In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, a growing number of customers have found a new way to interact with small and medium businesses (SMBs). Increasingly, they are shifting their purchasing from in-store to online.

Salesforce research shows consumers estimate their share of online versus offline interactions with companies has increased from 42% online in 2019 to 60% in 2020. In fact, 68% of consumers say they’re online more often than not.

“The population is digitally savvy, but ecommerce is just starting to take off here,” says Nicolas Faquet, the CEO behind the most visited insurance website in Thailand, “That is why Thailand is the right place for us to catch the wave that we believe is coming over the next 10 years.”

For SMBs based in Thailand, finding the right technology to meet their needs is a key concern. This finding is highlighted in the fourth edition of the Small & Medium Business Trends Report. The report looks at how more than 2,300 global SMBs are evolving in the midst of change. These include SMBs from the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand, among others.


Technology drives 360-degree view of customer interactions

According to the report, customers are still top of mind for businesses. However, it’s now more challenging than ever to meet new and changing customer expectations.

Globally, 55% of SMB leaders say they’re more careful about their customer communications since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Forty-seven percent have expanded the ways customers can reach them. Further, 55% of growing businesses say technology drives their customer interactions.

In Thailand, keeping up with demand is the top challenge SMB leaders face in meeting customer expectations. This is a challenge faced by 80% of Thailand’s SMB leaders. Other challenges include bringing innovative offerings to market and personalising customer engagements.

“We launched on a traditional insurance platform, and we were using Salesforce as a customer relationship management (CRM) tool on top of that,” according to Faquet. “Very quickly, we realised how unreliable and painful that insurance platform was, and how much we were struggling to get things moving.”

Implementing Salesforce technology has enabled to grow its visitors per month to 1 million – 10 times the amount of its closest competitor – on the strength of an enhanced customer experience. With Service Cloud, Faquet and his team have a full 360-degree view of their customers. This enables them to deliver more customised solutions and a high level of customer service.

“From when the customer goes through the quote process, to when the customer buys a policy and then makes a claim, we have a full view of all interactions,” he says. “We are able to get so granular into the data set and can use it to optimise our marketing spend, and focus on the customer journey from origin to conclusion.”


Expanding customer base remains key

Beyond meeting customer expectations, the biggest challenge SMB leaders personally face when growing their businesses is acquiring new customers.

Overall, 72%* of SMBs believe a centralised application to manage business functions like sales, marketing, and support would be helpful. Increasingly, they have started adopting technologies like CRM to improve customer experience. In Thailand, 77% of SMBs have a CRM system, with 37% implementing it within the past year.

“Selling is science,” says Choonraki Singprasert, owner and managing director of Thai telecommunications company Riverplus. “You need detailed information to forecast and make sales. Salesforce gives us that information and helps us grow.”

According to Singprasert, the business lacked an effective solution to manage sales and was losing customer data and leads whenever an employee left. With the implementation of Salesforce, the company has been able to use data to better engage with customers and identify cross-sell opportunities.

“As a result of all of these activities, Riverplus has increased engagement with leads and customers and improved lead conversion by 30%. The company has also increased revenue by four times since using Salesforce, including two times growth in the first two years,” says Singprasert.


The way forward for SMBs

COVID-19 has caused a major shift in the way customers interact with businesses. Many are now comfortable with purchasing online. 

To prepare for the future, SMBs need to adapt and change the way they operate to meet the new customer expectations. This includes digitising customer interactions, offering contactless services, and adopting technology.


To learn more about how SMBs are preparing for the future, download our latest Small & Medium Business Trends Report.

The report is also available in Thai.


*Data from March 2020 survey conducted by The Harris Poll among 2,411 global SMB leaders.