Customer satisfaction and tech: what we can learn from Vietnam’s SMB success post-covid

Many of Vietnam’s small businesses have reported both strong growth and strong usage of
digital technology – factors that make them better placed than many other small businesses across the Asia-Pacific region to manage through the COVID-19 crisis and recover quickly, according to a recent survey by CPA Australia.

While the survey was conducted prior to the global COVID-19 pandemic, CPA Australia’s
Asia-Pacific Small Business Survey 2019-20 found that many of Vietnam’s small businesses
entered the current crisis with healthy finances, with 95 per cent reporting that they grew in 2019, the highest result of the 11 markets surveyed.

Online sales are already an important part of many of Vietnam’s small businesses, with over 60 per cent generating more than 10 per cent of their revenue through online sales in
2019. These businesses are arguably better placed to respond to changes in consumer
behaviour caused by COVID-19.

CPA Australia’s Manager of Business and Investment Policy, Mr Gavan Ord warned that
while the results from the survey were very positive for many small businesses in Vietnam,
past performance is no guarantee of future success, particularly in the current uncertain
environment.

“As with any crisis of this magnitude, small businesses have little margin for error. Prudent
management, focusing on the changing needs of customers and even greater adoption of
technology – rather than good fortune – will be essential to business recovery and ongoing
future success.

“The business you had before this pandemic hit will not be the same as the business you
have after the pandemic abates and economic activity picks up again. Small business
owners face the challenge of adapting their businesses to ‘a new normal’ at a time when
accessing finance may prove difficult, although stimulus measures by the government are
easing that particular challenge.

“The very strong focus of Vietnam’s small business sector on technology is not only helping
them to quickly improve their profitability, it is placing them in a very good position to
capitalise on any business opportunities emerging from COVID-19.
“Vietnam’s small businesses are not only focusing on tried and tested technologies, but they are also by far the most likely to have invested in artificial intelligence in 2019, potentially creating further opportunities for long-term growth,” Ord said.

The top four factors that had a positive influence on Vietnam’s small businesses in 2019
were:
• Technology
• Improved customer satisfaction
• Good staff; and
• Customer loyalty

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“Our survey results continue to show that year after year, through both good times and bad
times such as these, businesses with a focus on their customers, technology and strategy
are much more likely to grow strongly than other businesses.

“While it is wise to focus on cash flow and financial health at this time, businesses should
also be looking to how they can meet the fast-changing needs of customers, especially
through increasing online sales,” Ord said.

CPA Australia has the following suggestions for small business in this difficult period:
• Focus on improving cash flow and your financial health
• Utilise technology and online sales to meet changing consumer behaviour
• Capitalise on your existing pool of loyal customers
• Dedicate any spare time you may have to developing and implementing a recovery plan,
and learning about industry trends and emerging technologies and how they can be
applied to your business
• If you are in a relatively strong financial position, look for opportunities in the recovery
• Seek professional advice.

By CPA Australia

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