SMBs Warm Up to New Tech But Are Skeptical of Impersonal Interactions

Photo courtesy of Fancy Crave.

A freshly released report from SMB software firm Broadly uses data from a survey of 300 SMB leaders to paint a picture of the American SMB in 2019: gradually embracing mobile-first communication, skeptical of innovation that undercuts human connection, and ambivalent toward large digital marketplaces like Amazon and Etsy.

SMBs prize customer loyalty, ranking it as even more crucial to their success than revenue and sales. As they attempt to retain customers and maintain good relationships, they are feeling the pressure to conform to on-demand standards. The majority said they feel like they have only an hour to get back to customers before risking losing their business.

To that end, SMBs are embracing mobile-first channels including email, texting, and social. While telephone calls remain the primary channel of communication, 66% of SMBs are using email more than five years ago, 55% are using texts more often, and 49% are more often using social. Thirty-four percent of consumers 18-34 say they prefer to text with businesses, suggesting SMBs will need to get used to that channel in coming years to keep up with younger customers.

As for chatbots, SMBs say not too fast. Seventy-three percent have never considered them either because implementation is daunting or perceived as undesirable. A striking 85% see them as impersonal, and 70% fear customers will be turned off by an automated communication approach.

It looks like chatbot vendors have their work cut out for them when it comes to the SMB market.

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Joe Zappa is the Managing Editor of Street Fight. He joined Street Fight as a contributing writer in 2015, has compiled the daily newsletter since 2016, and has spearheaded the newsroom's editorial operations since 2018. Follow him on Twitter @joe_zappa, and shoot him an email at jzappa@streetfightmag.com.

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