2020 has radically changed the business landscape in ways we never thought possible. The events of the past year have impacted organizations around the world, including small businesses, bringing them both challenges and the need to remain resilient.
A recent study conducted by 8x8 found that over 1,000 SMB have known since work from home . At the root of these concerns was a crisis around communication.
Communication - the foundation of business success today
At the onset of the pandemic, customers havebeen patient and more indulgent with a client less than satisfactory l experience , as companies adapt to the reality of remote service teams and growing demand However, nearly a year after the onset of the crisis, expectations from generation to generation demand slowly resurfaced.
And yet, one of the main challenges for SMEs employees are confronted around customer service. More than half (54%) of respondents believe that more frequent communication with customers will be essential to the success of their business; only 39% of respondents say their company prioritizes customer service.
With almost three quarters (72%) of respondents agreeing that frequent communication is essentialTo their team's success, it is encouraging to see that employees are committed to improving service levels and understanding what needs to be done. Business owners who have yet to revise their communications strategy and technology to meet this need to take action to make it a reality. One solution may be to introduce a unified cloud communication platform that allows employees to communicate with their colleagues, internally and with their customers, both while in the office or away from home. The single platform would also provide more efficiency and improve communication across the organization.
A good example of this approach is one of our customers, Eversfield Organic, a UK grass-fed organic meat and vegetable box company, which has seen an increase of 700 % of orders during the lockdown last March. TheThe company had to react quickly not only to meet this surge in demand, but also to ensure that processes were in place to continue internal communication between workers, from a largely remote environment.
By deploying an integrated communications platform, Eversfield was able to continue to operate efficiently, being highly responsive to growing customer needs with call queuing and call waiting. rerouting set up on the platform to manage customer call volumes, continue team collaboration from disparate locations and ensure customer service and retention levels are not compromised.
Improving Productivity in the Remote Era
In the UK, productivity has long been a challenge, with research from the University of Gloucestershi re pointing out that UK and EU based SMEs have lower productivity rates than their US counterparts.
It is clear that technology has a role to play here. In March 2020, videoconferencing adoption has exploded - allowing face-to-face interaction to continue online. According to our research, 44% of SME employees surveyed believe that with effective communication tools, productivity would be increased. the most improved business challenge. However, at present, only 47% of SMB employees believe that the communication tools used by their company help them do their jobs more efficiently.
Find the right communication tools that allow team members to connect with their colleagues, promotesH aving team collaboration and providing a more agile work environment will pay off this year and beyond. After the vaccine rolls out, we may be close to business resumption, but the new world of work will present a more hybrid approach that companies will need to consider in their planning; not only by activating remote work but by creating a virtual working environment more conducive to high levels of productivity.
What's next for SMBs?
While the outlook for this year is unclear, I firmly believe that SMEs must be armed and ready to seize the opportunities that arise later this year. Whether it is slowly reopening their business, creating a hybrid business model suited to thedigital consumer or to innovate their current proposition. Whichever approach they take, they will all need a robust cloud communication strategy to ensure that the power of conversation between employees, customers and partners remains at the heart of their business. When choosing the best tool for your business, I encourage owners to consider the following:
Ease of use. For many SMEs, the pace of business has never been faster. Therefore, consider a cloud communication tool that offers simplicity and integrates with all workers in the organization, from the receptionist to your sales agent, to minimize the number of rs salespeople you need to manage.
The ability to grow or scale down is crucial for a small business as some may experience greater demand and others need to cut costs for now. TheCloud technology allows you to change your software requirements as they change, giving you true operational efficiency.
Multiple channels of communication. As consumer habits continue to evolve, be sure to stay ahead of these trends and engage with them on the channels of their choice. Whether it's voice, video, chat, or texting, be sure to consider a wide range of communication channels when selecting a cloud technology provider.
- Chris Angus, Senior Manager, 8x8 .