Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, organisations have embraced increasingly digital communication at impressive speed. Many have even found ways to strengthen connections as we emerge from lockdown. Nicolas Bürer learnt about how Heads! International and Daimler have turned adversity into opportunity. 

Perfect time to build a pipeline

Heads! International, a leading international Executive Search company, worked with a major banking client to design a global female talent pipeline on the Managing Director level – during the lockdown phase. While many companies were ordering hiring freezes or postponing new campaigns, Heads! International identified an opportunity: launching this big campaign to coincide with lockdown had a number of positive aspects.

“It may not feel like the right time to be focusing on anything but survival in the COVID-19 climate,” says Claudio Lupi, Partner at Heads! International in Zug, “but now is actually a unique opportunity to increase female leadership globally.”

The disruption people face has forced an openness for new horizons. In agreement with the client, Heads! International decided to trigger this talent pipeline for senior female managers just as many women in the candidate population would be thinking about their future in a post-COVID-19 world. With many people working from home, it’s easier to connect with female talents, reflect with them and communicate in new ways. “As we already have various digital channels built into our business model, we were able to roll out the campaign very quickly,” says Claudio Lupi.

Developing a pipeline of female talent during the crisis means that Heads! International’s client will be well placed in a post-COVID-19 world to deliver fresh perspectives and a more diverse leadership.

Driving digital connections

As government measures forced all but the most essential of businesses to close for an undefined period, the automotive industry was particularly hard hit. From factories to sales floors, the sector had to adapt rapidly to a new normal. At Daimler, the response across the organisation has been as varied as the teams and departments affected.

Alex Rey, Head of Retail Training & Coaching at Mercedes-Benz Schweiz AG, explains how the organisation has been supporting sales staff, mechanics and customer service advisers from 130 Daimler dealerships around Switzerland: “Nobody knew how long lockdown would last so we were keen to explore new ways our dealers could connect with customers at this difficult time. It meant rethinking what has typically been a direct customer-facing business and developing a new digital dialogue.”

As soon as it became apparent that face-to-face training would no longer be possible, the Daimler training team, together with an external training partner, set about designing two video series. The first taught ways to stay in contact with customers by phone, while the second focused on how to present a vehicle by video for interested customers. The aim was to support dealers in their main activity – connecting with customers – rather than making any kind of sales push. In order to benefit dealers and customers in the whole of Switzerland, the tutorial was translated into three languages. It was important that the resources be easy to access, so Daimler chose to share them via youtube. The entire concept was developed, realised and implemented within five days.

Daimler has been embracing digital learning for some time, but the COVID-19 crisis has accelerated use of distance learning tools. Alongside its specific new training series, the company has put together a package of around 250 relevant tutorials, videos and e-trainings so that dealers could spend time away from the showroom effectively.

By focusing efforts on dealers, Daimler wanted to empower those who would otherwise not be able to work during lockdown. Feedback from users has been overwhelmingly positive; people are keen to get back to work properly, but are grateful for the chance to brush up old skills and learn new ones in the meantime.

Taking a longer-term view, connecting with stakeholders and upskilling throughout the crisis will help kick-start business once restrictions are fully lifted.

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Author Nicolas Bürer, Managing Director digitalswitzerland

Managing Director

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