2: “it is getting a little urgent, can you give us an asap status?
- (8:40 pm) Nicola: “ok based on this file, we close XXX stores. We will do this tomorrow morning, early hour ”.
- (9:31 p.m.) Client person 2: “Thanks Nicola”
- (D + 1 - 9:12 am) Nicola: “ok, your points of sale have been indicated as closed”.
- (D + 1 - 9:22 am) Client person 2: “Thank you Nicola, have a good day !!!”
Do you see the absurdity of this discussion? At a time when everyone has a smartphone in their pocket? There were actually only +/- 20% of the outlets to be closed. It took the brand almost 5 hours and 16 emails between the initial request and the sending of the complete request with all the information necessary to carry out the encodings. The encoding will have taken a few minutes. If we had had the correct information directly, the request would have been processed at 4:00 p.m. on the first day. What is the difference between 1h00 maximum and 18h, which is the total time between the incoming request and the publication of the news?
You think I'm crazy? We have even seen some clients delaying their publications for more than 10 hours and other having a crazy communication towards their franchisees:
- Update your schedules in the system and
- Also send an email to Mobilosoft to let them do it too.
The limits of the current model are therefore obvious and Mobilosoft is partially responsible for it. By providing resources and systems allowing this disorganization, we participate in this. But I am convinced that the main managers are the managers of the brands and their franchisees. When we talk to leaders, they say they don't trust franchisees. These are “real cowboys and do anything, we cannot give them autonomy” and the franchisees say “the headquarters does not give us any support and does not allow us to carry out our digital activities in good circumstances ”.
As we can see, the model is to be re-invented and while the world we know collapsed during the night of March 12 to 13, 2020, we are lucky to do so. Finally, you have this chance!
A collaborative model
What if the story had been different? If at 3:00 p.m. on D-Day, everything had already been processed, without either Customer person 1, Customer person 2, Customer person 3, or Nicola having sent any email. If, at 3 p.m., it had already been more than 6 hours since all the information had been updated? What if the work had simply been done by those closest to the news? Imagine the following scenario:
- 8:00 am, March 13, 2020 - Marc, a franchisee of the brand, reads the social media while having breakfast. He can see that the country is getting into a lockdown. Its point of sale will be impacted.
- 8:30 am, on the road to his point of sale, Marc listens to the teleconference organized by the store director. During this teleconference, he learns that his point of sale can remain open, but that it is ideal that he adjust his hours by opening an hour later at the end of the day. It is also decided that the first opening hour, every day of the week, will be reserved for people over 65, people most at risk during this crisis. The director of operations ends by saying: “communication models have been added to your point of sale management app, so adapt your schedules for the next few days and remember to publish Posts on your local pages so that a specific availability (openings for seniors) are distributed locally.
- 9:00 am, Marc arrives at his point of sale. In the parking lot, he adapts opening hours and publishes a Post on his local pages. The Post indicates the adaptation of the opening hours.
- 9:15 am, the day's team meeting begins, Marc informs his staff of the adaptations and validates with his team the feasibility of a morning opening for the seniors.
- 9:30 am, the meeting is over, Marc publishes a post on his local pages to confirm the creation within his point of sale of a time slot for seniors.
- 11:00 am, the day is going well. Marc has the opportunity to chat (while respecting safety distances) with a few concerned customers. They ask him if it would not be better to put a hydroalcoholic gel at the entrance of the store to disinfect hands. Marc nods, there is a pharmacy attached to his store. He goes to the pharmacy, buys a jar of gel, places it on a display with a small poster. To reassure his customers, he takes a photo of his installation and publishes it on his local pages through his App.
Utopia? Vision for within 5 years? This little scenario represents the reality of what is possible today! What do you need to set this up?
- The willingness of company executives and franchisees to want to collaborate better. Too often I hear that relationships are conflicting. How can you build relationships if you can't get along?
- Good tools for this, Mobilosoft can help you: organise your content using libraries and make them available to your franchisees. Use a decentralized model where the head office is responsible for communication guidelines and standards and where the points of sale can publish content that really corresponds to their local situation.
- Without knowledge, the best tools are worthless. Train your local managers on Local Digital Marketing. Do everything to make them independent, you will all come out bigger!
To this end, I am pleased to announce the launch of the Mobilosoft School. This school offers online certification training. It is entirely created with a specific goal in mind: to give the Local Digital Marketing toolbox to your local franchisees and managers.
What about the resumption of operations?
- 8:00 am, May 2, 2020, Marc gets up. He did not sleep particularly well because of the excitement. After 6 weeks of special measurements, management of entries into his store, special access for seniors, a return to normal is starting. Social networks announce the end of the lockdown.
- 8:30 am, on the road to his point of sale, Marc listens to the teleconference organized by the store director. All points of sale normally reopen from 10:00 am this morning. The head office has created some new communication templates in the app to announce the relaunch, use them!
- 9:00 am, in the parking lot, Marc takes the time to adjust his opening hours.
- 9:15 am, team meeting, everyone is on deck, fresh and happy to be back. The team proposes to offer a small gift for people coming to the shop today. Marc anticipated this and negotiated with a local supplier to offer lily of the valley flowers. The team thinks this is a good idea. Normally the lily of the valley flowers should have been distributed yesterday, but since everyone was still confined, people probably didn't get it.
- At 9:30 am, Marc posts a post on his local pages informing the re-opening and indicating that a surprise awaits customers throughout the day. The headquarters had planned a nice post with a photo of lily of the valley!
- 8:00 p.m., store closes, numbers are good, customers happy. Many reviews were posted on the pages during the day to thank for the welcome. Marc responded by using the ideas offered by the brand on the App. Marc is proud of his team which performed super well. He gathers his staff, offers everyone a drink and takes a picture of the team. He publishes the photo on his local pages to thank his team.
- 8:30 p.m., the store director calls Marc and congratulates him. Marc is considered by the brand as an example on page management, he is asked to come and testify at the next franchisee conference ...