How will the aftermath of COVID-19 impact businesses going forward?
Every December, business experts look back at the year just passed and forward to the year to come in order to discern how businesses will likely change over the course of the next twelve months.
When performing a restrospective on 2020, this feels like a bigger task than ever before.
Few business experts could have predicted the direction society would take over the course of the last 12 months, with the spread of COVID-19 turning normal life on its head in practically every way. Communities were forced to stay indoors, brands were made to shut their doors, and we all had to get used to a brand new way of doing things; one which respected regulations like mask-wearing, social distancing, hand sanitising and remote operations.
With all this still impacting brands today, it can be difficult to see a light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel. However, both life and business must go on, and 2021 is sure to come with its own set of business trends and changes.
Here are three ways we can expect businesses to transform in 2021. Let’s take a look.
Even smarter customers
Year upon year, customers are getting smarter about the customer service experience they receive, and as consequence, they put up with fewer failures. Customers demand the level of service they know is possible, having received it from other businesses that set the bar high for everyone. This could be a big brand, or a local store.
When a customer experiences great service, an expectation is defined. This makes it harder for other brands to satisfy all consumers at all times. In short, customers aren’t just comparing you to your direct competitors. You may be an up-and-coming tech company, but that won’t stop them from comparing your service to that of the local bakery they visited the day before.
This can be seen as a good thing, as more and more brands are investing in giving their customers the very best experience possible.
Convenience as mandatory
Another way in which consumer expectations are rising in through convenience, which is now essentially seen as business as usual. Steps brands are taking which might once have set them apart from competitors are now just the day-to-day services that customers have come to expect.
This transition has been pushed forward by the COVID-19 pandemic. Lockdown forced many convenience strategies to go from “adding value” to “ensuring survival”, allowing them to be seen as the expected way to do business. A clear example of this would be the option to have items delivered.
This is a positive thing for consumers, but also for businesses. Forbes’s 2020 Achieving Customer Amazement Survey found that more than two thirds (67%) of customers are willing to pay more for convenience, and that number increases to 90% when delivery is included.
Virtual and remote operations are the new normal
COVID-19 forced businesses across all industries to change the way they operate, and the most universal way in which this occurred was through remote working. As consequence, many businesses that would have never thought it possible to go remote now see it as the default way to operate. In fact, many businesses are choosing to forego the costs of an office space indefinitely.
Virtual working was something which was already on the rise pre-2020, but the trend became a necessity in light of the pandemic. Next year will show whether businesses choose to return to face-to-face work or stick with the remote work style they’ve finessed over the course of this year.