In business, the best way to stay in the game is to always stay ahead of your competitors. As 2019 draws to a close, it’s time to consider what small business trends are going to influence SME key decision makers in 2020:
1) Increased personalisation of customer service
Clients like to be treated as individuals, which means most businesses are going to have to step up their customer service game to provide existing and prospective clients with a truly bespoke customer experience. One way to do this is to tailor your marketing correspondence to your customer’s requirements, by offering them goods and services that are similar to those they have previously purchased.
The days of showcasing everything-but-the-kitchen-sink to your customers are over. The modern customer will always gravitate towards businesses which reduce informational ‘noise’ and instead provide them with a personalised service.
2) AI influence
Artificial intelligence can help to streamline many daily processes, from administrative tasks like data entry to sales automation via chatbots. While it’s safe to say that machine learning is unlikely to completely replace customer service representatives, it can help to identify “hot” leads and weed out leads that are unlikely to yield a return. While AI was a major stepping-stone for many businesses in 2019, it looks likely to go mainstream next year, so it’s worth asking: how will your business adopt it?
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3) Businesses will be increasingly eager to protect themselves
In the past year, over half of small-medium enterprises in the United Kingdom reported revenue increases. Many of these witnessed seasonal increases which meant having to employ more staff at short notice. According to government statistics, some 23% of small businesses have had to increase staffing levels due to rapid onset expansion. Of course, the legalities of taking on employees means ensuring that adequate protection is in place for all concerned. As businesses increasingly rely on seasonal workers, their insurance needs are likely to fluctuate as revenues increase/decrease at relevant points in the year.
4) Employee happiness as a key performance indicator
Letting your employees know that they matter is important. It’s paramount for staff members to feel like they’re part of a team, doing a worthwhile job and contributing to the success of the company – and with good reason: employee happiness correlates directly with productivity.
Take some of the world’s largest companies, like Google for example. Employees benefit from free snacks, colourful open workspaces and recreational facilities. While it might not be feasible for your SME to implement ping-pong tables just yet, it’s worth considering what employee perks you can offer to maintain high workplace morale.
5) Companies will need to optimise for voice searches
Smart speakers like Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Home device are already hugely successful. They’re also likely to be big sellers in the run-up to the festive season. This means that the volume of voice searches is expected to increase hugely in 2020. It makes sense – after all, talking is the most natural way of communicating, and voice searches are easier to perform compared to typing. Your organisation might therefore want to think about optimising its online presence for voice searches in 2020.