Pivot to Prevail: Leveraging Salesforce to Address the Sudden Business Impacts of COVID-19
If there’s one thing we’ve learned from the novel coronavirus pandemic, it’s that business (and life) as we know it can change at the drop of a hat, especially in the healthcare industry. Typically, implementing change within an organization of any size takes months, if not years. Companies need to run projections, define expectations and benchmarks, outline roadmaps, and develop plans for implementing modifications throughout their organizations. But over the last several months, this time to plan, build, and execute was not a luxury afforded to business leaders who needed to make massive and rapid pivots either to keep the lights on or to handle the sudden shifts in product demand, inventory availability, and customer service.
Since the COVID-19 flood gates opened, businesses everywhere have scrambled to address customer needs, stabilize revenues, and reshape their offerings. Yet understandably, many weren’t prepared for this sudden change. Where some industries experienced significant deceleration, others accelerated almost overnight. And this required pivots large and small that left many with no other option than to quickly transform to meet customer needs.
Take, for instance, the healthcare and life sciences industry. Many pharma, medical supply, and diagnostic companies saw a rapid spike in demand and customer service requests. Those that added new SKUs and COVID-related products struggled to get these integrated into workflows quickly enough and found themselves fulfilling order requests via email and phone. Naturally, this left a lot of room for potential error, created bottlenecks, and inhibited throughput and company-wide visibility.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the need for organizations and their technologies to be more agile. Here is where systems like Salesforce serve as a tremendous asset in enabling this agility, collaboration, and continued customer satisfaction.
Pivoting to meet customer need
As the number of COVID cases spread throughout the nation, the demand for hospital services skyrocketed, leaving clinicians in a lurch. To help alleviate the pressure put on these healthcare facilities, several biotechnology and molecular diagnostic companies sprang into action, developing, distributing, and deploying SARS-CoV-2 diagnostic tests. These organizations were suddenly inundated with daily requests for these products.
One of our customers, Cepheid, a U.S.-based molecular diagnostics company, found themselves in this position as they were suddenly met with a near impossible demand for their tests. Their team received an influx of requests from customers desperate for immediate help. Despite already having a system that allowed Cepheid’s teams to efficiently process orders for a billion-dollar business, the need to supercharge their system became essential when they saw a large increase in order requests overnight.
Luckily, Cepheid was already using Salesforce, and we were able to powerfully leverage Sales Cloud to create a custom work management queue within two weeks, rather than months. Our solution allowed them to efficiently manage the surge in order requests without compromising their customer’s need for prompt communication and delivery amidst a global crisis.
Proactive crisis management
Early on in this pandemic, Salesforce also made several fast and mission-critical pivots. One of which was the release of its COVID-19 Care Response Solution, which gave those on the frontlines free access to various Salesforce Clouds, pre-configured to help them manage increased volumes. This gave healthcare organizations a couple of options: quickly stand up a tool out-of-the-box to keep pace with the current demand or use it as a foundation to build a solution that would address a need that was coming down the pike.
The latter was the case for two hospital groups in Mexico that saw what was happening around the globe, which allowed them to take a more proactive approach by addressing a demand shift that stood to overwhelm them within weeks. Looking at the timing and numbers for the expected COVID-19 case peak within their region, we worked with these two groups to quickly build a solution capable of handling the upcoming onslaught of test and doctor appointment requests, as well as the tracking of COVID-19 cases among their 6,000 employees.
After building a solution using Health Cloud and Communities, patients could access a web portal to take an assessment that would direct them to appropriate next steps based on their symptoms. Depending on their results, each patient could then either book a COVID-19 test at the hospital, schedule a remote doctor’s appointment, or opt to self-quarantine. Correspondingly, hospital staff was better able to manage testing and appointment requests, assign internal staff resources, and track case results to ensure they weren’t overwhelmed by the expected increased service demand.
In the case of the other hospital group, the flexibility within Health Cloud and Communities alternatively enabled us to build an internally facing solution, giving them the ability to track COVID-19 cases among employees. And that’s one thing this crisis has done –– it has shown organizations that the digital transformation of processes can be done quickly and efficiently. And still, it starts with one business process or use case at a time and can evolve throughout the organization over time.
Learn from today to prepare for the future
Regardless of industry, we’re all facing uncharted waters as the global COVID-19 pandemic has forever changed the way we do things. But that doesn’t mean we have to be caught off guard again in the future. Instead, we can take action now and build a resilient infrastructure that ensures the best possible customer experience regardless of outside forces down the road. For example, it’s about taking the time now to:
- Capture the customer lifecycle identifying all customer touchpoints that might be affected to ensure continued customer satisfaction.
- Look to Managed IT Services for faster, efficient support and scale allowing you to focus on other important issues at hand. Managed service providers, including those for Salesforce, are optimal for these emergency, business-altering scenarios.
- Understand and leverage the real power and flexibility of your current systems and tools, like Salesforce, to deliver immediate, cost-effective solutions when they’re needed most. Just ensure you have the right implementation partner to lean on.
A new world demands new ways of doing things and having the right technology foundation will set you up to prevail when the need to pivot arises. If your current system takes months to update, isn’t configurable or interoperable, or exposes you to regulatory and compliance risk because it doesn’t stay current, now is an opportune time to make a switch. This pandemic revealed many areas of weakness, but also an opportunity to become stronger than ever before.