What is the new normal?

What does this even mean? Rami Baron - President, Diamond Dealers Club of Australia Over the last five years, every diamond wholesaler has been talking…

What does this even mean?

Rami Baron – President, Diamond Dealers Club of Australia

Over the last five years, every diamond wholesaler has been talking about the impact of the web and how it has changed business. Every conversation with a diamond jewellery retailer about the future revolves around the effect of the web, social media, and how it has changed things so dramatically that they struggle to keep up. So now since COVID-19, the new term is “the new norm”.

I caught myself saying it in the first few weeks of the lockdown, but then found it to be such a lame statement. I’ve since removed it from my lexicon. When you use this term, are you referring to doing little to no business? Are you referring to the fact that you have never watched so many webinars, participated in so many video conference calls, and have truly added a word into your vocabulary which has become as common as “Google”, and that is “Zoom”?

I’ll Zoom you. See you on Zoom. Do I need an ID to enter Zoom? Who else is on the Zoom? What time is the Zoom call really on? Have you worked out how to share screen? Turn off your bloody microphone ☹. The chat bar is on the right. Can someone call them and tell them we’re on Zoom? How good is this Zoom? Don’t you have a subscription? Our Zoom call is going to end in one minute. What are you wearing below the shirt? NO, wearing your PJs to a Zoom call is not acceptable. PS laying on your bed, or closing your eyes during a group call isn’t acceptable either.

Unbelievable! This incredible tool permeated all of our lives overnight. I have some interesting statistics to share with you.

In May 2013, Zoom had 10 million users. In June 2014, it had 40 million users. At the start of COVID-19, Zoom had an increase of 200 million people using it for meetings everyday.

In April, it jumped to 300 million. They reported that 90,000 schools in 20 countries were using it everyday. Eric Yuan, its founder, immigrated from China to America after nine attempts to get a visa. They raised $25 million in seed capital and today the company is worth just over $40 billion.

I guess you could call that Eric’s new norm. What do I believe we can take out of this experience when it comes to our businesses? Appreciating the incredible effectiveness of having a video call when trying to deliver information to people which we may not have met previously and who may reside in very far away locations. Do I think for even one minute that this substitutes a face to face meeting? The answer is clearly no. I don’t believe we can ever substitute all of the subtle (and not so subtle) cues we get from meeting in person. Cues that enable us to connect with each other on a much deeper level—although I do appreciate the already strict etiquette for being punctual to a Zoom meeting moreso than the face to face.

Still, I don’t see this as a new norm. I see this as an evolution in the way we conduct meetings. I think that we will be far more selective in the business environment in relation to when we choose to physically meet someone rather than having a Zoom call.

Personally, I never really used to work from home. I have however, experienced some really positive take outs from needing to (and no, I don’t mean takeaways, although I definitely ate enough of those). I can really appreciate the time saved not having to travel to and from the office. I like the fact that meetings are shorter, more to the point and that you can mute someone who was ranting and being disrespectful to all the other participants.

As many of you are aware, I travel extensively meeting my colleagues at trade shows, going for great meals, and being introduced spontaneously to new people who in some cases, have become great friends. This isn’t going to happen on a Zoom call. It doesn’t matter who you are or what business you’re in, this experience has forced us to challenge how we do business. It’s highlighted strengths and weaknesses which were evident in this crisis and the things we have had to do or still need to do to make sure that we can be flexible and adapt if and when something like this happens again.

For the multinational diamond dealer, it might mean distributing goods more evenly around the world, so that when one country comes out of a crisis, sooner than the others, goods could be shipped sooner. If you didn’t have your goods visible in digital format, with great images and ideally video, you will be blown out of the water. If you’re a diamond jewellery retailer and you didn’t learn quickly how to use Zoom or other video tools, you were pretty much in limbo when it came to communicating with potential customers.

We are experiencing an evolution in the way business is being done. The door is opening wider for consumers to be happy to purchase significant items of jewellery through a video medium. We are seeing the initial grains of how both Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality may become mediums for which business will be conducted.

Many years ago, I wrote that people will always aspire to physically touch an important item of jewellery before they choose to purchase it. Years later, I wrote again about the need to improve the experience around the purchase of an important item jewellery before they choose to purchase it. Now, I ask you what else do we have to do to stimulate our customers to wanting to buy our luxury product over another. Our customer’s attention span has reduced to a 13 second YouTube video clip.

The strongest muscle in a person’s body would have to be their thumb, from flicking through social media feeds. How will we stand out? What will it take? Guess what? You know the answer. Forming authentic relationships, being seen as the best in your field, helping others around you, and remembering that you cannot be everything to everybody.

Specialisation is something Amazon can’t copy. Watch Michael Jordan’s series on Netflix, The Last Dance, and see the sheer focus of what it takes to be the greatest basketballer in the world. However, note that when he tried to be the best baseball player, his coach spoke about how he needed to rebuild his body because baseball required different muscles to basketball. Apply that logic to your business. Aim to be the best at what you do and you can use the tools that are available around you today to showcase what you’re really good at for all the world to see. Change is inevitable. Growing, well that’s a choice. Quote me.

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