Due to the unprecedented circumstances surrounding the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) crisis, some products supplied by Pollock Orora may not be cancelled or returned. These high-demand products include, but are not limited to, the following: gloves, sanitizers, disinfectant chemicals and wipes. Products ordered now are considered firm commitments to purchase and are considered non-cancellable and non-returnable. Orders cannot be cancelled and the product ordered cannot be returned for any reason other than a manufacturing defect. We will make every attempt to meet your requested needs, both during this crisis and for many years in the future. We appreciate your understanding as we all work to get through these challenging times.

Also, due to raw material shortages, labor shortages, SKU reductions and transportation issues in the market, LTL and Ground Freight transit times may be extended.

3 Essentials for Managing Customer Perception

Perception is everything in the business world.

You may have exactly the same product as another company.

But if they have a stronger brand image, consumers will purchase their product more often than yours.

A lot goes into consumer perception of your brand.

Let’s take a look at how your customer service team’s work can improve consumer perception of your brand:

1. Gathering Data: Time It Right and Keep It Relaxed

For starters, your customer service associates can simply ask your customers for feedback about your product or service.

The key doesn’t lie so much in the ask. It lies in how and when your associates ask.

A great time to ask is after your customer has used your product or service a little. And another good time to ask is at the end of a customer service conversation.

When it comes to how you ask, some customers don’t mince words when sharing their thoughts and feelings with you. However, most will somewhat shade the truth because they don’t want to hurt your feelings.

So your customer service associates need to pay close attention to their tone of voice and the words they use to ask for feedback.

A simple, open-ended question in a calm voice, such as,”How did you feel about your experience with our product?” puts no pressure on the customer to give feedback in any particular way.

With honest feedback, your customer service team can learn what to do and not do to improve consumer perception of your brand.

2. Follow the Leader…And Reward Your Associates for Desirable Customer Service Work

People will always do more of what you incent them to do. It’s a proven psychological fact by researchers in countless studies.

Begin with your execs at the top. They need to show the behavior they expect from your customer service associates.

Your front line always follows the actions (not necessarily the words) of your leadership.

Pick out special customer service interactions shortly after they happen.

Share the story with other customer service associates on the team so they know what to aim for.

Then just spread the love and rewards with your associates and watch your brand perception grow like wildfire!

3. Devise an Omnichannel Customer Service Strategy

Easy to say. Difficult to do.

Today, your customers may want email support, live chat, phone help, video chat, co-browsing, Facebook, WhatsApp, and who knows what other forms of help!

It’s not easy to devise a consistent customer service experience across all these channels.

But you do need to engage with your customers and figure out which ones they need most.

Every customer has their own preference. And the more you can meet their needs, the better your brand perception.

Offering a consistently excellent customer service experience that builds your brand isn’t easy.

With these tactics now in your toolbelt, you can increase the perception of your brand and win more loyal customers who happily tell their friends and family about you!

Should Your C-Store Open a Ghost Kitchen?

Ghost kitchens salvaged the restaurant industry during an unprecedented time in history.

And nterestingly, ghost kitchens began popping up in 2017. Back then, they had absolutely no utility and so they didn’t really catch on.

But, ghost kitchens certainly make sense now. How could your c-store benefit from implementing one?

First, let’s define exactly what a ghost kitchen is in the c-store world. It’s actually exactly like a ghost kitchen anywhere else with one notable difference: customers order digitally away from your c-store rather than directly at it.

However, this doesn’t necessarily mean a ghost kitchen makes sense for your c-store.

Consider these factors to make that determination for yourself:

1. What is the Best Location?

Per a September 2020 article at NACS Magazine, the ideal location for a ghost kitchen lies in lower rent districts.

This is because you don’t have to rely on foot traffic to get business. You don’t need to sink $1 million or more to make your c-store look amazing.

Since ghost kitchens thrive on fast delivery speed, locating yours near a high population center gives you the most opportunity.

2. The Right Partners

You don’t have to invent your own ghost kitchen system if you don’t want to.

You can outsource the entire operation.

You don’t even need to have the physical space. All you need is the desire, and willingness to research potential ghost kitchen partners.

We won’t recommend any names because we don’t know the quality of any particular services.

But understand that they do exist and can help you quickly capitalize on this opportunity.

3. Developing the Right Menu for In-Demand Meals

However you go about creating your ghost kitchen, you need to have analytics available so you can deliver your local market what it wants.

And as you do that, keep your eyes peeled for high-margin ideas that can be transitioned into other profitable opportunities.

For example, you could offer quick-fix Italian sides for tapas.

4. Build Your Brand and Reputation

Ghost kitchens will continue to catch on. But as with most businesses, the majority will fail and go away.

However, yours won’t if you focus on creating a strong brand.

Delicious food, fast delivery, and quick resolutions to complaints will secure your future.

This sounds simple. But to do things the way you say you will, in the time you say will, and consistently for years is difficult to match.

5. Create Separate Brands for Distinct Market Segments

You can be all things to all people. That was not a typo!

You can serve all markets and do it well. You just have to do it under a specific brand name for each market.

Otherwise, your market wonders how you can do so many things well and chooses the company who targets a niche instead.

So, if you do Asian, Latin, or burgers, create separate brand lines for each. Start with the one you know the best and have the highest chance for success. Then expand.

Ghost kitchens aren’t for every c-store. But they’re a great natural next step. And executed right, a ghost kitchen can quickly become an excellent new revenue center.

3 Essential Issues for Customer Service Team Leaders to Focus on in 2021

In business, you always have more to focus on than you have time available, right?

The key to success lies in figuring out where to focus your efforts.

Pick the wrong thing, and you waste months, or even years, figuring out it was the incorrect path to be on.

So, it only makes sense to borrow from the experience of others where you can.

Here’s a few of the top priorities, as identified by key players and minds:

1. Optimizing Your Digital Experiences

Fareed Zakaria, CNN anchor, wrote the book “10 Lessons for a Post-Pandemic World,” which really contains key considerations for all aspects of society.

Those lessons apply to businesses too.

Whether you agree with his politics or not, you can’t deny his point that “digital experiences have staying power.”

This was actually ramping up for the decade prior to coronavirus, which has only amplified the effect.

If you sink company resources into digital customer service, you’re moving in the right direction.

That’s what the market demands. And more and more so as Millennials and Generation Z age.

2. Constant Growth and Learning

This almost goes without saying.

But as you know, many companies put customer service at the bottom of their list of priorities.

Think of all the consumer services you use. You can probably name one or more companies who make it clear they could care less about you as a customer.

It makes you wonder why they even have a customer service team at times.

How much do you think they invest in the growth and learning of their customer service team?

If you do any search related to the companies most loved by consumers, Amazon comes out at or near the top.

One of the reasons, according to Laura Melisa Forero, a senior customer service analyst at Amazon, is the company’s focus on experiences: “We want to offer the customer a high-quality experience, even if our representatives are working remotely in their home office.”

And to make that happen, they never rest. They’re always growing and learning how to do customer service better.

3. Improve Service Efficiency with Technology – Without Increasing Stress

Bobby Stapleton, a Senior Manager of Customer Support at Intercom, says, “We released a research report last year that found nearly half (47%) of support teams said inbound volume increased since COVID-19, and by an average of 51% above their normal volume.

Do you have the resources to increase the size of your customer service team by 51%?

No one does.

So the only thing you can do is improve your efficiency.

Working your employees more hours or asking them to do more with the same time available is a recipe for resentment, burnout, poor productivity, and low employee retention.

You must learn how to automate (without sacrificing too much with customer relationships) using technology.

Customer service is always a challenge. And hopefully these tips have helped you identify what you can do to keep it top-notch going forward.

How to Hire the Best Customer Service Team Leader

Think of the greatest leader you’ve ever encountered in your career or personal life.

What did they do differently than other so-so leaders you’ve known?

How did they make you feel? What did they get you to focus on? How far did you think you could go with them?

Leaders are all over the place. They’re a dime a dozen. But truly great leaders are rare.

Here’s the qualities to look for, and some ideas on how you might identify those qualities:

1. Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence, or “EQ,” refers to someone’s ability to recognize their own emotions or those of others.

As the saying goes, “business is all about relationships,” isn’t it?

So then it only makes sense to identify a high EQ in the candidates you interview for your customer service team leader position.

High-EQ people have at least 14 obvious traits.

For example, a high-EQ person has a large vocabulary with precisely identified words they use to describe various emotions.

They would never say they feel “bad.” That’s too vague. They would say they feel frustrated, irritable, anxious, ashamed, irate, guilty, and so on.

We can’t cover the whole list of traits they have here. But you can read the top 14 to identify in a post at Business Insider.

2. Data-Driven

Being a great team leader doesn’t mean you only focus on emotions and relationships.

The truly top-notch balance that skill with an in-depth knack for understanding and using data.

They know how to create goals that help customers, and your team, achieve measurable outcomes.

And they understand how to do this for your team members too.

Everything is measured so they can learn what works, what doesn’t, why, and what to do next.

3. Clear Communication

Your team leader will be communicating with customers and your own associates all day long.

They have to know how to get to the point in as few words as possible, while still maintaining the tact necessary to avoid harming their relationships.

They have to be able to do this both verbally and in written form.

During the interview, you should not feel confused frequently.

Of course, it can take some back-and-forth while you both learn how to communicate.

But the candidate should be able to quickly adjust and get you both on the same page.

4. Advertise Your Job Where You Think You’ll Find the Right Person

Different types of people hang out in various areas – online and off.

You might even use a headhunter to find the proverbial needle in a haystack team leader you seek.

But then again, if you don’t, make sure you understand the demographic of the applicants at the place where you post your job ad.

You want to be in the right place so you give yourself the greatest chance of getting in front of the type of candidate you seek.

It’s not easy to find truly exceptional customer service team leaders. This post even oversimplifies the process.

But you have to start somewhere. And these tips will help you get going in the right direction.

How to Manage the Anticipated Q4 2021 Sales Boom

Did you ever think you would live to see things this crazy in retail?

Many 2020 projections held that the supply chain issues caused by COVID would easily be cleaned up by now.

But they’ve only become much worse than before.

For example, Nike cut its sales projections dramatically after COVID forced factory closures in Vietnam that wiped out months of production.

Bed, Bath, & Beyond’s stock price plunged from a high of $44.19 on June 2nd to $14.53 on October 21st after shipping woes came to light.

The cost of cargo containers has risen 5-10 times over last year’s costs. And thousands of containers lay backed up in port, with product just sitting on them.

And to top it all off, people in countries that supply product to America are losing interest in manufacturing jobs. Chinese youth, understandably and unsurprisingly, would much rather get into tech jobs than work at factories.

If all that’s not enough, ecommerce sales are expected to rise by 35% over last year.

So you have a slew of short and long-term factors causing the mess we find ourselves in. And many retailers think they’ll run out of Christmas product mid-November.

What can you do about all that?

Well, here’s some thoughts:

1. Buy Old, But Still Relevant, Inventory and Increase Your Safety Stock

Any profit is better than no profit at all. Suppliers have consistently said they just cannot fulfill all the orders coming their way.

Maybe you can’t get the latest trending products.

But, maybe you can get product that’s just a little bit old while still not being completely irrelevant.

Look to fill your shelves with the next best thing. It may provide you with the cash you need to make it through the next several months.

And while you’re at it, make sure to go a little deeper than you usually do.

Who knows? Q4 may extend further into January because consumers can’t get what they want in late November and early December.

2. Extend Your Store Hours and Conveniences Offered

Some stores refuse to stay open on Thanksgiving because they know their customers don’t like to see that.

But more than 50% of retail execs surveyed by Today said they plan to be open on Thanksgiving.

Many are also offering every possible method of fulfillment for customers: buy online, curbside pickup, ship from store, and buy in store with home delivery.

Despite all of this, most retailers forecast stronger sales than ever.

You don’t know how this situation will sort itself out.

All you can do is what you can to make the most of it. And hopefully, this ends up being your best Q4 ever.

Top 4 Essential Customer Service Lead Indicators to Observe

It sure can be a challenge to measure things in business, can’t it?

After all, if you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.

But before you begin to measure, you need to know what to measure. And it’s nice to identify your lead indicators so you can mitigate problems coming down the road.

Here are some of the top lead indicators to spend your time measuring:

1. Net Promoter Score (NPS)

How likely is a customer to recommend your product or service to others?

That’s what Net Promoter Score measures.

When you consistently provide excellent service, you turn your customers into salespeople.

What’s better than free sales?

So, it only makes sense to make NPS one of the lead indicators you track.

NPS then can be used to affect lag indicators like retention, growth, and churn.

2. Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT)

Happy customers remain loyal. They keep your revenue stable and predictable. And they’re highly likely to tell their colleagues about you too.

Plus, you’re in customer service to help keep your customers happy, right?

Did you know you can also compare your customer satisfaction score with other companies in different industries?

Yes. You can make an apples-to-apples comparison.

And you can do it at the American Customer Satisfaction Index.

3. Activation

“Activation” simply refers to the time it takes to make your customer active in your system.

The shorter your customer’s time to activation, the shorter their time to value. And the shorter their time to value, the greater your ROI.

Activation isn’t just constrained to being a lead indicator though. It can be a lagging indicator too, if that’s how you choose to measure it.

4. Usage

How much does your customer use your product or service?

The more they use what you offer, the more likely they are to remain your customer and not move on to your competition.

And of course, it will affect lagging indicators like retention and churn.

5. Bonus: Top Lagging Indicator

You now have the top leading indicators at your disposal.

It’s only fair to also reward your reading up to this point with the top lag indicator you can measure: renewal.

Renewal is the rate at which customers choose to purchase your product or service again.

If they do that, you know you’ve done a lot right.

By the way, lead indicators like adoption, customer engagement score, and productivity of your customer service associates are key in affecting renewal.

So, what did you learn? Which lead indicators will you begin to track, or work at improving?

Armed with the data you discover, you can improve your product or service so you gain the edge on your competition.

What Leading Companies Are Doing to Navigate the COVID Delta Variant

On October 11th, Governor Greg Abbott issued an executive order banning any entity from requiring employees to have the COVID vaccine.

He’s also pushing the Texas legislature to pass a law enforcing the same.

So in some ways, that makes running your business easier here in Texas.

But there’s still a lot of unknowns. And the spread of the Delta variant makes running your business wildly unpredictable day-to-day.

So let’s take a look at what some of the leading corporations, and some smaller companies, are doing to cope.

After all it may be several months, or even possibly a few years, before we get back to normal again:

1. Develop Creative Solutions

Somehow, the show must go on. You can’t just shut down your business and ride out the difficulty caused by COVID.

It really does not take a lot of imagination or bravado to adjust in many cases.

For example, Lisa McCabe ran a dance studio in San Diego County. About 90% of her classes happened at area preschools.

She didn’t do it immediately, but after testing out a dance class online, she found people really wanted to continue on with virtual dance.

So, she combined that with some networking with local organizations to offer free dance classes.

And just 4 months after the closing down of her dance classes, she had more than 2,000 paying students and was able to open up a new studio.

You can read about her story, and others, at CNBC.

2. Pushing Back Plans to Return to the Office

Many large corporations have pushed their plans to return to office off. A lot have been aiming for a September/October return.

But now that’s being put off until January.

Amazon, Google, Blackrock, and many others have done just that.

While employees may get restless and feel disconnected and isolated, they are generally more productive when working from home.

So even though it may be challenging to have many employees working remotely, it may actually be a net positive for your company’s bottom line.

3. Stay Abreast and Be Ready to Change Fast

In the current business climate, you’re literally living one day at a time. The decision you made yesterday may need to be changed the next.

Large grocery chains like Kroger and Publix have begun to require their employees to wear masks in areas where the Delta variant is spreading fast.

You may have to risk looking like a hypocrite or like you don’t know what you’re doing.

New research is coming out. And you have to adjust as best you can.

It’s tough to deal with COVID. Society has extremely different views on masks and vaccines.

People have strong opinions. Experts and leaders may have personal agendas affecting their decision-making.

It’s not easy.

So hopefully this information will help guide you as the situation unfolds.

3 Strategies for Truly Listening to Your Customers

Do you have a person in your life who really does an exceptional job at consistently listening to you?

Think of how much you look forward to being with them. They almost always get the message. And when they don’t, they ask questions until they do.

You can literally feel their genuine concern as you talk. If only everyone in your life were that way!

Your customers are no different. They want great listeners. And the better your customer service team listens, the more your customers trust and stay with you, rather than moving on to your competition.

So here’s some steps for teaching your customer service team to truly listen:

1. Create a Safe, Judgment-Free Zone that Fosters Trust

When you make this atmosphere, customers share immediately what’s on their mind so you get to the heart of their matter fast. You may also pick up on other information that cues you into other ways you can improve your business so your customers remain more loyal.

No question your customer asks is stupid. Don’t meet any remark they make with defensiveness.

Just listen.

Respond with questions to make sure you get the message.

Then watch your customers calm down.

2. Seek to Understand

To create a truly exceptional customer service experience, you must only seek to really get what’s going on with your customers.

Assume the best about your customer. If they’re angry, put yourself in their shoes. They’ve had a long day and something isn’t going quite right. Maybe they have an overwhelming amount of stress going on in their personal lives.

Here, we’re getting at the fact that you shouldn’t just seek to “get the message.” Rather, “feel the message.”

When you truly come as close to experiencing your customer’s thoughts and emotions as possible, the desire to take action and help will come naturally.

And they’ll instinctually respond with calmer, more cooperative attitudes.

3. Stay Calm and Never Interrupt

Yes. You have an intense workload. It’s stressful. And it makes it tempting for you to speak fast and get your customer a resolution as quickly as possible.

While the outcome may end up okay, this gives your customers a negative vibe during the experience.

If they get the impression you’re in a hurry, they feel like just another number to be dealt with.

And interrupting? That really hurts the relationship. Suddenly, your customer feels dominated and not listened to. And that sets the ground for a potentially highly negative experience.

You should come across as calm, and perhaps even a tad slow to respond. This keeps potentially turbulent emotions in check. And it sets the foundation for a smooth and easy customer service experience.

Leaving customers with the impression that your team truly listens and cares is no easy thing.

But with practicing, tracking your metrics, and systematic improvement, you’ll get to the point where your customer service team becomes a true revenue center.

4 Tips for Managing Customer Service During the 2021 Holiday Season

The holidays change everything about your business. What worked for the brunt of the year now suddenly changes.

And customers are certainly more anxious to get what they want when they want it. They have friends, family members, and lovers they don’t want to disappoint.

So, how do you manage all the chaos as it begins on Black Friday and runs well into January?

Here’s some tips for helping your customer service associates make it through this hectic time:

1. Make Customer Self-Service Easier

Using the web to automate your customer service and reduce the load on your team is a must.

Make sure your customer self-service FAQ is up-to-date. Make the links to the most commonly asked questions abundantly obvious.

This doesn’t have to be sophisticated. You just need to have the answers and make them easy to access.

Perhaps shoot a few quick video how-tos as well. Every little bit makes your customers happier and reduces load on your associates.

2. Add More Associates

In today’s business world, you have as many options as you could imagine to add more associates to your customer support team.

First, you can actually start by having your current associates work more hours. But remember to account for burnout. Don’t drive your own team so hard that they have no energy left to give.

That will dramatically harm their performance. And you’ll have more angry customers and higher return rates.

Once you’ve optimized your productivity within your team, then you can figure out how to add more associates.

Today, you can easily outsource support overseas or domestically. You can also hire temp associates.

Whatever you choose to do, it works best if you have detailed procedures and performance metrics already in place.

3. Don’t Forget to Upsell

Margins for many businesses increase noticeably during the Christmas season.

And, your customer service associates can (and should) be a part of your revenue optimization strategy.

Shift your thinking about your customer service associates from just another set of task-doers to a revenue center.

Not only can they help increase revenue by keeping your customers happy, but they can also help with additional sales too.

For example, they could ask your customer if they have the warranty plan for their product.

Or, if the customer purchases a certain product, they may also be interested in a product other customers commonly purchase with it.

4. Reward Your Customers’ Loyalty

Hey, what better way to make your customers happy than by offering them a small discount?

This may de-escalate the situation entirely. Or it may be enough to convert them from a one-time customer to a long-term customer.

Either way, ‘tis the season to be giving.

Overall, remember your customers are people. Focus on relationships, not on getting things done.

And you’ll make it through the Christmas season in better shape than ever!

4 Ways to Beat Your Competitor’s Customer Service

The big companies in your space have resources you don’t and can execute in ways you can’t.

But, you have a leg up in many ways too.

So, here’s how you can sneak up on your competitors and win over more customers (possibly even some of theirs) with your customer service team:

1. Don’t Panic If Your Technique Doesn’t Scale

Scaling feels good because you know more revenue is coming in. You can feel more zeroes lining up.

But, even though you’re wise to scale your customer service processes as much as possible, don’t lose sleep if some of your techniques don’t scale.

For example, say you have a customer who needs a small project change done. They say not to worry about it until tomorrow.

Instead, blow them away by taking care of it now.

Scalable? No.

Does it make for a great impression and build a relationship that lasts and spreads your name to more customers?

Yes.

Think of how many large companies in your space will do the same. Are there any?

2. Give More Information Than Your Competitors

Say you’re working on a large project for your customer. You have an agreed-upon deadline.

Most companies won’t communicate much until the deadline appears.

So, you can easily stand out, build a ton of trust, and reduce a lot of stress by sending a weekly email of exactly what you worked on.

Also show what you will work on in the week ahead.

Make sure to add info about what you expect the project’s completion date to be.

3. Only Offer Customer Service Where You Can Do It Well

If you really want to nail customer service, many companies recommend you do it through as many channels as possible.

After all, your customers will be on many different social media channels. They may prefer a chat bot.

Or they might want extended hours by phone.

It’s easy to trap yourself into trying to cover more channels than you really can. And that leads to lower quality customer service.

So, you have to draw your own line in the sand. What channels can you truly ace and provide memorable customer service on?

Stick to those. And don’t add more until you know you can master them.

4. Master Customer Self-Service

Even though live human connection can be a great way to stand out, many of your customers still prefer a fast experience.

They may have just a little yes/no question that takes only a few seconds to answer.

So, make that answer simple for them to get. Have an online customer service center complete with both videos and written content to answer many of the common questions you get.

Make sure you use the exact language your customers use so they can easily search your site and get their answer.

You’ll also have to review the content after every 6-12 months to make sure it’s up-to-date.

Yes. You can beat your competition. And it doesn’t take massive effort. Simply review what they do (maybe become a customer yourself). Then do what they can’t.

And watch your customers, and your bottom line, thank you for it!

How To Survive As the Pandemic Winds Up Again

The Delta variant is blowing up models for what the private and public sectors would have looked like in September 2021.

Instead of a return back to a fairly normal lifestyle, everything’s all up in the air again.

And who knows how long any of this will last? What if other variants come into play in the future?

To top it all off, vaccination rates have fallen off more than models originally predicted.

So, it’s hard to say when society will get back to the way it was pre-COVID. That could still be years from now.

Fortunately, the internet is making business more than workable in the meantime. At the same time, you still have plenty of challenges to navigate.

Here’s some points to consider amidst all this chaos:

1. COVID-19 Stimulus Funds are Still Available

The PPP and the Restaurant Revitalization Fund no longer have any dollars available.

However, you can still get a loan for as much as $500,000 with 30-year repayment terms and a 3.75% interest rate from the SBA. This loan is still available through the end of the year.

You can also still get as much as $15,000 in grants if you get declined for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan.

Granted, these aren’t large amounts. But, every little bit counts.

You can also possibly get $28,000 per employee for the Employer Retention Tax Credit for 2021.

To qualify, you must show your business was fully or partially shut down in any quarter in 2021 or that your revenues declined by more than 20% in 2021 when compared to the same quarter in 2019.

You may also be able to get the Work Opportunity Tax Credit, which can run up to $9,600 per employee. To qualify, the employee must be released from prison, getting off welfare, or returning to work after 6 months of unemployment.

So, you have options available to help you out.

2. Assume Your Revenue Won’t Grow

Inflation is rising, making it difficult for consumers to purchase the same way they did in the past.

Major disruptions have been happening in supply chains.

We’re not saying your revenue won’t grow. The fact of the matter is that it might grow quite a bit.

However, you’re wisest to approach the coming months as if your revenue won’t grow because that’s the worst-case scenario.

And if you’re ready for a catastrophe, then you’re also prepared for anything short of that (including massive growth).

Consider your payroll, fixed, and discretionary costs. Compare your previous month’s revenues to the month before and the same month last year.

Create a worst-case scenario plan so you’re ready for anything.

Those are the main points to consider. Plan carefully so you come through not just okay, but better than ever before.

3 Back to Business Trends for 2021 and Early 2022

Is it time to get back to normal? Or is it not?

Certainly, society wants to return to the way it was before COVID. But, the new variants of the COVID virus may interfere with that.

So, it’s hard to say exactly what the next 6-12 months will hold. To help you with that, here’s what some experts think will happen:

1. Incredible Innovation Will Continue

In an interview at Forbes, McKinsey’s Kevin Sneader emphasized a timeless business principle first instilled by Plato: necessity is the mother of invention.

Just like the bubonic plague struck in England in the 1600s and forced students to go home, so COVID has done the same.

But it was that scenario that caused Isacc Newton to observe an apple falling from a tree and discover the theory of gravity.

Today, the number of US patents has actually doubled versus 2019. In the most innovative country in the world, innovation is skyrocketing!

And, according to Snead, “[W]e have seen roughly ten years of innovation in three months.”

2. The Fourth Industrial Revolution Accelerates

In a separate article at McKinsey, they mention that execs found they moved 20-25 times faster on business processes such as supply chain redundancy, data security, and implementation of more advanced technologies.

In 2020, US productivity increased 10.6% in the second quarter and another 4.6% in the third quarter.

That’s the largest 6-month gain since 1965, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

How much this will continue to drive productivity through the roof and improve the quality of life for millions remains to be seen.

But it’s clearly a trend you can’t ignore.

3. Social Media Engagement Will Become More of a Priority

If it wasn’t already, social media will become a huge driver of business growth even moreso, says strategic business speaker Bernard Marr in an article at Forbes.

Because of COVID, many companies needed to find new ways to engage with their customers. And social media became one of the obvious ways to do so.

But, the key has been having a more authentic, personal experience than one driven by an expert.

For example, you might give a look behind the scenes at how you minimize the amount of contact your product comes into with employees.

That builds a lot of confidence in your customers. And it helps you sell more.

Consumers want something more like that, rather than what appears to be a staged commercial.

Of course, you have more to watch than this. But these are definitely some of the key trends coming into play.

Which will you focus on?