How top Slovenian companies are doing business during the Covid-19 epidemic: They got closer to customers, became more flexible and more digitalised.Adriatic Journal 8 May 2020
Business during the epidemic: Companies have adapted swiftly, upgrading their services, which will only strengthen their business with partners in the future.
Author: Jan TOmše
At the time of the covid-19 coronavirus epidemic, market and business conditions changed overnight for almost all companies. Physical business declined significantly and companies have become more active online, taking advantage of modern technologies that have not been used before. But that was not all. Companies, both doing B2B and B2C business, had to implement new approaches. These were very different, but all with the same goal: to provide business partners with the smoothest possible business operations and friendly shopping experience, while providing adequate working conditions for their employees to enable uninterupted performance of tasks.
We asked successful Slovenian companies the following questions:
Below are their answers:
TELEMACH - Users are benefiting from the transition
Telemach, a provider of television, internet and mobile telephony in Slovenia, laid the foundations for successfully coping with the changed way of working even before the epidemic was declared, so the transition to a new working environment was quick and efficient. They set up processes in advance, providing equipment and testing for the transition of working from home. Each employee also received an SOS package of vitamins, disinfectants, masks and other things to protect their health at home.
the company has become even more digital – it has developed a special chat on its website, through which users can talk to the real person.
Users experienced the transition the most, as Telemach provided them with uninterrupted use and the necessary assistance, even with the greatly increased use of services. In the age of the coronavirus, the company has become even more digital – it has developed a special chat on its website, through which users can talk to the real person. In addition, they refined and optimized online sales. All of these have proven to be a good substitute for classic approaches. In the future, Telemach said, satisfaction of its employees and technologically sophisticated infrastructure will remain the company’s foundation. As in the time before the epidemic, Telemach maintains a competitive advantage in “normal” conditions.
ELES - Videoconferencing and paperless business techniques
The company anticipates to benefit from the experience of the current crisis in the future.
Eles, the operator of Slovenia’s electric power transmission system, has a security policy that includes the establishment of the business continuity management system (at the time of crisis). The policy ensured that, during the epidemic, decisive measures were taken to protect people, interests of its stakeholders as well as the company’s assets and its reputation. Eles first adopted recommendations and measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus at the end of February, with additional measures being introduced during March 2020, when the CEO, Aleksander Mervar, adopted a contingency plan for employees.
The company also set up coordination headquarters, which, at the time of the announcement of the epidemic, became crisis headquarters, constantly monitoring and responding to the ongoing situation. At Eles, they highlight the widespread use of electronic communication and paperless business techniques. Video conferencing has been heavily used since March and will continue to be used in the future. Indeed, the company anticipates to benefit from the experience of the current crisis in the future. It estimates its revenues in 2020 will decrease by around EUR 20m, which is just over 10% of the projected revenue for 2020. In response, the company adjusted their operations for the period May-December 2020 with rationalizations, rebalancing of investment dynamics and postponing some of the non-essential investments until after 2021.
Luka Koper - Smooth operations within the established framework
Luka Koper, a company which is part of Slovenia’s strategic infrastructure, ensured smooth operations during the epidemic despite the introduction of necessary safeguards to protect employees and all other stakeholders coming to the port area. Employees in support services and people at risk were allowed to work from home, and work schedules were adjusted for operational staff so that there was no intersection between shifts. The work went smoothly within the established framework, Sebastjan Šik of Luka Koper confirms.
"Currently, the automotive industry has been suffering the hardest blow, which will have an impact on the entire supply chain."
– Sebastjan Šik, Head of PR Department
It is premature to say what will be the proportions of the impact of the epidemic on business, as the impact on the logistics sector is usually delayed, Šik says. »Car throughput is slightly lower, as overall production and sales have stalled, which also affects the supply of components for the automotive industry and steel production. The supply of raw materials for the steel industry is also linked to this. On the other hand, we are seeing increased throughput of bulk cargo, especially soybeans and wood.«
NLB Group - An opportunity to show responsiveness and innovation
NLB Group, the strongest banking group in the Western Balkans region, responded to the crisis quickly and effectively. Despite the company’s business continuity plan, however, the sudden crisis situation posed a considerable challenge. »In just a few days, we have made it possible for employees who can do their work from home, to do so. We have significantly expanded the capacities of our contact center, adjusted the opening hours of our outlets and have taken preventative measures throughout, ensuring smooth functioning of our systems and services. We realized we were much more agile and flexible than we thought. And also that online meetings are more productive and that we have a lot of untapped knowledge in our house,« explains Andrej Krajner, Communications Director at NLB.
"we have made it possible for employees who can do their work from home, to do so"
– Andrej Krajner, Communications Director at NLB
Krajner adds that if we put aside the consequences the current epidemic will have on the economy, this crisis actually presents a great opportunity to show the responsiveness, innovation, professionalism and efficiency of the teams. It can bring drive and motivation and encourage changes that companies feared or could not tackle in the past. »The corona crisis has taught us that people will rely even more on the internet in the future, but we will always – perhaps even more than before – need and expect warmth and personal contact and a really good understanding of our needs and desires. How to recognize, connect and preserve all this will be the key issues that we will focus on in the NLB Group in the future.«
PETROL - Devoting a great deal of time to communicating with employees
At Petrol, the largest Slovenian energy company by revenue and one of the largest companies in the Western Balkans region, the spread of coronavirus has been monitored closesly from the beginning and the company had successfully managed to implement appropriate measures in regards to work organization and business continuity. Petrol emphasises that their coronavirus coordination team focuses on health, both of their employees and customers.
The priority is to ensure the smooth running of operations in all locations, and to provide important strategic energy supply throughout the country.
The team takes care of all the necessary safeguards for employees, prepares plans, policies, protocols, instructions and notices. The priority is to ensure the smooth running of operations in all locations, and to provide important strategic energy supply throughout the country. The company had to adapt to the situation very quickly with the new way of working. The greatest emphasis was on adapting the operations at the points of sale. Petrol also successfully introduced working from home or teleworking, which has been tested since the beginning of March.
TRIGLAV - Increased customer satisfaction
Triglav, the largest insurance company operating in Slovenia, has given priority to protecting the health of employees, customers, partners and other stakeholders and has taken measures to reduce the spread of infections in accordance with the recommendations of the health profession and competent institutions. Even in this situation, the insurer operates continuously, striving to maximize customer support. Individual business premises of the insurance company remain open, but clients can also continue activities related to the management of all types of insurance, claims reporting, use of assistance, communication with the insurance company remotely via modern electronic and telecommunication channels.
"As the future development of the epidemic and its impact on the economy and financial markets remains uncertain and financial markets highly volatile, it is difficult to reliably assess the effects on the Triglav Group's operations in the current situation"
– Luka Pušnik , Director of Corporate Communications
The data shows that aforementioned way of doing business has been well received by customers, and their satisfaction with the services is even higher than in the previous year. Triglav also uses the omnichannel sales approach and digital solutions for remote and paperless operations, which have gained additional impetus in the current situation. In addition to property and health insurance, life insurance can also be concluded. It estimates that with the new way of concluding insurance at a distance, the company has taken a step forward in customer care. With the development of contact points Triglav also aligned with the corporate strategy, as digitalization of business processes is one of its main strategic goals. The group is constantly adjusting to the current situation and will continue to do so in the future, he added.
Zavarovalnica Sava - Customers can choose preferred channel of communication
During the time of the epidemic, insurer Zavarovalnica Sava upgraded its business operations and adapted to the situation. Thus, at a time when distance business is becoming a new reality, insurer wants to provide customers with maximum support, both in concluding insurance and in resolving claims. Due to the prohibition of direct contact with clients during the months of March and April, a remote signature and video identification were developed to ensure smooth conclusion of insurances. The company has also developed remote damage viewing, which allows for claims to be resolved completely without personal contact. Most of the services were moved to the cloud, making it easier for customers to do business, explains David Kastelic, President of the Management Board of Zavarovalnica Sava.
»Even in times when measures are slowly being loosened and we are reopening our shops, we remain in contact with our customers remotely, in addition to physical. This means that the customers can choose the channel they prefer.«
– David Kastelic , President of the Management Board