We’re officially just a handful of weeks away from leaving 2020 behind. In the past several months, an unbelievable number of things have changed including the trends for entrepreneurs to watch for.
With a global pandemic, entrepreneurs and businesses all over the world have been forced to get creative with contactless ways of doing business and working remotely for the first time. Advancements in technology have changed the game, shifting how businesses operate. And even what consumers expect and how they behave has evolved.
More changes are coming, and in order to be ready to take on the competition, it’s important for entrepreneurs to know the latest trends that will help them in 2021.
1. Customer Experience is #1
This has been a business fact for the last few years, and it’s not going anywhere. Customer experience as a major deciding factor in who customers choose to purchase from is a trend that will continue into 2021, demanding that any businesses who want to stay competitive focus heavily on this area.
Just take a look at the following statistics:
- 80% of customers say the experience a company provides is as important as its products and services
- Only 3% of U.S. consumers want their experiences to be as automated as possible
- 65% of consumers find a positive experience with a brand to be more influential than great advertising
- 72% of consumers expect that customer service agents should be able to know who they are and their past history with the company, including past purchases and engagement.
You can’t afford not to invest in great customer experience, so make sure you do the following:
- Have a strong CRM system. This will help your team quickly access an individual customer’s information during a call to offer the best custom-for-them solutions possible and to follow up later. Hubspot and Salesforce are both great places to start looking.
- Be prepared for an influx in customer demand with an answering service. You can’t answer every call, and perhaps even more importantly, you really don’t want to. Hire an answering service to handle any call overflow (or all your initial calls, period, if you want) and ensure that your customers are given the best experience whenever they call… even if it’s at 3AM.
- Invest heavily in your customer service training. Make sure that all of your client-facing team members have training in this area, even if they aren’t specifically customer service reps, and hire those who qualify themselves as “a people person,” with strong empathy and attention to detail.
2. Geography Has Become Irrelevant
With businesses working remotely and offering online access to products and services from all over the world, consumers have more choices than ever. This means that unless you’re running a business that is bound by location (think mechanics, plumbers, lawyers, most restaurants), then you’ve got a lot more competition.
While this feels like a bit of a downer, there’s an upside, too. If consumers aren’t bound by location, it means you aren’t either. You can intentionally create ad campaigns to reach users all over the world, and even more importantly, your workers can come from all over the world, too.
Remote work was already gaining popularity but is now an entrepreneur trend that is here to stay. It allows employees to socially distance, more work-life balance, and the option to take the perfect job for them no matter where it is and without having to move. This means that you can find the absolute top talent out there and have them work for you, even if they’re in Toronto and you’re in Austin.
If you’re really struggling with the idea of remote work, remember that there are so many additional benefits, too. It can save you money since you aren’t paying for big office space and chairs, desks, and computers for every staff member, and it’s also greener; you’re cutting down on waste from having people in-office and even just the car emissions from the transport to and from.
Here are a few ways that entrepreneurs can adapt to this trend as it continues into 2021:
- Use communication tools to help your team work remotely. Virtual phone systems like Tresta’s are a great way to go, allowing your team members to just install an app on their phones to get a second phone number they can use for business purposes. Don’t worry about setting up office phones or sending physical devices across the country.
- Look at project management software. Again, teamwork can be a little more difficult when you’re spread out across multiple time zones. Tools like Trello and Asana can help keep everyone on the same page.
3. Personalization is King
Consumers are demanding more personalized experiences with businesses. This may be one of the most dramatic shifts in communication, customer service, and marketing in the past few years, requiring entrepreneurs to adapt quickly and adopt technology that helps make personalization feasible.
Personalization is a trend in marketing that increases relevance and drives better engagement. Customers want to feel valued, and they want strong, organic relationships with the businesses they choose to buy from. It applies to customer support too, and is important to empower support representatives to compile tailor-made solutions for customers (as opposed to canned, impersonal responses) that will boost customer loyalty and keep them coming back for more.
4. Machine Learning is Advancing
Machine learning and artificial intelligence are trends entrepreneurs have been adapting to for a few years, but technological advances are making them more powerful than ever.
Machine learning, for those who are unfamiliar, is a type of artificial intelligence that allows software to evolve as it “learns” from its experience.
If you’ve got a chatbot on your site that implements machine learning, for example, it may have a built-in functionality to offer product suggestions based on user questions. By evaluating which products users respond to most, software that uses machine-learning will actually be able to fine-tune the process automatically and offer better suggestions moving forward. This isn’t unlike a salesperson fine-tuning their pitch over time, and it can be incredibly effective.
If you aren’t leveraging machine learning for your business yet, here are a few great ways to get started:
- Leverage machine learning that’s already accessible to you. Facebook Ads, for example, has recently released an option that allows advertisers to create multiple text options for their dynamic ads, and they’ll show each user ads containing information that is most likely to influence them to purchase. You don’t have to pay extra for this functionality, which can help you automate and optimize your campaigns instantly.
- Check out machine-learning software to help you with any weaknesses. All businesses struggle in certain areas. For some, it may be finding effective sales tactics and for others it may be predicting the financial status of your business over the next few months. There’s machine learning software that can help with most tasks that involve analytics, so take a look at this list and see if there’s anything that could benefit you.
5. Mobile Apps Are Redefining Service-Based Industries
There truly is a mobile app for everything, and they’re proving themselves seriously useful during this heightened time of remote working. Mobile apps are one key way that businesses are offering more personalized and high-level service for their customers, and it’s keeping the brand relevant and improving retention rates. Imagine getting a push notification from your favorite retail store every time there’s a sale.
Mobile apps are important across the board, but they’re particularly crucial for service-based businesses. People want convenience, and the ability to quickly book an appointment with your carpet cleaner or even to pay their statement on an app without having to get on a desktop is a huge plus.
This being said, mobile apps may not be for everyone. They should be something that you should consider, and this article can help you decide what’s best for you moving forward.
As an entrepreneur, 2020 surely threw you for a loop. On the bright side, this year also forced many of us to embrace the trends that were already coming, such as the adoption of mobile apps, remote working, and other integrated technology solutions.
Ensure that your business and its practices are up to speed on these trends, and check out any new tools or resources that may be available to entrepreneurs now that weren’t before. The new year is coming and you’ll be ready.