By Stephanie Love, Thryv
The new normal is a cliché buzzword, we get it. But there’s a reason it is the new normal rather than the regular normal. The pandemic has changed the way we live our lives, including the contactless way much of business now gets done.
According to a study by Capgemini Research Institute, 77% of consumers say they’ll be more cautious about cleanliness, health and safety post-pandemic. Meaning, many of the new systems and processes businesses deployed in the past year are actually here to stay.
Here are some trends prompted by the pandemic that are here for the long run.
Contactless Payments and Processes
Contactless payments were on the rise pre-pandemic. But COVID enticed more people to adopt contactless options like tap-and-go credit cards and mobile wallets.
According to the Visa Back to Business Study: 2021 Outlook, 74% of small businesses expect their consumers to continue going contactless even after the vaccine is available to all. Plus, when price and selection are comparable, 63% of consumers worldwide would switch to a provider that offered a contactless option.
Small businesses looking to implement contactless options in their operations should know it’s more than just submitting payment. It’s about streamlining the entire process:
- Replace traditional paper receipts with digital copies emailed or texted right to your customer’s phone.
- Enable your customers to pay by SMS text or in an online portal.
- While checks may feel out of date, many customers still want to pay with funds in their checking accounts. Accommodate this by allowing customers to pay online (via ACH) with a payment processor like ThryvPay.
Furthermore, it’s more than just payments people want to be able to make from their phones, they are looking for an entire contactless customer experience.
Going, Going, Virtual
While many of us feel like we are becoming Zoom zombies, we won’t be writing virtual events off post-pandemic.
We can expect to see an increase in hybrid events and services. This is due to the ability of virtual events to provide people more than just safety. They also provide convenience and efficiency for patrons, enabling them to interact with your business on their own terms.
An additional benefit on behalf of businesses is that virtual offerings open your business up to customers outside of your typical geographic reach.
If you’re not sure about hosting your first event and don’t know where to start – check out this virtual events checklist.
Curbside, More than Contactless
As we all drew an invisible 6-foot bubble around ourselves in the early months of 2020, businesses adjusted the ways they interacted with their customers, too. Prioritizing health and safety, many contactless solutions were implemented, including curbside pick-up and service options.
But, as we begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel, businesses shouldn’t expect to hang up their hats when it comes to curbside, here’s why:
- Customer Convenience: Curbside provides customers the accessibility of ordering online with a quick turn-around time for picking orders up. In many cases, pick-ups can be made on the same day.
- Health & Safety: With curbside pick-up, person-to-person contact can be drastically minimized, if not entirely eliminated.
- Business Profitability: Curbside can also be more profitable for businesses by reducing shipping costs or cutting down on service fees charged by third-party delivery services.
In addition to the benefits listed above, curbside works for a wide variety of business types, from restaurants to doggy daycare facilities.
So, if you haven’t designated a parking space for curbside pick-up, now’s the time.
DIY Leads to Increased Reviews
In the past year, many people decided to take matters into their own hands and learn new skills — some of which should be left to the professionals. This included everything, from coloring their own hair to retiling their bathroom.
But, if more people are taking the time to use products at home in a do-it-themselves fashion, that means more online reviews for the businesses that support them. In the beauty sector, as DIY hair transformations and fails began to rise, so did reviews on hair care products. For instance, according to Yelp, the rate of review mentions for color-correcting was up 29% this year.
While we can expect consumers to turn some projects back over to professionals, many will continue to channel their inner MacGyver. This means we will be seeing increased online reviews on the products and services purchased to complete these tasks.
For many businesses, increasing the number of reviews is great, but the fear of a negative review can be paralyzing. Especially when you have a novice using your product to fix their plumbing issues. But don’t fear, even negative reviews can be an opportunity in disguise.
Confidence in Contactless
As we slowly move towards the new normal, it is clear that these contactless solutions won’t be slipping away. Adopting a customer experience platform, like Thryv, is one way small businesses can provide their customers the safety, efficiency and convenience they’ve come to appreciate during the pandemic.