Retooling Your Business
Retooling Your Business
Businesses that embrace new customer experiences like virtual experiences and cashless operations will lead the way in our new world.
By: Nicole Fallon, Contributor
It's no secret the ongoing pandemic has impacted nearly every aspect of our daily lives. For small businesses, adapting to the new norms doesn't just keep people safe -- evolving to new expectations might also be their way to survive. And, as history has told us, necessity can drive innovation and opportunity, even through these uncertain times.
"The beauty of being a small business is they’re nimble and can make changes quickly," said Jennifer Roberts, CEO of Business Banking at Chase. "We’ve seen ice cream shops pivot to curbside and drive-up windows using simple handmade signs, dentists and doctors’ offices using texting and virtual consultations, and much more. Even if it’s not perfect right away, small businesses have to adapt to this new normal so their customers feel safe.”
How have customer needs changed?Nearly every industry has had to change its operations because of COVID-19, but industries that normally rely upon heavy in-person foot traffic have seen a more dramatic shift in consumer wants and needs. For instance, the U.S. restaurant industry lost $120 billion from March to May , and the retail industry saw a record drop of 14.7% in April due to brick-and-mortar store closures.
By necessity, these types of businesses pivoted to safely meet the needs of home-bound consumers with online ordering/shopping and home delivery. Now, as some businesses reopen their doors, consumers still expect these types of options as they navigate the ongoing pandemic.
A few basic things customers want from today's businesses include:
- Public safety accommodations. The health and safety of consumers and employees should be a top consideration. According to survey data from market research firm GfK, many U.S. consumers expect retailers to enforce social distancing (53%), offer options for disinfecting shopping baskets and/or hands (49%) and require store employees to wear masks on the job (43%).
- Fully virtual shopping experiences. Even if your business's retail location has the proper safety protocols in place, many customers still feel safer shopping for the things they need online rather than in person. For brick-and-mortar businesses, this means e-commerce, online ordering and home delivery options have gone from "nice-to-have" to "essential."
- Customized services. With so many businesses now shifting to online models that rely on consumer data, customers want their experience with a brand to be tailored to their tastes and shopping habits. Smart brands are leveraging detailed online quizzes and analytics tools to offer consumers exactly what they want, when they want it. Brands like Starbucks and Pinterest have perfected the art of highly-targeted offerings with their Star rewards program and Taste Graph, respectively, but smaller businesses can cash in on the personalization trend by paying close attention to their customer demographics and purchase data.
- Contactless payments. Cash-only businesses have quickly learned that consumers are wary of germ transmission when handling cash or physical credit cards. Offering contactless payments at the point-of-sale is now a necessity.
Embracing and adapting to new customer needsThe key to a successful business has always been embracing and adapting to what your customers want. Here's how to respond to the current market needs.
- Set up digital payments. If you don't already accept contactless payments now is the time to start. Financial institutions like Chase are helping small businesses adapt by making it easier to accept digital payments.
- Prioritize convenience and personalized experiences. Make it easy for customers to engage with you in a convenient and personalized way. For restaurants and retailers, this might mean priority curbside pickup or free local delivery for loyal customers. Service-based businesses and healthcare providers can offer virtual consultations, online appointment scheduling and contactless check-in. Fully-online businesses can create customer portals or apps that provide easy access to order history, tracking and customized offers/deals. In your interactions with customers, both in-person and through digital platforms, your goal should be a smooth, seamless, friendly transaction.
- Get your employees up to speed. Communicate any new protocols to employees and ensure everyone is able to provide a consistent, helpful experience. Make sure your employees understand their part in meeting people's needs, and empower them to make decisions that will improve your customers' experience. Reiterate the role they play in helping your customers survive COVID-19 and come out strong on the other end.
- Be part of the solution. In the post-pandemic world, it's not enough to sell helpful products and services. Businesses – even small ones – have a responsibility to be part of the solution. There are many options for companies to give back at the local level.
“We’re proud of the support we’ve given our business customers during these tough times, whether it’s crisis planning, fraud protection services or other financial relief," said Roberts. "There are no easy answers in this crisis but we’re in it together with our customers and we’re constantly thinking about what more we can do to help."
 National Restaurant Association survey, conducted May 15-25, 2020.
 National Retail Federation, June retail sales increase but recovery remains uncertain amid coronavirus resurgence, July 16, 2020.
 GfK survey, conducted May 18-19, 2020.
Need financial solutions to help your business adapt to changing customer needs? Visit Chase for Business to learn about the tools to help master digital banking for your business.
For Informational/Educational Purposes Only: The views expressed in this article may differ from other employees and departments of JPMorgan Chase & Co. Views and strategies described may not be appropriate for everyone, and are not intended as specific advice/recommendation for any individual. You should carefully consider your needs and objectives before making any decisions, and consult the appropriate professional(s). Outlooks and past performance are not guarantees of future results.
JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. Member FDIC. Equal Opportunity Lender, 2020 JPMorgan Chase & Co.
Published September 08, 2020