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Technology Can Help Indian SMBs Pivot Through the Pandemic: Salesforce Report

Small & Medium Business Trends report, which is released by Salesforce, has shared insights of SMB owners and leaders at the beginning and in the midst of the pandemic
BY Jaspreet Kaur
Feature Writer, BusinessEx
Oct 13,2020

SMB entrepreneurs have cited that meeting customer expectations is the top constraint on operations in India. Small & Medium Business Trends report, which is released by Salesforce, has shared insights of Small and Medium Business (SMB) owners and leaders at the beginning and in the midst of the pandemic.

The report made important revelations about SMBs, which are as follows:

SMBs Prioritize Customer Safety and Shift Interactions 

Customers are at top of mind for SMBs and best poised for the future are more likely to prioritize adjustments to their services and interactions to deliver safe customer experiences. Growing SMBs, defined as having 1 per cent or more revenue increase over the last six months, are most likely to have taken actions to change customer interactions since the pandemic took hold and also seem better poised to offer customers flexibility, such as, easier return policies and payment plans.

SMB Optimism Persists Amid New Challenges 

In addition to pre-pandemic challenges, SMB leaders are now faced with operational restrictions, compliance mandates, and shifting customer expectations. However, SMB leaders remain optimistic about the future of their businesses. As of August 2020, 22 per cent of SMB respondents say they are very optimistic and 50 per cent of SMB respondents say they are somewhat optimistic about the future of their business.

Digital-Forward SMBs are Better Equipped to Handle Market Volatility

SMBs’ use of technology has continued to increase over the years, with more than half of respondents (56 per cent) now saying they use a customer relationship management system, a 24 per cent increase from 2019. Even during the pandemic, SMBs are continuing to adopt new technology, with at least 1 in 5 SMB respondents reporting they have implemented at least one of the following technology solutions in the last six months, including email marketing software, customer service software, project task collaboration tools, or e-commerce software.

Growing SMB’s Prepare for Future Crises

Many SMB leaders foresee a future that looks different than business as usual — even after the pandemic subsides. The most anticipated updates are minor, but about one-eighth of SMB respondents (13 per cent) believe they’ll have an entirely new business structure. Not only are SMB leaders considering short-term changes, but they are preparing for future crises by adopting technology and digitizing operations. Leaders of growing SMBs are more likely to prepare for the future by digitizing three key areas: customer interactions, internal communications, and workflows.

"Globally, SMBs are at a critical juncture. The key to accelerating consumer demand and solving problems for scale, come down to how they leverage technology to deliver the best customer experiences. Amidst a challenging business environment, SMB leaders have displayed remarkable strength and resilience with only 16 per cent of SMB respondents in India expecting an entirely new structure post the pandemic. This demonstrates that SMBs' in India are resilient and positive of business continuity ensuring they get back on track," Sunil Jose, Senior Vice President, Salesforce India said in the company's official statement. 

The Indian business ecosystem was also covered in the report. 

  • 31 per cent of SMB respondents in India implemented a CRM solution in the last year, and 66 per cent have an existing CRM solution

 

  • Top considerations for new tech evaluation among SMB respondents in India are ease of use, trustworthiness of the vendor and impact on customer experience

 

  • Meeting customer expectations is the top constraint on operations for SMB respondents in India

 

  • SMB respondents in India most commonly find it challenging to bring innovative offerings to market, personalise customer engagements and keep up with demand when meeting customer expectations

 

  • Financial management is the top challenge SMB respondents personally face when growing their business and maintaining financial growth is the top challenge constraining future business growth

 

The report has covered various aspects of the business landscape. It gives a clear imagery of market situation and SMB entrepreneurs’ reaction toward it.

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