2020 IS1162297255 LGThere are over 30 million small businesses in the United States alone, and this number keeps growing each year. This means the survivors will be those that keep up with trends, changes in technology, new laws, and customer needs and take advantage of new opportunities while avoiding the pitfalls.

Even well-established businesses must adapt to business trends if they want to stay profitable. Different generations have different purchasing power and shopping habits, and technology makes it easier than ever to access this information.

From leveraging the power of social media marketing to new mobile technologies to hiring more remote workers, your business growth will rely on mastering and implementing the opportunities next year will bring.

Here are 10 business trends you should know about and be ready to take advantage of in 2020.

1. Personalized Customer Service

Top-notch customer service is the bread-and-butter of your business, and in 2020 you need to take it to the next level. FAQs, helplines, and chatbots are great, but it's personalized support that will take your business to new heights.

Customers will look for customized solutions to their problems and will often turn to your social media channels for help. The quicker you respond, the more respect and loyalty you'll earn. The more personalized your answers are, the better your relationship with your customers will be.

To win your customers' hearts in 2020, you'll also need to be intuitive and use different methods to get feedback. [quotesright]You need to know your customers well, actively listen to them, and be willing to go above and beyond to help them. [/quotesright]

Remember that it's easier and cheaper to retain existing customers and upsell them than it is to acquire new ones and spend even more money to keep them.

2. AI Won't Take Over Customer Experience

Artificial intelligence is one of the most powerful business trends, but not powerful enough to replace human workers. Customer experience will still rely on interpersonal relations, and this will continue well into 2020.

AI and automation will still be effective additions to employees and companies, but until the technology is sophisticated enough to perform on its own, there's no risk of AI taking over the customer experience.

No matter how advanced your chatbots are, customers will always cherish the help of a real person instead of a robot. Also, AI may take the customers through endless steps to reach the right page or solution, and many users will quit halfway through the process.

3. Leveraging Social Media Marketing

[quotes]Social media marketing (SMM) is a must for almost every business that wants to build an online presence.[/quotes] Customers often turn to social media for customer support, to learn about new features and trending business ideas, and leave feedback on products.

If you don't have an in-house SMM team, consider hiring one in 2020 or perhaps better, outsource this to a professional service that can advise and manage your entire program including Search Engine Marketing (SEO). You can also go the remote route and put together a team of experienced professionals from around the world.

Remember that social media is more than just posting company updates and images. You can use paid ads to build brand awareness, attract new customers, and generate leads.

4. Stories Are the Future

And while we’re on the topic of social media marketing, stories will be one of the fastest-growing 2020 business trends. [quotesright]People love stories! [/quotesright]

If used strategically, stories can help you reach new audiences and tell the story behind your products. Users will tune in to learn about your company, understand your mission, and interact with your brand.

Aside from Snapchat, stories are also available on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and messaging platforms like WhatsApp. They're a direct, instant way to connect with your followers, boost brand awareness, and attract new users.

Stories can also help you get customer feedback, generate user content, and show your products in action. These updates wouldn't work so well in blog or newsfeed settings, which is why companies turn to stories to keep users in the loop. Take time to learn how stories and standard posts differ so you can effectively direct your content to your audience.

5. Customer Reviews Are Key

Profit is the bottom line of every business, and without happy customers, there's no profit. No matter how good your products are or how professional your website is, your customers will always have the last word.

[quotes]They can make or break your online reputation, so you should see their feedback as a valuable piece of information.[/quotes] Good reviews can drive more sales, but bad reviews can help you improve your products, customer service, and even regain your trust with lost customers.

This is why in 2020, customer reviews will be key to your success. Most users who land on your website for the first time won't buy anything before they read customer reviews. While you can't control what people say about your brand online, you can control how you reply and how you handle unhappy customers.

If you ignore them or worse yet, argue with them, you risk losing new and existing customers. If you reply promptly and compensate for their negative experience, you'll earn more respect as a company that cares about its customers.

6. Hire More Remote Workers

The gig economy is booming, with about four million Americans working remotely, either as freelancers or as company employees. This number will keep growing in 2020, and many companies will start to hire more remote employees or outsource some of their operations.

There are companies that are fully remote, which means they don't even have an office space. Their employees are from all over the world, yet still, function as a team and are more productive than office employees.

With remote workers, you can access a larger pool of candidates and reduce your business and hiring expenses. Also, you won't need to rent bigger office space or buy tech equipment as your team grows. [quotesright]In turn, remote employees will avoid long commutes, have a better work-life balance, and be more productive. [/quotesright]

7. Optimizing Your Business for Mobile

Optimizing your website for mobile devices isn't just for SEO purposes. It's also important because most of your customers shop online using their mobile phones or tablets. This is especially true for millennials, who move through the entire customer journey via mobile devices.

Optimizing your business for mobile can also help you expand your marketing channels. You can use SMS marketing, social media, local SEO, mobile apps, and email marketing to keep customers engaged.

The entire customer journey and experience should flow smoothly on mobile. This means optimizing your website, social media channels, email newsletters, and search engine result pages.

8. Prioritizing Employee Happiness

Aside from your customers, your employees are the lifeline of your business. Their happiness and wellbeing are essential for great performance, and a lack of a work-life balance can easily make them leave your company.

Luckily, more and more companies realize the importance of highly motivated employees. Nowadays, a great salary and a long list of employee benefits aren’t enough. Companies that pay special attention to vacation days, allow remote work, and take care of their employees’ well-being are the future.  [quotesright]The companies that are early adopters will get the best employees, taking them away from the competition. [/quotesright]

In 2020, you can reduce your turnover rate by putting your employees first and letting them know how valuable they are for your company. Besides perks and benefits, you can also do this by offering promotions, salary increases, giving public recognition, and listening to their ideas and needs.

9. Using Employee Communication Apps

[quotes]Many companies still use outdated strategies to communicate with their employees.[/quotes] This results in wasting time on unproductive meetings, back-and-forth emails, and unnecessary phone calls. This is especially problematic for millennials, who are not only tech-savvy but also prefer to do everything on their phones.

This is why businesses big and small have to implement communication technology that doesn’t require conference rooms. Long and dragged out in-person meetings are no longer effective. One person talking while everyone else listens without participating is one of the best ways to waste your employees’ time and productivity.

Businesses that will boom in 2020 will implement effective employee communication solutions. This will help everyone keep track of conversations, files, and tasks without affecting employee productivity.

10. The Launch of 5G

The launch of 5G will revolutionize the way businesses and customers interact online. Higher speed means more effective communication, faster websites, and the rise of video marketing. Aside from speed, 5G will bring a whole new level of instant connection that will mean you need to be ready to deal with the implications of the new technology.

Customers will reach out to brands faster and via multiple channels and will expect instant replies. [quotesright]They’ll have easy, fast access to anything online and will gladly move on to a competitor at the slightest inconvenience. [/quotesright]

This type of speed also opens doors for innovation. Businesses that adapt to this technology and launch new products and services will have the advantage. In 2020, 5G will be released around the world, and businesses need to be ready for this change.

Are you ready?

These are the 10 trends that will be having an immediate impact on your business in 2020. Are you considering them in your strategic planning?

Whether you're a small business or a big player, each year brings new changes that companies must adapt to in order to keep up with their customers.

From using social media stories and optimizing your business for mobile devices, to making sure your employees are happy, 2020 trends will benefit businesses, employees, and customers alike.

Be sure you are aware of them and using them to you reevaluate your performance and set bigger, better, and smarter goals in the new year.