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Written by April W Sullivan
on February 02, 2021

As we settle into the new year, one thing seems abundantly clear: the challenges brought on from 2020 will continue to linger for some time. From the ongoing spread of the novel coronavirus to the continued focus on social justice and human rights and the newfound appreciation for our local communities, many fresh ways of doing business popped up in 2020 and show no signs of disappearing soon. These are the five business trends you should look for in 2021.

Continuing to Work Remotely

With so much time and energy poured into bringing the workplace home back in March 2020, it's not uncommon to assume businesses will keep as many employees at home as possible throughout 2021. While some employers obviously can't allow their employees to work from home — thank you, essential workers! — many businesses have and will continue to use remote work culture for as long as they need to. With productivity and morale both proven to increase exponentially at home, it might be in the best interests of many businesses to keep employees working remotely indefinitely.

Groceries being delivered to a car through curbside pickupProviding Curbside Pickup

With each State (and, on a smaller level, each county within those States) implementing different measures to combat the pandemic, it can be challenging for a business to set broad guidelines that should be followed across the board. After all, what works in one area might be against the rules in another. With that being said, curbside pickup is one new business trend that you can carry out no matter what COVID-19 restrictions look like in your State. No matter if you're a retailer, a grocery store, or a restaurant, curbside pickup allows businesses to let customers shop online and pick up in-store without ever having to enter the store. With curbside options increasing over 200 percent since March, it's clear that this business trend worked well in 2020 and should continue to work well into 2021.

Did you know? While many people associate chatbots with websites and fielding questions, did you know that chatbots can impact the physical world in powerful ways? For example, with a QR code placed upon a curbside pickup, chatbots can effortlessly guide your customers through the process of getting their orders while your backend team is notified of their arrival. Give Zoe, our resident chatbot, a try to experience just a few of the ways a chatbot can support your business.

Open Signage Hanging on Glass Door of a Small BusinessPrioritizing Shopping Small

We all saw how hard small businesses had to fight during this past year, and any small business owner will tell you that the fight is far from over. Thankfully, this struggle has not gone unnoticed by the public. There was an enthusiastic and widespread prioritization of small business shopping during the 2020 holiday season, and customers will continue to favor shopping small in 2021. Prioritizing shopping small reflects the renewed support we have for our communities that came about during the lockdown, and it's a business trend that will continue to be at the forefront of everyone's mind next year.

Practicing Empathy in Customer Service

2020 was tough for many, many people—from losing a job to missing family and friends to seeing loved ones fight off COVID—one business trend that transcends all else is the idea of practicing empathy in customer service. Top-notch customer experience is a top priority right now, especially considering all the public has gone through and will continue to go through in the coming months. Empathy has really proven to be the best policy, especially for business owners of all sizes.

Focusing on E-commerce

A combination of COVID-19 restrictions and an increased consideration for people most vulnerable has resulted in a much greater focus on providing e-commerce options. Retailers, convenience stores, grocers, and restaurants have leaned into mobile and touchless payment options to help minimize contact between shoppers and employees. Many smaller businesses have also taken the time to set up online shopping options for customers—a win for both sides. This focus on e-commerce has taken too much effort, and energy to face away once the pandemic is behind us— e-commerce is here to stay, and where previously every medium and large business operated some form of storefront, many small mom and pop shops have now turned towards digital as well.

Dec. eBook Book DesignNo matter what 2021 holds, these five business trends will be there through it all. Above all else, each aims to help better the customer experience through top-notch customer service. To help make this possible and see all the ways your business can leverage our platform to improve the customer and employee experience, be sure to connect with one of our CX Advisors for a short demo. From live chat to video and voice calls to workflow management and many other tools in between, our platform can help elevate your business to achieve these 2021 business trends better.

Looking for even more ways to leverage customer experience? Download our in-depth eBook for free that shows you how to put the customer at the center of every decision and how that will transform and grow your business.

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