We’re moving into a new decade (according to *some* — see: Farmers’ Almanac’s take), and as we do, it’s important to remember that we need to move our businesses into the new age, too.
Year-over-year, there are changes in the market, in technology, and even in consumer behavior that need to be taken into account so that you can stay up to date with all the latest trends. This will help keep your business competitive and is often crucial to helping you scale both immediately and long-term.
Are you interested in growing your business in 2020? If so, you’ll want to keep an eye on these 5 small business trends that are going to be increasingly important throughout this year and in the new decade beyond.
1. Invest In More Personalized Customer Service
Customer service is clearly important. Good customer service is one thing that customers actively look for when choosing where they want to make a purchase, and it’s a crucial factor that will impact your client retention rates.
More brands than ever have caught onto this, however, and are actively working to invest in higher quality customer service, so having a baseline of “good” service isn’t enough.
In 2020, work to offer more personalized customer support. This means training your team well and equipping them with the ability to come up with more personalized solutions to each individual customer instead of acting as if they have to read off a script with a single solution that’s supposed to encompass a very broad problem.
Give your team members the resources they need to be proactive when dealing with clients, allowing them to offer the personalized support that every customer deserves.
And keep in mind that AI-based customer service tools won’t necessarily solve this problem; in a lot of cases (depending on the time you invest in building it out) they’re the definition of “one solution to every problem”. Ideally, AI should be used to facilitate customer service, not to replace it entirely.
2. Prioritize Employee Satisfaction
Employee satisfaction is sure to be big in 2020, even more so than it has been in the past. It’s not just about the current job market. Sure, if an employee is unhappy, they may be likely to jump ship. That’s an obvious risk. But there’s more to it than that.
Employees who love their work and who feel appreciated won’t just stick around much longer, but will also be 20% more productive than those who are dissatisfied with their jobs. They’ll be active participants in your business’s growth; they’ll happily contribute ideas, speak up when they see issues, and invest their time and effort into the business as if it was their own.
Strive to create a feedback culture in your workplace, showing that you value employees – whether they’re entry-level or C-suite – and encourage ideas to be shared at all levels. If possible, make sure that you’re offering competitive benefits, including flexibility with work-from-home options and generous time off perks.
3. Take Advantage of the Gig Economy
The gig economy is booming, and that won’t be changing any time soon.
The gig economy is made up of freelance workers who take contracted jobs instead of working as conventional employees. You don’t have to offer benefits or pay the same taxes you would with traditional employees – or even train them, for that matter. They should come fully-trained and experienced, capable of handling the specific tasks they’ve agreed to take on.
This growing faction in the workforce can save businesses an enormous amount of time and money, even when they’re paying experts’ premium rates.
Take advantage of this. Hire contracted workers for specialized tasks like marketing, content writing, graphic design, business management consulting, accounting, and more. This segment of the workforce will make it easier for you to get skilled labor efficiently. These specialists will be able to tackle one-off or ongoing jobs while you grow, so that you don’t have to bring on new team members you may not be able to afford in the long run.
4. Focus On Collecting Customer Reviews & Testimonials
Customer reviews and testimonials are more powerful than ever in 2020. Consumers no longer trust the claims that businesses and brands put out about their own products, but they do trust each other. (And reviews continue to influence SERP’s.)
This makes reviews a valuable currency this year. Consumers actively seek out reviews before making a purchasing decision, so if you want to grow your business, this is something you need to be mindful of.
Make sure you’re sending out follow-up emails to your customers after every purchase and customer service interaction, asking them to leave a review about their experience. Try to collect and display reviews across multiple platforms, with a special focus on your own site, Google My Business, and Facebook.
5. Minimize Your Carbon Footprint to Maximize Sales
Making eco-friendly changes within your business may cost you more upfront, but it’s an important shift to make to stay competitive in 2020.
Customers want to buy more sustainable, ethically-created or ethically-sourced products. They want to know that their carbon footprint is as small as possible, and that means buying from businesses whose carbon footprints are as small as possible.
Ethical, eco-friendly brands are those poised for the best success in this decade. Microsoft, for instance, just announced at Davos (World Economic Forum) that their efforts in this realm will result in the company becoming carbon NEGATIVE by 2030.
Customers are willing to spend more on eco-friendly, ethical brands, giving you a chance to make return on the investment into sustainable practices – and increase profit on top of it. Plus it doesn’t hurt that it is good for the environment, so you can feel good about what you’re doing, too.
A lot has changed in the past ten years, in regard to the needs, expectations, and behaviors of consumers. All of these trends put the customer’s current needs and expectations at the center of your business strategy, whether that means offering more personalized support or finding more meaningful ways to reward excellent performance amongst your own team.
If you want to grow your business in 2020, each of these small business trends can play a big part. All you need to do is pick one and get started.