Pandemic-induced contactless services are here to stay, permanently


Chennai: 99% of small businesses globally plan to offer contactless services even after the pandemic, in fact permanently, according to a report by Salesforce Inc.

The report, titled ‘Small and Medium Business Trends’, analysed responses of more than 2,500 small business owners and leaders globally to determine how support from local communities has affected their enterprises and what they are doing to deepen trust with customers and employees. The report also looks at the role technology has played in their growth, and what has changed for them in the past year and how that impacts their future.

“99% of SMBs plan to offer contactless services permanently, leading with secure digital payments (78%), mobile orders (68%) and digital customer service (62%),” the report stated.

Salesforce said that many SMB leaders were forced to relook at their strategies in order to keep their businesses afloat, which in turn made their operations more efficient.

“100% of SMBs in India with some of their operations online moved more online in the last year, and 82% of them feel the operational shifts made over the last year will benefit their business long-term,” the company said in a statement. “61% of growing SMBs in India have accelerated investments in marketing over the past year (the sample size was small — less than 100).”

The survey was conducted online by The Harris Poll on behalf of Salesforce between June 21, 2021, and July 12, 2021, among 2,534 SMB owners and leaders in North America, South America, Europe, and Asia Pacific. Respondents are 18 years of age or older, employed full-time, part-time, or self-employed, and owners or senior executives at their businesses with 2-200 employees and annual revenue of less than $1 billion.



The pandemic impact

According to the Salesforce report, small businesses struggled to maintain revenue streams through the pandemic shutdowns, but governments and local communities alike stepped up to help. The report found that 62% of SMBs in India received financial support from their community, which has been vital to their businesses’ survival.

The company said that SMBs are focusing on meeting customer expectations and deepening trust by providing employees with transparent communications and flexibility. Since the pandemic began, 59% of SMBs in India have expanded ways customers can reach them and 48% have prioritised deepening relationships over one-time transactions.

“Despite a tough year, the pandemic was helpful in aiding the faster adoption of technology in the financial services sector aided by support from the regulators,” Parth Updaphyay, chief product officer at Eduvanz, said. “As a digital-first startup, the nimbleness and agility gave us the opportunity to innovate rapidly in a post-pandemic world where no-contact processes have become the need of the hour.”



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