Being a business owner or leader means you’re constantly learning. Researching new marketing strategies, emerging trends in your industry, and exciting new products is sure to be a continual part of your weekly grind.
But are you also keeping up with similar changes in technology? If not, you could be missing out on tools that can make your life easier and your business stronger. Here are six ways new technology can help your business grow.
Here are six ways new technology can help your business grow
Extend Your Visibility and Build Your Customer Base
Changing technologies help you reach more potential customers than ever before, around the clock. Social media platforms, mobile marketing, various types of content marketing, and much more increase the visibility of your business far beyond your local community—often on a reasonable budget.
Improve Your Interactions with—and Understanding of—Your Customers
According to Forrester’s Cliff Condon in “2016: CIOs And CMOs Must Rally To Lead Customer-Obsessed Change Now,” The “Age of the Customer” is here. Customers are more informed, savvy, demanding—and powerful—than ever before. Businesses need to adopt a customer-centric, even customer-obsessed, model to win over and keep the new “power” customer.
Happily, technology provides a wealth of solutions for putting customers at the center of everything you do. Sophisticated customer relationship management (CRM) tools mean that your business can track customer data to better understand their behaviors and needs. With this knowledge, you can tailor your communications to individual customer’s actual shopping behavior, or make more widespread changes to accommodate emerging patterns across your customer base. Being more informed and proactive about customers’ wants equals more satisfied customers, which in turn equals increased sales and customer loyalty.
Social media lets you engage with customers instantly, across seemingly endless channels. Likewise, with mobile loyalty programs and related apps, you can offer personalized, curated product recommendations and discounts. Location-based services in these apps even allow you to send a relevant coupon right when a customer enters your store.
Offer New Ways to Sell
Related to The Age of the Customer, Accenture’s 2015 “Business Technology Trends Report” identifies “The Internet of Me” as a game-changer for savvy businesses. Today’s customers are extremely connected, and expect the companies they patronize to be connected, too. More and more, customers expect highly personalized experiences with businesses and brands. “As everyday objects are going online, so too are experiences—creating an abundance of digital channels that reach deep into every aspect of individuals’ lives. Forward-thinking businesses are changing the ways they build new applications, products, and services,” explains the report.
New, more personal ways to reach customers in turn offer innovative ways to sell to them. Mobile ordering, contactless payment options and loyalty programs, “smart” objects of all kinds, and social selling are just a few of the newest means of connecting with and selling to customers. With these tools, you can create an omnichannel shopping experience for your customers. Many of these technologies—such as social selling and contactless payment—are already accessible to small businesses.
Be More Informed and More Agile
You need to know all the ins and outs of how your company is operating to be able to make important business decisions. Cloud-based accounting such as Xero, Freshbooks, or QuickBooks Online help you keep on top of your finances, in moments, from anywhere.
Integrated sales systems such as Shopify (a combined point-of-sale interface, inventory management tool, and e-commerce platform) similarly make it easy to see sales, whether in your brick-and-mortar location or online, and track inventory.
Increase Productivity and Collaboration
Cloud computing makes it easy to create or back up documents, then access and share them from anywhere. In “4 Technology Solutions Every Growing Business Needs to Consider,” Entrepreneur’s Tor Constantino recommends cutting down on phone costs by using laptop-based softphone software or setting up toll-free calls to your cell phone. And with video conferencing (such as Skype for Business), collaborative documents (like Google Drive), virtual office environments (like Sococo), and related tools, you can work with colleagues around the world.
These technologies make it simple to communicate with your distributed team, business partners, or customers anywhere, with minimal interference, downtime, and costs.
Streamline and Automate Routine Tasks
Invoicing, payroll, accounting, and more can be significantly streamlined or even automated with the use of solutions like Xero, Freshbooks, and QuickBooks Online (mentioned above). Automation reduces costs—and costly mistakes—as well as freeing up more of your time to spend actually running your business.
What You Can Do Right Now
Technology changes so much, so rapidly that it can be hard to know how, or where to start, when integrating innovations into your business. Here are some factors to prioritize for your first steps.
- Customer interaction: Start simple—add a few social media profiles you can consistently maintain, then engage customers by responding to their messages and inviting reviews and customer-generated content.
- Automation: If routine tasks like invoicing and payroll are eating up much of your time, consider automating as many as you can with a cloud-based accounting solution.
- Communication: Could your communication technology use an upgrade? For employees, particularly those who work remotely even part-time, update your audio and video conferencing tools and document collaboration. For your customers, consider moving to a softphone setup.
- Ensure your business has the speed and bandwidth needed to meet the increasing demand for technology solutions. Visit us at CoxBusiness.com for more information.
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