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Here's What Learned From the COVID-19 Pandemic

By Matthew Frankel, CFP® - Apr 17, 2021 at 8:33AM

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This tech company learned some valuable lessons that could make it emerge from the pandemic stronger than ever.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has certainly been a terrible situation, many businesses and individuals have learned some very valuable lessons over the past year or so. In this video clip, recorded on March 16, analyst Bill Mann asks (WIX 4.06%) chief operating officer and president Nir Zohar the valuable lessons he and his company have learned. 

Bill Mann: You all have been adding, I think 3 million customers per month, something on that order. Yet you've been operating in the same environment. What are some of the things that you all have learned and done in this last year that has made you capable of managing that kind of demand? I don't care who you were, there was no way you were planning for 2020.

Nir Zohar: Well, I think there are two sides to the answer. It's the running the company answer I think, and the work with the customers. Let's start with the work from customers and move to the running the company, which is I think the harder one. I think with the customers, it was amplifying methods that we already had in place, but being much more diligent and doing them much more often. More than anything else, it was talking to our users all the time, trying to figure out what they need because at the beginning, there were about two weeks in which the world was getting shut down and everyone was in turmoil, nobody understood what they are doing. Our numbers actually went down, they didn't go up. Everyone was really concerned what's going to happen. That was mid-March, and then early April, our numbers just shot through the roof.

On the early conversations I had with shareholders and investors, they asked me, "How come the change happened so fast?" I said, "This is the luxury that the big business has, that the small business does not have." Because they expected small business to go out of business, to be in trouble, but behind the small business, there is a business owner. If a business dies, hopefully, the business owner doesn't, and they survive and they didn't get the pandemic and they need to live off something, they need to make a living, they need to put food on the table literally. It means that they need to innovate extremely fast. They don't have the time and the cash on their balance sheet that a big business can say, "Well, we're going to slow down a bunch of activities for a quarter and two and see what happens, we'll weather the storm." Small business cannot wait and weather the storm, because it's a person making a living to pay the bills, and they have to innovate extremely fast. So our job there was to tell all of the R&D teams and the product leaders, "Go and speak with them, understand what they need, they're trying to do, what they're missing, what do they want to connect, what is not working, what's the feature that now we need to introduce, we haven't thought about and throw it out there."

Then, suddenly, I found myself offering capacity control mechanisms for grocery stores. It was not on our road map. I agree with you. We did not anticipate that one, but there were many small ones like that, which we believe that we were extremely attentive and we were willing to change the road map in order to match the need of those people.

On the other side, which is the management of the company, I think that the key thing we learned how to do, I think we knew how to do it well, but we learned how to do it extremely well, was communication. I think I sent an email to the employees at least once a week or once every two weeks for the past year. In many of those emails, I swear to God, I didn't say anything that they couldn't pick up off the news, but the mere fact that someone that they know, that they trust was willing to speak with them, to give them a sense of belonging or sense of ownership or a sense of responsibility for their lives, and the willingness to help if they need help, even if they didn't end up using it or asking for anything, was so significant. Just by adding all, I got so many replies of people thanking me for an email, which was very simple email, I didn't do much, but our team really needed that. First of all, I think if you look at governments around the world, I don't know much around the world. My government did a really poor job in communicating and you could see that in the trust people had with government.

Mann: Yeah.

Zohar: I think that was one of the key most important things that we learned how to do. Yes, we learned how to move to work from home and how to switch everyone to Zoom. In the beginning where there was a whole story about helping people with getting furniture and missing desks and chairs and equipment from the office and what not. It was an important effort. My operations team did such a good job that no one ever felt as if it was slowing them down. But I think the best thing happened around the communication and how important it is to communicate, as often there's no such thing as overcommunication.

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