A new report from Salesforce demonstrates how small-and-medium-sized businesses are coping with the COVID-19 pandemic and how companies with a strong digital presence are better equipped to weather the storm.
The research, the results of the fourth edition of the company’s Small & Medium Business Trends Report, is a culmination of a survey of more than 2,300 business owners and leaders from around the world.
The report found four major trends: customer safety and safe interactions, optimism amid new challenges, digital-forward businesses are better equipped to survive volatile markets and using lessons learned over the last year to prepare for future crises.
According to the, businesses are making better use of technology to continue to grow their business during the pandemic. More than half of growing businesses surveyed (55%) said technology is driving their customer interactions, and 51% said it drives the growth of their customer base.
Only 24% of businesses surveyed said they’ve accelerated their technology investments, but 75% said they have either slowed or made no progress. Also, half of declining or stagnant businesses have slowed However, business leaders are embracing technology, including CRMs like Salesforce. The report found that 56% of businesses surveyed have adopted a CRM system, up from 51% in March 2020 and 45% in March 2019.
Recovery from the immediate impacts of the pandemic remains the top priority, but many businesses are now focused on long-term business resiliency, the report found.
Once the pandemic subsides, 60% will modify their business in some way, while just 33% said they’ll return to business as usual. Further, technology is driving those changes, as 38% said they’ve adopted technology to help digitize customer interactions, 35% said they’ve adopted technology to digitize internal communications and 34% have adopted technology to help digitize workflows.
According to the report, 64% of business leaders said they’ve implemented safety and sanitation policies for spaces where customers and employees frequent, 59% said they follow local public health mandates, 48% said they have introduced digital, contactless services and 43% said they’ve changed the layout of their stores of offices for social distancing.
Business leaders who made it this far into the pandemic aren’t pessimistic about their business’ future, as 72% of businesses said they were optimistic, although that is down somewhat from 80% in March.