Fresh starts always feel good but kicking off 2021 brings a new level of relief. Now obviously challenges haven’t miraculously dissipated, but there is a sense of hope for what’s on the horizon. Let’s build from that and consider how we can use the trials of 2020 to set intentions for 2021 that will lead us to triumph. I do believe that there’s an opportunity for service businesses to come out on the other side of COVID stronger, more innovative, and more resilient than before. On the business side, here are three intentions for 2020 that I think are imperative to making that happen:
- Capitalize on the acceptance and open-mindedness that 2020 created. We discussed in one of our last podcasts of 2020 with Schneider Electric that we’re at an inflection point with service – the idea that the challenges of 2020 have created a greater acceptance of the strategic importance of service and an increased willingness to put a focus on service culture and service strategy within the business. This openness seems to be shared from the frontline workforce all the way to the C-suite, and it’s something that shouldn’t be wasted. In 2021, we need to capitalize on this openness and this inclination toward service by being ready to showcase all the ways service can be innovated and matured to improve the customer experience and add revenue. Being able to build upon the acceptance 2020 brought has the potential to catapult progress at a pace that seemed impossible a year ago.
- Evolve service offerings and service delivery. What ways did 2020 force you to get creative in serving your customers? Did you introduce or expand remote service? Did you learn how to make far more rapid decisions and become more agile? Did you create new service offerings? Don’t let the creativity and agility that 2020 forced upon your business be for naught. If remote service worked well for you in navigating COVID, work toward developing a remote-first service strategy as your standard. If you built confidence in making faster decisions and moving more quickly to innovate last year, continue that momentum. Did your customers respond well to service spend over capital investments or new service offerings? That shows you they too are open to bringing the future of service into the present.
- Modernize your technology stack. 2020 proved to those who’d invested in digital transformation just how imperative those investments are and illustrated for those lagging just how critical it is to catch up. A very important step in turning 2020’s trials into triumphs is making the effort to determine what is needed to truly modernize your technology stack. Do you have a cohesive platform in place or a piece-meal approach? Are you leveraging the benefits of cloud? Have you mastered the foundational elements of digital transformation so that you can begin to reap the benefits of the next generation of functionality? Each company’s starting point is different but putting focus in 2021 into determining what your technology stack is lacking and how it needs to be modernized is imperative.
Business lessons weren’t the only 2020 taught – service leaders as individuals learned a lot too and, as individuals, you should be setting your intentions for this year as well. Here are three suggestions to get you thinking:
- Create white space for long-term thinking. 2020 was a whirlwind and we all did a wonderful job just by surviving. We learned on the fly how to be more flexible, more creative, and more innovative. In 2021, we should try to take back some control of our time and create some white space for longer-term thinking. We know that service leadership is a delicate balancing act of solving immediate challenges while strategizing on how to build the future. What we don’t want is for the day-to-day to overshadow our time and attention on the future and creating white space that is dedicated to innovation is important.
- Practice vulnerability. We all became more connected as humans in 2020 and I think continuing and building upon that in 2021 will be a triumph. Being authentic and vulnerable as a leader will help you to create personal connections that not only help you in achieving your business outcomes but fulfill you as a human being.
- Prioritize self-care. 2020 was hard and we’re not out of the woods yet. To lead effectively, you must take care of yourself. Burnout is real and to avoid it, you need to be cognizant and respectful of your own needs. This looks different for everyone but take some time to tune in to what it is that makes you feel energize and rested and recharged and make sure you’re doing that.
Here’s to a triumphant 2021! I’m excited to be on the journey with you and look forward to telling many stories this year of how we’ve channeled the challenges of 2020 for good.