COVID-19 brought about waves of change in how we live and work, and it’s something that businesses are still adapting to. But one of the biggest changes for businesses is the reliance on tech over the past year, and how it’s helped customers and organizations alike to cope amidst a period of uncertainty and adjustment.
Tech has enabled everything from ordering groceries to paying bills and booking healthcare appointments, tasks we previously carried out in-person. As we begin to experience the ‘new normal’, there are several ways that businesses can meet the growing demand for technology in our everyday lives.
Focus on ecommerce
With the vast majority of brick-and-mortar premises closed, businesses have had to find new ways to meet the needs of their customers. For many, this has meant ramping up digital offerings instead – and it’s worked for companies in a host of sectors, from traditional retail and property to healthcare and banking.
In today’s digitally-focused world, companies need to be able to adapt to an online environment quickly or they’ll be left behind. Customers want to be able to complete tasks remotely at their own convenience, which requires businesses to reimagine their processes and services to meet this demand. This means secure consumer authentication and ID verification tools, as well as focusing on a seamless and frictionless customer experience with mobile.
Throughout the pandemic, an increasing number of businesses opted to go paperless for hygiene reasons, but there are actually numerous benefits to paperless technology that can benefit customers long after lockdown. In particular, with many more people working remotely now, paperless technology enables easier collaboration and smoother processes, whether it’s working with a colleague or accessing a form.
Eliminating the reliance on paper, from invoices and receipts to contracts and much more, through eSignatures and document-sharing software not only positively impacts efficiency and autonomy for customers, but also positions the brand as environmentally conscious, which many customers favour. It’s a convenient solution that provides easier accessibility and greater data security.
Pay attention to customer experiences
Customer experience has always been paramount to a business’ success, but never more so than now. The degree to which businesses use digital tools within their business to interact with customers is what will influence customer loyalty and engagement. Consumers demand quick and reliable access to digital content. Their customer journey could begin and end digitally, particularly now.
So, businesses need to focus on the experiences these individuals have, from omnichannel capabilities that deliver a seamless experience to mobile-first approaches and personalized experiences that target customers individually. Chatbots are one way of achieving the type of instantaneous response that customers are seeking, that can’t always be offered in-person anymore. They provide a quick way of interacting with consumers and helping them get the answers they need from any location.
One of the biggest demands for businesses is staying efficient, regardless of deadlines, changing circumstances and consumer needs. Automation can deliver excellent ROI almost instantly and it allows organizations to streamline manual tasks so they can reallocate resources elsewhere in the business, enabling a better service to customers and more efficient processes for staff.
Automation simplifies the running of a business – the same results are achieved, but faster and with fewer mistakes, which all companies can benefit from. This puts businesses in a position to utilize staff elsewhere in the business to fill critical gaps or to redeploy people to tasks which have a much higher value.
There are several ways businesses can achieve this, from pre-scheduling content to automating email responses, sending invoices automatically when tasks are complete to boosting conversions through automated lead-scoring.
Within weeks of the pandemic outbreak, the use of cash in the UK alone dropped by half, making digital solutions all the more vital for businesses. Mobile commerce, online banking and contactless payments have all reigned supreme throughout the past year and it seems likely that we’ll remain a predominantly cashless society going forward.
It’s not just about health and safety though – cashless options are more convenient and deliver a superior customer experience. For example, SumUp UK offers contactless payment solutions so business owners can spend less time counting cash and more time accepting payments.
Digital sales channels have become essential for brands and it enables a continuation of customer relationships and revenue for businesses that have had to close physical stores. But it also provides brands with richer data that can be used to build engagement, boost conversions and deliver personalized experiences.
For businesses open to adapting, technology can be a huge boon that can enhance processes, improve customer service and reduce unnecessary expenditure. As a result of the pandemic, a large proportion of businesses have reached an inflection point where tech is no longer just a nice to have, but a necessity in order to meet the needs of their customers and employees.
The ultimate lesson that organizations can take away from COVID-19 is that the advantage of technology is to deliver products and services more effectively for customers, placing fewer steps between audiences and businesses. The less friction between customers and businesses, the better.