If you build it, they will come?

But that was then, and this is now … the new reality of COVID-19

It’s as if a disease-laden black cloud, now dubbed COVID-19, suddenly descended over the world and changed almost everything we took for granted. Personal lives were upended and virtually all businesses for a time were not only upended but completely shut down.

If this were not enough, the ground rules of how we conduct business have changed, likely forever. In the classic movie, “Field of Dreams,” a farmer, played by Kevin Costner, hears whispering voices imploring him to build a baseball field in the middle of his Iowa cornfield. The plotline was, no matter the obscure location, “If you build it, they will come.”

It was a great feel-good movie, but it was a total fantasy. And, it’s also a fantasy in this new COVID age that if you build your business, customers will continue to come simply because of the same goods or services offered in the past.

Customers still want what they got previously, but now new prerequisites must be met before convenience, value and service.

Organizations must reimagine and innovate how to instill uncompromised assurance that customers won’t jeopardize their well-being before they even walk in the door. Providing safety and confidence is now a mandatory preamble in every transaction.

Creative businesses that can package these unconditional necessities will be viable, while those that ignore this new reality will fall behind and fade away.

Companies will be required to not only make these promises, but they’ll also have to prove it in their actions. This will require repackaging the selling proposition using readily identifiable visual guarantees.

Here’s perhaps a far-fetched hypothetical example to set a new tone. Among the most adversely affected are hospitals, tainted by the fear of being a haven for this highly contagious virus. These previously viewed sanctuaries are venues the wary will think twice about visiting. To counter this, maybe soon a patient will enter the front door of a health care facility and immediately be ushered into a bubbled dome-like popemobile. The patient then will be transported down long corridors to an examination room where a doctor greets them wearing a transparent helmet. The doctor then conducts a no-touch exam using mechanical arms. Unlikely? Not so fast. Ever hear of robotic devices, such as the da Vinci Surgical System, now used routinely to facilitate surgery?

Don’t discount anything in this new COVID world. Mere months ago, who would’ve imagined that during a mandatory, pandemic-induced, shelter-in-place order, an estimated 74 percent of American’s office and professional workforce would perform their duties at home. Employees from the waist up are dressed appropriately for teleconferencing, but from the waist down it’s another story — be it pajamas, sweatpants or … use your imagination.

This pandemic has been an unprecedented, calamitous event. However, from severe adversity comes innovation, which can set the stage for new, never-imagined business opportunities.

We don’t always get to make the rules, but to survive and succeed we must learn to play by them. Pre-COVID-19 was then and this is the new now. Creating an aura of confidence that exudes safety and security has become the new field of dreams. For businesses that can deliver on these dreams, success can still come true.

Visit Michael Feuer’s website www.TipsFromTheTop.info to learn more about his columns, watch videos and purchase his books, “The Benevolent Dictator” and “Tips From The Top.”