Many businesses underwent huge changes in 2020. The situation came on fast and furious, leaving no time to adapt gradually. The changing landscape left businesses to turn to heavy reliance on digital tools.
This is the year that Zoom really took off. And what about email? Many had thought it was an old, useless tool that was best to leave behind. However, email suddenly became relevant again. In addition, businesses had to let employees work remotely. This came at a time when not many businesses were ready to switch over to digital. Technology became a lifeline, including for SMBs.
SMBs, which are usually slow to make changes, were forced to adapt to survive. Those that didn’t change over to a digital way of being and doing have not thrived, and many have not survived. On the other hand, businesses that made the fast move to digital have done quite well in transforming.
The Digital Transformation Will Continue
Now we’re in 2021, and going digital is still essential for SMBs. They are seeking ways to remain relevant and connected to their loyal customers while also growing revenue. The goal is to deliver excellent customer experiences.
Companies have seen the importance of making their digital offerings user-friendly. When customers come and have a bad experience, chances are they will leave for a competitor. That’s the way it works online. So, keeping customers happy and making their experience smooth, pleasant, and easy are goals to maintain customer loyalty. SMBs are no longer dependent on location, transportation, and time.
SMBs now have the ability to reach a worldwide audience with their products and services, like never before. It turns out that SMBs surprisingly have the edge over larger companies in this digital transition.
What’s the advantage that small businesses have? It’s their attention to detail and providing customers with a personal touch. They know their customers and what they need. This leads to customer loyalty and credibility for the business.
It’s time for SMBs to create a digital presence. A digital presence doesn’t have to replace the company’s physical presence. A digital presence should be treated as complementary to the business.
Businesses that have survived the last year have stayed in touch with their customers. This may have meant providing products and services online, staying in touch via social media platforms, and more. Even just letting customers know the company was still operating and still offering services was enough to keep some SMBs alive throughout the last year.
SMBs have learned that staying in touch with customers is key to staying alive. They’ve also understood it’s still necessary to make use of digital to keep going through this year, too. Making a move to digital continues to transform SMBs.
Customer Communication Becomes Digital
As they embrace the digital present and future, SMBs are also finding it necessary to move most customer communication to the digital realm. This means using email, video conferencing, and more to stay in touch with customers. This trend will continue into 2021 and beyond.
SMBs must find ways to adapt their technology to expand their customer communications. For this to happen, these companies must also ensure they have the Internet speeds available to use digital communications.
The importance of digital customer communications means the difference of surviving in these changing times or not. Not only that, the way SMBs choose to connect with their customers has a huge effect on branding, reputation, and public relations. This doesn’t mean small businesses must abandon their offline communications. It means they must find a way to use both effectively to reach and maintain their customer base.
The best way for SMBs to stay relevant, in touch with customers, and building their brand is to use a multi-channel approach to customer communications. This means using a variety of tools for digital communication. Some of the top channels for communicating with customers include:
- Social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and more)
- Website & blog
- Press release
The benefit of using a variety of digital communication tools is that SMBs have the ability to communicate quickly with their customers. They can build their reputation through using multi-channel communications. It’s also a great way to draw in new customers.
While it can be overwhelming with so many communication channels to use, it’s best for a small business to identify those channels most often used by their customers. Then stay with these channels to avoid becoming overwhelmed by managing too many channels at one time.
Technology & the Importance of Becoming Agile
Never has there been a need to become agile so quickly as we’ve experienced within the last year. Businesses found it necessary for employees to be home, working remotely. This was truly the first major wave of digitalization for many SMBs.
The abrupt move to digital has forced many SMBs to change the technology they use. Surveys have shown that many small businesses are choosing to invest in new technology to support digital communications while enabling their employees to work remotely.
Small businesses are reviewing cloud technologies that make it easier for employees to work wherever they’re located. The goal is to provide the same tools they would use in the office. This is leading to investments in cloud services such as Microsoft 365, Google Workspace, and more.
These digital tools allow employees to access files, apps, and resources they need for their jobs. All of this can be done without an expensive investment into hardware. It’s all in the cloud.
The adoption of automation services in the cloud is also being used to enable remote working. And SMBs are increasingly employing digital communication tools to stay connected with their customers.
All of these changes are making SMBs more agile and able to deal with major changes, such as we’ve seen in the last year. Agility will continue to be a factor for small businesses as we move forward.
Summing It Up
The past year has been challenging for everyone on many levels, including businesses. Small businesses have had to be creative and embrace digital methods for business operations and staying in touch with customers. They’ve seen the importance of going digital, and now there’s no stopping them. SMBs will continue to embrace digital technologies to stay relevant and connected with their customers.
We’re here to help if your business is ready for a digital transformation. Contact us for more information on how to bring your company into the 21st century.
23rd February 2024
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