As the year draws to a close, businesses across the globe can barely even sigh in relief because of the uncertainty of how the COVID-19 Pandemic will affect the upcoming year financially and business-wise. From multinational corporations to small and medium-sized businesses, most have taken a knock and will need to reevaluate their real business life for 2021. Although many have adapted quickly, others are still struggling and some have even had to close their doors. The impact has been monumental, stalling global economies and resulting in little to no growth for most businesses. While many took the pandemic as a cue to go online to their customers, it simply was not enough for some. Mortar-and-brick establishments and businesses took the largest hit and unfortunately, the damage may be far too great to salvage the business model in the future.
Besides the panic of working through a pandemic and trying to stay afloat, a whole new set of problems now need to be addressed by the business owner. Staying competitive, maintaining brand cohesion and increasing profitability remains vital as ever to the long-term goals of many businesses. This coupled with the looming threat of survival is no easy feat and so now there is much more to think about for the average owner.
Business owners may be unsure of what to focus on and rather than trying to manage the very broad term of “everything”, we share our thoughts on what needs to be prioritized. Business goals need to be modified for the current climate. And unfortunately, there really is no way to predict how business will change and develop in the future, during these unprecedented times. Business owners have to take charge to survive.
Here are some areas that we believe will need more management in 2021. While these are not all the implementable solutions out there, business relief is reliant on a new way of thinking.
Customer Experiences Matter
Each experience is a connection to your brand. Every customer matters in 2021 and that’s why you need to pay particular attention to reviews and how they affect your business. With consumers feeling the tightening of their wallets due to global economies stalling, where they spend their money has become critical. You cannot afford to lose market share to competitors because of a poor brand experience. And said experience then shared with many more prospective customers in the form of a review.
Connect with Social Media
If you have managed to operate (even before the pandemic) successfully without social media marketing, it’s a notable achievement. But in the new year, it won’t work. As more consumers make their way online, social media strategy is more important than ever. The biggest reason to utilize this ever-growing marketing platform your business is to stay relevant. If customers are constantly in contact with your brand, you stay at the top of their mind and that means you have the competitive edge over another brand.
Optimise Your Service Levels
A big reason why online works so well for retaining customers is that your target market feels constantly connected to your business. However, the downside to this is that customers may expect you to be online for support 24/7. Realistically no business can operate like that, so you need to prioritize how and when you respond. Once customers know that they will, in fact, be responded to, the pressure subsides and your business is seen as supportive all day, every day.
Prioritise Your Employees
Not necessarily a new trend in business is the growing importance of employees and their job satisfaction. With the pandemic, more customers are taking notice of how employees are treated and how happy they are because they are now on a seemingly relatable level. Work-life balance has gone out of the window and employees are expected to be “on” all the time, but burnout is also more prominent. Extend benefits to your employees that are not financial. These can include longer lunches, remote working shifts and increased personal leaves. Many of us are juggling work, families and health all at the same time these days – with no break in between. Prioritizing your employees shows your commitment to them and appreciation of their value to you.
Consider Freelance Support
Regardless of your operation size, there may be other stakeholders you are reliant on to run your business. The pandemic has highlighted the need for faster productivity and this is where you need to assess your supply chains. Where you would normally outsource work to agencies, consider utilizing the services of freelancers. They are more likely to work faster because you are a dedicated client and could possibly charge much less for a higher quality output.
One of the biggest takeaways from this year for businesses is that most if not all of their operations can be done remotely. Remote working in the business world yields many advantages, such as lowering your overhead costs (think rent). In a time of business insecurity, a way to spend less and produce more – can be achieved through remote working. Operational costs that have been lowered can result in more marketing spend or additional employee incentives which will lead to optimized productivity and increased profits.
Mobile Makes a Difference
With more and more consumers shopping online, e-commerce has grown – especially during the pandemic. It’s paramount that your business is accessible online and that the customer experience remains the same. Your website needs to be functional and responsive. Your messaging needs to be brand cohesive. And more importantly, your online efforts need to be applicable to all media formats. From smartphones and other devices to laptops, dimensions are critical and play a huge role in lead conversion.
This is a comprehensive list of real business life tactics you can implement today. Easily adjustable to your specific business requirements and with seamless integration, you are far more likely to make your business agile enough for the ever-changing environment, As you prepare for the next year, contingency plans aside, remember businesses need to become more and more adaptable in order to survive. Sustainability is now just as important as profitability and you need to operate around that.