Acquia has been driving the vision, value and importance of digital experience for a while now, but none of us could have anticipated how urgent and essential it would become in the face of something like COVID-19. It's more clear than ever that digital solutions are critical to managing business operations and staying connected to customers whose behaviors have drastically changed. We reached out to our partner network to ask how they are doing, and what they are hearing from - and saying to - their clients. Below, they share in their own words how they are responding to COVID-19 within their own workforce, and what strategies and advice they have to help brands navigate these unfamiliar circumstances.
1. Where are you seeing the biggest impact of COVID-19 on your business?
“Today's global pandemic has impacted virtually every person, brand and industry. But what it has shown for marketers specifically is an urgent need for smaller, nimbler agencies who can pivot and innovate quickly. In other words, agency size is no longer a variable in pitch decisions, it's now about creativity, technical know-how and the ability to churn out innovative ideas in a matter of days. My philosophy of 'speed is the new black' has never been truer.”
-Steven Moy, CEO, Barbarian Group
“This global pandemic has profoundly impacted businesses everywhere as people adjust to new ways of working and companies make major pivots in how they engage with customers. Today, more than 36,700 EPAM employees are working remotely, continuing to deliver value to our customers. EPAM’s transition to working from home has ultimately been a smooth one because we’re Remote by Design, meaning that we’ve spent more than two decades honing collaborative, productive and secure remote working practices and helped our customers do the same.”
-Seth Gregory, Director, Software Engineering, Head of Drupal Competency, EPAM
“From a platform standpoint, we’re running smoothly. The beauty of a SaaS platform like BigCommerce is that the system is designed to scale as needed to accommodate an unexpected surge in orders, and we monitor our platform carefully to help ensure it works as expected so merchants can continue to provide customers the same site experience they would have had at any other time.
In response to COVID-19 we moved to a 100% work-from-home policy for all employees, including support, customer success and engineering. Paramount to this was ensuring that we maintained minimal impact in service levels to our merchants needing help and we’ve seen service levels and performance hold steady since doing so.”
-Meghan Stabler, VP of Product Marketing and Communications, BigCommerce
“We evolve and adapt. We readjust our teams and priorities on a daily basis. Distributing forces in the right places and rebalancing efforts are part of our DNA. Being agile is essential in a time of crisis. We are learning every day. This is why our teams are training, tackling internal issues and continuing to dedicate themselves at 100%, alongside our clients.”
2. What are you hearing from your clients are their most immediate and most stressful challenges related to COVID-19?
“For global companies, prompt and accurate information is critical in crisis situations – much like the one we currently face. Sharing critical COVID-19 related information such as new operational practices for employees and updated services for customers within a short period of time, ensuring the information reached the audience quickly - And on top of that, they needed to translate this emergency information in multiple languages. We worked to create a rapid translation portal that aided them in translation services across hundreds of languages, with a 24-hour turnaround.”
-Brian Byer, VP, General Manager, BlueFountain Media
“This varies by client and the industry that they operate in. For example, our higher education clients have had to focus on digital communications and remote learning initiatives. Many of our clients that were gearing up event marketing efforts for the usually conference-heavy spring season have had to refocus their marketing spend and priorities, often to more digital efforts. And all organizations we work with are adjusting to the reality of fully remote work. This can be difficult to navigate, especially for those companies and teams that are usually working under one roof. With this in mind, FFW is sharing best practices from our experience in remote collaboration.”
-Ricardo Osuna, Sr. Director, Strategic Partnerships, FFW
3. What recommendations/advice do you have for brands around how they can leverage digital experiences to retain – and even strengthen – brand relevance right now?
“We are trying to be sensitive and relevant and would recommend for brands to strive to provide information on their website that is useful for folks to stay healthy, productive and optimistic in these challenging times. We also encourage providing interactive and remote events, webinars and remote training where people can feel part of a larger group. Increasing social media activities and offering provoking topics and conversations is also great for brands to demonstrate leadership and to strengthen their relevancy.
-Mindy League, Director of UX and Design, Promet Source
“Digital has never been more important, so we strongly suggest looking at your current investments and determining what is most critical to surviving this challenging time. Invest in the areas that are proven to work and double down on the things that you know will drive pipeline and help you to survive the next few months. Everyone is turning to digital, so make sure that you are doing what you can to be proactive and ensure that your digital experiences match the expectations of your sales prospects. You can almost guarantee that for the next few months every experience someone has with your brand will be in the digital realm, make sure that interacting with your brand aligns with the message you want to send to customers.”
-Harrison Liss, Director of Business Development, Elevated Third
4. How are you seeing any of your clients utilizing digital experiences to help them stay up and running during this pandemic?
“We helped Louisville Water Company quickly deploy a new COVID-19 website hub, which includes messaging about safety, the latest news and updates, and virtual activities.”
“It’s our belief that brands who quickly adapt and proactively address the market with concrete strategies rather than inaction will see profits and an increase in brand affinity in the weeks and months to come. In times of uncertainty, people turn to brands they know and trust. Now is the time to deploy brand awareness campaigns that keep your brand top of mind for existing customers.
Here are a few of the verticals where we are helping clients with their digital experiences
Retail: We are helping one client update all ad copy and site messaging to prioritize online ordering and carry-out service. We are also using our email channels to communicate important, timely messaging that the brand wants to share with customers.
B2B: Another client is investing in ABM campaigns to reach customers and prospects in regions with strict travel policies.
Finance: While in-branch activity will decline, some clients are putting increased focus on campaigns supporting their digital and mobile banking products and attributes.”
-Jayna Grassel, Director of Marketing Services, Bounteous
“There have been a number of B2B clients for whom we’ve added an eCommerce offering to their existing content site. These transformations will do a great deal to maintain business during the pandemic by allowing them to easily accommodate businesses to purchase their goods. One of our most compelling examples of such a transformation would be our work with cleaning products company Hillyard. The brand has made a key point of their social media presence to discuss and inform against COVID-19. With most essential businesses having to double down on cleaning in face of the pandemic, Hillyard’s digital solution helps ensure they can deliver to that demand.”
“Our clients have been quite responsive to the changing environment. For example, we recently started working with Health Authorities to support a staffing initiative among healthcare facilities.
This project focuses on the development of business processes, digital systems, and real-time collaboration to support the collection, analysis, and reporting of personnel data. All this will significantly improve how the Health Authorities, and other stakeholders, make more accurate resourcing decisions to better protect healthcare professionals on the front lines and lessen the risk of COVID-19 transmission between healthcare facilities. We all had a vision and common goal and because of that, we were able to get this project up and running in just a matter of days.”
- Scott Wassmer, General Manager of the Americas, Appnovation
"I would point out that large scale deployments can be done smoothly and successfully with a fully remote team leveraging Acquia Cloud and services. Mobomo was able to launch 5 unique, multi-language Drupal websites with teams in 2 countries and 3 different U.S. states - all in a remote work environment during a pandemic."
-Ken Fang, President at Mobomo
You can read more about Acquia’s own operational response to COVID-19 in this blog post. If your organization is seeking digital assistance and support during this time, you can contact our team here.