By Kevin O’Toole, Managing Director, Sky Connect
In the last 18 months, we went from bricks and mortar, to click and order.
And whilst moving bricks and mortar businesses to online out of necessity during the course of the pandemic was no easy feat, we’ve seen SMBs innovating to create new digital products and services that better serve their customers (whether online, or offline). And it’s working. According to a survey from Sky Connect, 79% of small British businesses noted that they have had to adapt their business model as a result of the pandemic, whilst three quarters (75%) also said that they feel optimistic about the future of the company.
Part of this resilience stems from businesses investing in the right tools and technology to adapt. In fact, according to a report from McKinsey and Company which looked into the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on technology adoption and digital transformation, more than half of companies said they were investing in technology for competitive advantage, or refocusing their entire business around digital technologies.
Despite these successes, challenges remain. As Britain’s bricks and mortar SMBs grow their digital offerings alongside their physical presence – be it products or services – we’re witnessing increased pressure on broadband services to deliver a fast and reliable service.
The good news is, by working with the right provider and putting customers at the heart of the decision-making process, SMBs can continue to reap the rewards of their innovation.
A new kind of strain on our digital infrastructure
Whilst network providers are trained to cope with sudden bursts and surges in web traffic – such as for streaming big sporting moments – this ‘surge’ in internet traffic is here to stay as the lines between the online and physical world become more blurred.
Customer behaviour is changing. E-commerce has become vital for businesses to reach their customer-base and improve revenue. For businesses to remain competitive, they’ll need the infrastructure that allows them to deliver a quality online service, at speed. That means reliable, high-speed connections are required to enable payments, support online sessions and facilitate virtual experiences.
Therefore, as we look to the longevity and success of SMBs post-pandemic, these businesses are under increased pressure to increase investment in customer-centric broadband services over the coming 12-18 months.
Adopt and adapt
This is an industry wide trend. Let’s take the fitness industry as an example of an SMB adapting to deliver a seamless experience for customers. At the peak of the pandemic, gym chains were vulnerable to losing customers. Unable to leave the comfort of their own homes, consumers were looking for new ways to keep fit and motivated. Gym chains like Pure Gym pivoted their business model in order to deliver their once in-person gym classes to their community of consumers online. Making these available on-demand gave consumers the flexibility to work out on their own schedule. For this to be successful, this video content had to be delivered across a quality broadband service.
Experience vs price
Networks have never been more important than they are right now. For SMBs continuing to innovate and adapt their product offering, we recommend:
- Working with a broadband provider that delivers a technology driven service which is relevant and accessible – from offering full fibre, fast broadband services, to 4G back-up, its about ensuring you’re equipped with a service that delivers a reliable and consistent service to customers
- Opting for broadband speed, reliability and customer service over price – whilst we’re all looking for the cheapest deal, opting for a package at a lower cost often means a lower quality service. This can lose you business. Invest for long-term success
- Putting your customers at the heart of your decision making – by ensuring you understand what your customers need and opting for a service that allows you to flex to these demands
Small business broadband is at risk of becoming a ‘race to the bottom’ with cut-price vendors driving down prices to unsustainably low levels, whilst under-investing in customer service and technology.
Quality, reliable internet access is critical to so many aspects of running a small business, from payments, to marketing and customer service. To thrive, grow and win new customers, it will be vital that SMBs focus on avoiding expensive and embarrassing outages, by investing in a broadband service that allows them to deliver a reliable and speedy service. Afterall, it’s their reputation on the line.