30% SMBs in India expect business to be as usual post-pandemic: Survey

A survey conducted by The Harris Poll found that digital-forward SMBs are better equipped to handle market volatility and a 24% increase in SMBs using customer relationship management systems was observed compared to last year.  

Tech giant Salesforce recently conducted its fourth edition of Small & Medium Business (SMB)Trends Report in India capturing insights from SMB owners and leaders. The research conducted by ‘The Harris Poll’ in two parts. The initial study was conducted in March with a follow-up study in August 2020. It provides insights from SMB owners and leaders at the beginning and amid the pandemic.

The Harris Poll is a poll conducted by Harris Insights and Analytics, market research and global Consulting firm headquartered in Chicago and New York City. The report states about a third of small and medium businesses (SMB) expect business to be routine following the Covid19 pandemic.

Sensing opportunity in adversity SMBs continued to adopt new technology, with 1 in 5 respondents implementing at least one (email marketing software, customer service software, project task collaboration tools, or e-commerce software) technology solutions in the last six months.

The following four questions were asked to understand the cause and effect at the start and during the pandemic to over 2300 SMBs owners and leaders and found that digital-forward SMBs are better equipped to handle market volatility. 

  • How pandemic and racial injustices affect their motivations, challenges, and goals?
  • How demographics shape entrepreneurial experiences and outlooks?
  • The role of digital transformation in driving business resilience?
  • How SMB, leaders are planning for recovery and growth post-COVID-19?

Sunil Jose, the Senior Vice President, SalesForce India, commented “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% of SMB respondents in India expecting an entirely new structure post the pandemic.”

The study also found during the last six months SMBs, in reality, increased its revenue by more than 1%, and are most likely to have taken actions to change customer interactions since the pandemic. 

SMB’s are better poised to offer customers flexibility, such as more comfortable return policies and payment plans. It was also found SMB’s during the pandemic were facing operational restrictions, compliance mandates, and shifting customer expectations, however, SMB leaders remain optimistic about the future of their businesses.

72, percent of SMB respondents, say they are optimistic about the future of their business.

Few other key findings:

  1. 31% of SMB respondents implemented a CRM solution in the last year, and 66% have an existing CRM solution.
  2. Top considerations for new tech evaluation among SMB respondents are ease of use, the trustworthiness of the vendor and impact on customer experience.
  3. Meeting customer expectations is the top constraint in operations.
  4. SMB respondents most commonly find it challenging to bring innovative offerings to market, personalise customer engagements and keep up with demand when meeting customer expectations.
  5. Financial management is the top challenge SMB respondents personally face when growing their business and maintaining, Financial growth as the top, challenge constraining future business.