As a small business grows, customer experience can begin to decline as demand increases. Instead of hiring more employees, however, it’s much more efficient to make better use of available technology. Want to know how? Here are five easy ways your small business can use technology to your advantage.
1. Hire an IT company
This article explains ways in which adapting ever-more advanced technological tools can help small businesses – however, it can be a lot to keep up with, especially as new innovations and methods materialize faster every day. Therefore, the first step any small businesses can do is employ the services of an IT provider to better take advantage of their resources and help engage them more thoroughly with technology.
IT providers are experts in their field, spending all their time and effort on keeping up-to-date with the latest that technology has to offer. This means when a small business outsources IT support, its employees don’t have to waste time understanding complex concepts and options. Instead, trusting an outside provider allows the company to have quick yet informed professional insights on the matter to make the best decisions. The IT provider can even explain technological concepts to employees in a way that’s more understandable and relatable.
When outsourced, IT providers offer a variety of services to their clients depending on their needs. For example, IT support with Computers in the City includes unlimited remote support from a helpdesk, security defenses, advice on solving business problems with technology, relocations, cloud service set-up and maintenance, data backup, building and managing a network infrastructure, and telephony services. The provider therefore supplies a clearly comprehensive package for aiding its clients with not only their technological needs, but with using technology to improve their businesses.
2. Streamline Cash Flow
Businesses often invest significant time and money into book-keeping. On average, small businesses spend about 20 hours a week on tasks like tracking invoices, payroll, purchasing, etc. A more productive use of this time could go towards tasks which would better enhance the businesses instead, like driving their marketing, training their employees, and developing more effective customer service. Using technology to speed up and improve these tasks would therefore help businesses become much more successful, especially over the long-term.
First, accounting software can automate certain tedious processes, and also saves businesses from needing staff who understand technical accounting jargon. The software can generate reports, process credit card transactions, reimbursements, handle currency changes, scheduling, employee management, etc. Additionally, checkout financing allows consumers to “buy now, pay later.” Businesses can also get paid more quickly and seamlessly with the use of invoicing technologies. They can customize and automate the process, with options like recurring billing, trial periods, and late fees.
3. Use the Cloud
Cloud computing and data storage systems have revolutionized the functionality of businesses and the ways they can optimize their usage of technology. As with hiring an IT provider, outsourcing data management tools and storage increases business’ efficiency and allows them to stay ahead of the game. Cloud providers utilize a pool of resources to offer the best and most current software to businesses that would otherwise not have the resources to afford them. The Cloud also allows for remote work and encourages collaboration amongst colleagues, capitalizing on employee’s efforts and time.
Small businesses don’t have to invest time building tools or money buying hardware and software to reap the benefits that cloud providers can supply. Instead, they’re ready-made and ready-to-use. Additionally, the Cloud offers types of storage or services as “building blocks,” meaning that businesses do not have to risk or commit much to them. They can simply add removewhatever storage or applications they need based on changes occurring within their companies. This allows for faster company growth and a means to stay up-to-date with the best technology has to offer with minimal effort.
4. Utilize the Internet of Things (IoT)
The Internet of Things demonstrates the interesting space in which technology begins interacting more with the world around us, and with itself. It’s reshaping businesses as well. For example, with manufacturing processes, sensors can regulate machines and inventory tracking systems that use product chips. It’s improved worker collaboration and their ability to work remotely with special gadgets like interactive whiteboards. It also allows for streamlining certain every-day processes that previously took employees time and effort, such as scheduling or ordering office supplies.
Additionally, the Internet of Things affects data analytics. Certain devices can track an immense amount of data instantaneously and efficiently. In turn, this data can be fed to cloud computing systems which can deduce meaning from it. Free assistants like Siri or Alexa aren’t just fun to play around with, but can play a similar role to a human personal assistant, accomplishing tasks like adjusting schedules, conducting research, sending emails, etc. Further, these systems are linked to other systems like task management systems, calendars, and apps on mobile devices so busy workers can fully focus on other important tasks.
5. Improve Customer Communication and Experience
Certain technological tools allow businesses to get more feedback from their consumers in more nuanced and effective ways. For example, MailChimp and HubSpot have streamlined communication with multiple customers through various mediums like email and texting. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools are highly effective at analyzing trends in consumer behavior, giving businesses a better clue on what they are doing right and which direction to take their business in. They can get a snapshot glance of their consumers to better understand their needs or expand their target audience.
Technology can also help make processes more convenient for consumers. This in turn improves consumer uptake and satisfaction plus increases business flow. For example, the use of eSignature applications can allow consumers to quickly review documents and send them back with a few clicks, rather than printing, scanning, and sending them back. Other tools can track customer support and handle inquiries, directing customers to the best employees that can resolve them. Some technological innovations can tailor the customer experience based on the customers themselves, creating a personalized experience to customer interactions.
Re-Focusing the Business
In summary, technology improves the efficiency of employees and small businesses. The general goal of any business is to maximize returns on any investment or resource. The new tools and gadgets, the Cloud, outside IT providers, cashflow services, and the ability to have better interactions with consumers all contribute to more opportunities for businesses to get the most out of what these technologies bring to the table. Often, taking advantage of these different technologies allows a shift in focus from tedious tasks or building extra skill-sets to the meat of the business and its goals. By not needing have in-depth knowledge on accounting or software development and data analytics, the business can attend to the actual services it provides and use information gained to know how to grow even bigger without loss of efficiency nor customer satisfaction.