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Changes To Business Operations Will Remain Post-COVID, Say 81% of U.S. Small and Medium Businesses

How does an SMB begin to digitally transform? And why is it important for your SMB to consider now?

man baking in front of industrial oven small business
[®JAVIER PARDINA/Stocksy United]

Your small or medium business (SMB) likely looks much different today than it did nine months ago. But the question is: how different? 

Whether it’s still operating and making day-to-day sales — or temporarily closed — the pandemic may have forced you to change the way you interact with customers, how you enable employee collaboration, or your workflows and processes. 

In our Fourth Edition Small & Medium Business Trends Report — surveying 2300+ SMBs across the globe — we’ve learned growing SMBs are using technology to digitize during the pandemic and future-proof themselves. This data was further supported in our new SMB [COVID19] Snapshot Survey, surveying 200 SMB owners and leaders in the U.S.

How does an SMB begin to digitally transform? And why is it important for your SMB to consider now? Starting to digitize is as simple as using technology to make existing processes more efficient, like a marketing automation system to create email nurtures when a customer abandons an item in their cart, or artificial intelligence (AI) chatbots to help your team with frontline customer service

During COVID-19, getting more of your business online can help it withstand change, survive, and succeed. And this digitization will likely be vital to your business’s long-term growth, even after a vaccine arrives. In fact, our Snapshot Survey shows that 81% of SMBs say the changes they’ve made to their business now will remain in a post-pandemic world.

Ready to start digitizing your business? Use this guide to help you get started.

So whether your business is starting to digitally transform, or hopes to do so soon, take a look at these data-proven reasons on why the pandemic is the perfect opportunity to do so:

1. Enable safety for all

According to our Snapshot Survey, SMBs are most focused on the safety of their customers and employees right now.

And our SMB Trends Report shares exactly how businesses are doing so: 64% of SMBs globally are focusing on safety and sanitation policies due to the COVID-19 pandemic, 59% are focusing on local health mandates, 48% are enabling contactless services, and 43% are focusing on adapting the layout of their physical office or store to ensure physical distancing.

Moving your business operations online makes it easier to keep up with changes in safety — whether you want to serve your customers from anywhere, enable curbside/mobile pickup, or sell online.

Matouk, a small business and American bedding manufacturer pivoted to selling PPE to customers during the pandemic. Stuart Kiely, vice president of Digital Strategy, shares how technology helped employees safely serve customers as they navigated change:

“It really helped our teams who had been pushed into this new role of interfacing and handling inbound leads from hospitals and institutions,” he said. “[We] used Salesforce lead functionality to organize, prioritize, and triage all of these requests that were coming in, convert them into orders on the shop floor, and ultimately push them out to a fulfillment center to get to hospitals and institutions in a way that was extremely quick and took place from everyone working at home.”

2. Create seamless customer experiences

COVID-19 is not only about keeping up with safety protocols. It’s also about continuing to provide seamless experiences for customers. In our Snapshot Survey, we learned that 50% of SMBs plan to prioritize investments to focus on digital marketing over the next six months.

How does digital marketing come into play? It’s the easiest way to keep customers up-to-date on change and to continue the conversation with your community, whether they’re buying from you or just thinking about buying. Digital marketing can happen simply through enhancing your online presence, launching an email marketing program, or using social media marketing, and it’s imperative in an economy that now relies on solidifying relationships via screens.

When it comes to the overall customer experience — tying in sales, customer service, marketing, and more, many businesses use a customer relationship management system (CRM) to digitize all facets of their business. In fact, according to our SMB Trends Report, 56% of SMBs globally are using CRM technology in their day-to-day operations. That’s a 24% increase from just last year.

3. Prepare for the future

No one saw the pandemic coming, and nobody thought it would last this long. As your SMB adapts to keep up with changing circumstances, it should also prepare for whatever comes next.

According to our Snapshot Survey, 34% of SMBs are already planning for the future, with another 32% saying they plan to be much more proactive about it. For example, SMBs say they’ll offer more touchless interactions with customers (46%) and their team will be more remote than before (40%).

Our Trends Report echoes this data — we found 45% of growing SMBs globally are preparing for future crises by adopting technology that helps digitize customer interactions and offer contactless services. They’re also preparing for the future by using technology to digitize internal communications (40%) and workflows (39%).

Salesforce helps you find more customers, win their business, and keep them happy so you can succeed. Learn more about our small business CRM solutions by following us on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

Suha Saya is a content marketer at Salesforce. With a background in journalism and social media marketing, she uses storytelling and an editorial eye to create compelling content for the SMB persona. In her meantime, Suha enjoys reading and writing poetry, laughing at cat .gifs, and brainstorming quirky business ideas.

More by Suha

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