Increased technology, competition and customer expectations are all on the horizon for 2016. We’ve taken some time to review what the leading trends for the following year might be.
1 Increased Customer Scrutiny
Not responding effectively to customer scrutiny is likely to cost your business dear in 2016. Whilst word of mouth is one of the most effective forms of marketing, it’s also one of the surest ways of destroying your company’s reputation.
In its list of 44 business predictions for the coming year, news.com.au mention customers will have increasingly higher expectations of companies when it comes to managing complaints:
“It’s less and less easy to get rid of people with legitimate complaints by ignoring them or handing out a coupon.”
As the social web grows failing to manage customer scrutiny will have an increasingly large effect on your business. In the UK alone there has been an eight-fold increase in customer complaints made on social media. One in four social media users in the UK have used platforms to complain within the last three months.
Takeaway: Monitor your social networks and any negative complaints you receive. Ensure the right processes are in place to manage negative feedback, ensuring disgruntled customers don’t spread their views across the social web and beyond.
2 Employee Advocacy
Fast Company see 2016 as the year in which companies turn to their own employees to get the word out:
“Employee social advocacy programs, which encourage staff to share updates about the business on their own social media accounts, have grown by 191% since 2013 and are due to take off in the year ahead.”
Utilising employees to help promote your business is an untapped resource for many companies. A US report by Forrester mentions over half of consumers look first to recommendations from family and friends before making a purchase decision. Getting employees to help build awareness of your company is a great way to help you stand out in 2016, as many marketplaces become increasingly competitive.
Takeaway: Find creative ways to get employees more involved with your company over social media. This will help build awareness of your business and generate engagement with your workforce.
3 Generation Z
Born between 1994 – 2010, Gen Z is the mobile-first generation. Their entire lives have been shaped in the 21st century, connected through digital devices. In the workplace this will translate into an expectation to connect via mobile devices and have access to real-time information, 24×7.
Generation Z employees will continue to flood the market into 2016 with a report by PWC claiming they’ll account for nearly half the global workforce by 2020. Businesses will need to continue adapting to this generation of employees in the coming year.
Think creatively about how your business can leverage this younger generation.For example many companies are pairing up younger and older employees. Gen Z workers can mentor on social media and technology to bring older workers up to date with digital technologies. On the other hand, older workers can share and mentor on interpersonal and commercial skills.
Takeaway: Pair up older employees with the younger generation and leverage technology to better engage Gen Z workers in 2016.
4 Employee Engagement
ADP list employee engagement as a key area to prioritise in 2016.
“Employee engagement is strongly connected to business outcomes essential to financial success”
Being able to recognise and reward employees for performing well is a key to engagement. Inc recommend 4 things employees want more than a raise and each drives engagement:
- An employer they can be proud of
- A clear path of advancement
- A good relationship with their manager(s)
Businesses must also think about how to best recognise good work by their employees. According to a recent study 80% of highly engaged staff received some form of reward or recognition for good work, whereas just 35% of those who had no engagement at work received similar treatment.
In summary If you’re employees are more engaged they’ll care more about their work and company, perform better and be a lot less likely to leave your business.
Takeaway: Take time to better acknowledge employee performance throughout 2016 and build a culture where employees want to be at work.
5 Mobile Technology
News.com.au mention small businesses will take the next big step with mobile technology in 2016.
“Studies have shown that at least 60 per cent of small businesses consider mobile solutions essential. However, many have failed to fully use the benefits the technology offers.’
Companies who have fully embraced mobile are already seeing two times the revenue growth over those who haven’t. In addition Xero this year reported that two-thirds of SMEs save over 150 hours a year by using mobile technology.
Takeaway: Think about ways to streamline and improve your business operations using mobile technology. As mobile continues to develop into 2016 ensure your business doesn’t get left behind.
Gain the edge in 2016
The customer will continue to be king in 2016. By improving customer service and more highly engaging your workforce you’ll ensure customers delight in the service your business offers. Whilst leveraging technology and trends in employee advocacy will help streamline operations and build more awareness of your company.
As business becomes more competitive these trends will help you build a winning foundation for the coming year. Roll on 2016!