Let’s discuss the elephant in the room. That is the looming effect of COVID-19 on the big 5 industries.
In November 2019, a deadly virus broke onto the cold streets of Wuhan, China. No one imagined, that this novel virus would stir a global pandemic. China realized the extremity of the situation after it witnessed several people down with flu-like symptoms and breathlessness and decided to quarantine everyone in Wuhan- which saw the beginning of the global “war” that we’re still fighting.
It’s June 2020 now. Schools are still shut; several offices have enabled a strict work from home schedule; restaurants and theatres are to gradually reopen. There’s somewhat less commotion and restricted travel. COVID-19 has enforced a routine change amongst not only individuals but also companies.
Where it has been a blessing in disguise for some companies, to gain the first-mover advantage and do good for the society, concurrently, this deadly virus has severely affected thousands of businesses, by further crashing the stock market and making their services obsolete.
We take a walk through how Coronavirus has affected the industries, either by causing a turmoil or a sense of revelation.
Effect of COVID-19 on healthcare
The doctors are our heroes. They are working 24/7 to contain the virus and restrict its spread. By putting their life on the line by tending to millions of patients, doctors/nurses are our symbols of vigor and vitality.
With the number of patients increasing, several hospitals are facing limitations on masks, testing rooms, isolation wards, etc. It’s not surprising that in places like Wuhan, they are already facing a shortage of medical practitioners.
Third night on call, 13 long hours, lots of #COVID19 admissions, hand sores from washing, but we #juniordoctors still found time to smile. Tough times, but doing our best to protect you, your loved ones, our loved ones and #ourNHS. Time for bed, but back tonight ???? @NHSEngland pic.twitter.com/EHRMM2IGY8
— Dr Bogdan Chiva Giurca (@BogdanBCG) March 19, 2020
By enlisting these practitioners to treat the patients, they are at constant risk of contracting the disease. The effect of COVID-19 on one hospital in the USA has been so severe that the medical staff comprising of 130 workers were quarantined as their safety was compromised.
Day 21 after #COVID recovery. SpO2 97%. No symptoms. #POCUS update: A-line pattern & lung sliding (100% normal). Following #COVIDー19 recommendations: from wearing mask to wash shoes before entering home. No medication or supplements. END of #mycoviddiary. Thanks for following! pic.twitter.com/S5YEbSqG7F
— Yale Tung Chen (@yaletung) April 17, 2020
Above) A doctor talks about his journey on twitter battling the virus. ^
Due to the lack of testing kits and the high possibility of a few being asymptomatic carriers, all the statistics that are publically available, might not represent the accurate number of people down with the virus.
Many hospitals are enforced to redirect all the doctors only towards treating COVID-19, therefore putting a pause on other surgeries and treatments. This is all due to the shortage of medical staff and the dire state of certain specialists.
Also, not everyone is as educated about Coronavirus, as you might think. A lot of people are riddled with myths, biases, and false treatments which in turn wrecks their health drastically. Being aware of its complications and the precautions to take is absolutely necessary.
Thus, to avert this, hospitals and governments are partnering with chatbot providers to spread awareness about the virus, how to stay safe, what must you do if you’re sick, and various other segments. The idea is to spread as much information as possible.
COVID-19 and educational institutions
Most governments around the world have temporarily shut down educational institutions, in a mission to contain COVID-19. These closures have impacted around 91% of the world’s student population. But as we all know, schooling must always go on.
The plan is that students continue their education at home, in the hope of not missing out on much when classes resume and are able to partake in online assessments.
But the thought of homeschooling or learning at home is not an option that is considered by many, yet. People are still unsure if e-learning would compensate for all the hours missed at school/college.
Thus, multiple Edtech companies are ensuring that students get the best experience on their platform.
Minimum Viable (transitioned) Course, if your department lets you:
*send students clear, bulleted email with things to do & resources
*include times when they can call you or otherwise connect
*suggest benchmarks, but don’t require
*collect work via email, save into folders
— Luke Waltzer (@lwaltzer) March 13, 2020
This allows for the deferment of loans, i.e., customers don’t have to pay the installments for the given months.
Of course, this sudden wave of news riddled people with a lot of questions and made them inquisitive. Most corporations were unable to deal with the sudden influx of support queries.
Also, due to the decentralized structure of call centers, extending humans to handle the spike in deferment requests, became absolutely non-viable.
Hence, many firms have felt the need for automation, for now, and the future. Thus, businesses have resorted to using chatbots to scale their support functions.
The effect of COVID-19 on the insurance sector has been upsetting. The sector has lost about 48% of its market value.
The cost of testing and treatment is likely to compress the profits of insurance companies. This would further result in an increased rate of premium, as almost everyone is purchasing a life/health insurance policy in the wake of the virus.
With the cases increasing by 10 folds every day, the number of claims made will also relatively increase.
At the same time, insurance firms need to make sure that the worried customers are taken care of, by helping them select the right policy, file claims, and ensuring that their questions are tended to, on time.
Historically speaking, insurance firms tend to overwhelm their clients with a lot of information. It could either be the long FAQ documentations or the inclusion of several insurance policies bound with many conditions found on their site.
All of this just leaves the customer more confused than relieved. At a time like this, the main goal should be to assist the client, rather than leaving them perplexed.
Thus, to combat that, firms are investing in AI-powered chatbots. Which would help in increasing availability and agility in responding to customer queries. Simultaneously, help in streamlining the entire process of selecting the best policy or even filling a claim.
Suggested Reading: Insurance Chatbots In A COVID-19 World
COVID-19 and real estate
The effect of COVID-19 on the real estate sector has been grave. With the construction projects paused and companies facing a paucity of workers, the sector faces several challenges and it’s finding ways to recover from the hit.
The economic descent and the fear of job loss has made a fraction of people skeptical about purchasing a home right now.
Furthermore, due to the current situation, there has been a huge withdrawal of institutional investments from India, thus reducing the monetary hold amongst the builders.
But on the brighter side, around 48% of respondents consider real estate as a great investment, especially during the outbreak, due to lower risks attached.
And, since the home loan interest rates have been slashed, people are more than happy to finalize the purchase of the house that they had their eye on.
Thus, around 84% of the homebuyers who booked a property before or during the lockdown period are still willing to complete their purchase, irrespective of the current situation.
Hence, slowly clearing the liquidity crunch faced by the builders.
With the social distancing norms and lockdown in action, there lies the difficulty of physically meeting the clients, showing them the property, and answering their queries, on the spot.
Therefore, many builders have taken the online route.
Such as holding virtual tours or online meetings instead of having customers physically visit the property.
Suggested Reading: The Need For A Real Estate Chatbot During COVID-19
Effect of COVID-19 on e-commerce
Due to severe social distancing and lockdown measures, the effect of COVID-19 on E-commerce has not been entirely unfavorable. With people filled with the fear of stepping out of their homes, they have completely resorted to placing orders online.
A survey of 1,200 consumers in late March 2020 by research and consulting firm Retail Systems Research found 90% of shoppers were hesitant to shop in stores because of the spread of the virus.
This is great for the e-commerce companies, but with the swarm of online orders, it becomes difficult for the companies to cater to all the orders at once, due to limited manpower and less supply.
Thus, companies like BigBasket have made less and spaced out slots available to the public. This message was commonly found on platforms of the like – “We’ll be back soon! We are currently experiencing unprecedented demand. In light of this, we are restricting access to our website to existing customers only. Please try again in a few hours.”
On the other end, several retail outlets or D2C companies are opting for simpler channels of communication to reach out to the public. As people are inching away from physically visiting the store.
With channels like WhatsApp, customers can sit at home, place the order, and expect a contactless delivery.
Because of the current recession, people are redirecting most of their spending on essentials.
There was a sharp increase in food, healthcare products, household staples, and pet supplies, over the past few months.
Speaking of essentials, companies like Etsy, Nykaa, Myntra, etc. are selling COVID-19 specific protective gear on their platform along with their regularly sold items.
A lot of companies, like above, are adopting the “pivot” approach, as a means to help out the public.
But, the sole redirection towards essentials resulted in the fall of apparel sales and luxury goods. To curb this, most of the apparel companies started offering heavy discounts in a way to reel in more customers. Or certain luxury stores have been asked to shut shop.
The increased purchase of essentials through an online channel will remain until the economy recovers and a vaccine is discovered. As we can see, brands are starting to adapt and be more flexible to meet the changing needs.
Suggested Reading: E-Commerce Gains From Customer Support Automation
In conclusion, COVID-19 has been a huge gamechanger for many industries. It tested the ability of companies to adapt to the massive change brought on by the virus and it is still ongoing. But of course, there still lies the aftermath of COVID-19. We can only wonder, how much of the buyer and seller sentiments would change, by then.
Suggested Reading: First mover advantage during the pandemic