From communication to collaboration to customer service and beyond, technology can help power your business growth, profitability, and longevity. In the article below we’ve outlined 22 proven technology tips to give your business an edge over its competitors.
Technology tip #1 – Empower your people with VoIP
Businesses that have entered growth mode might find it necessary to update their phone system. VoIP offers many advantages and sophisticated features for small businesses, such as automated attendants, the ability to turn mobile devices or desktop computers into “phones” and integration with business computing systems so voicemails can be forwarded from VoIP phones directly to email–all of which are typically offered at a lower cost than comparable landline setups.
Technology tip #2 – Streamline communications with videoconferencing
With the pandemic forcing many out of the office, video conference solutions became a household name. What we’ve seen is that the benefits extend far beyond pandemic-related remote work. These providers offer various features including toll-free numbers for those joining by phone and video conferences that can be combined with document sharing or real-time collaboration. Tools like Microsoft Teams are already included in your Office 365 subscription and integrate with the rest of the Office suite.
Technology tip #3 – Use social media for customer surveys
Researching what your customers want can help grow your company. You may not always be able to glean the best information by simply asking them, but there are other avenues that should yield good results.
For example, if your business has a Facebook or LinkedIn account you use for promotional purposes, try conducting informal surveys on those sites with questions that solicit responses in short bursts of time-sensitive and timely content.
Instead of asking simple yes/no or multiple-choice questions, ask your customers about their preferences. This will help you understand exactly what they are looking for and provide them with products and services to match!
Technology tip #5 – Streamline customer support with helpdesk solutions
Helpdesk solutions have been a go-to for SMBs and enterprise shops alike. It’s no surprise that these tools are now going live, integrating with self-service channels like FAQs or video demos to provide instant answers while also providing analytics like the speed of response times from customer service staff. With help desk software, you can answer those pesky questions before they even come in so your customers feel better supported.
Unique features like troubleshooting how-tos can empower customers to learn how to solve their own issues step-by-step, meaning you don’t have to keep customers waiting on hold for hours or take valuable time away from your employees following up on more complex customer service requests.
Technology tip #6 – Use a booking tool to schedule customer appointments
A quick online appointment booking system will save your business time and money by enabling customers to book their own appointments without the inconvenience of “email tag”. Plus, solutions like Microsoft Bookings are already included in Office 365 and can send automated reminders that help you reduce no-shows.
Technology tip #7 – Take your data storage to the cloud
Cloud-based file storage is a way to share files across your team, no matter their location. This is especially useful when you have people working remotely and need them to access information from home or on the go. You can rest easy knowing that you’re backed up in case anything happens to locally stored files. It also allows for faster collaboration because everyone has instant access to everything they need at any time of day. You can even set different levels of access such as who can edit a file or who can read-only. Your Microsoft 365 subscription already comes with access to OneDrive so all it takes is the initiative to move to the cloud to see these benefits.
Technology tip #8 – Use virtual chat tools to streamline collaboration
Online chat software is an easy way to hold conversations with employees and other colleagues. Message pop-ups are instant alerts, so you don’t have to wait for people to check their email in order to receive a response. This option offers the best of both worlds: it’s faster and more informal than emails but more professional than sending a text message from your phone. Plus, you can send voice messages, host video calls, and share files.
Chat apps are a great way to keep in touch with your team and co-workers. Chat windows also have an archive option so if there’s something important for later reference it will always be available on demand. Microsoft Teams comes built into the Microsoft Office 365 suite so you can start using it right away with your subscription.
Technology tip #9 – Use performance management software to streamline employee advancement
As your business grows, conducting performance reviews can become a time-consuming task. Using employee review software allows you to maintain a streamlined, organized, and largely automated review program. It gives you all the benefits of monitoring the performance/of your entire staff while yet requires far fewer resources than a manual program. Performance management software can be used by teams to set goals and rate each other’s performance, or it may have features that allow for 360-degree feedback to rate management.
Technology tip #10 – Reduce or eliminate on-premise hardware
In the past, all small businesses had to maintain their own servers. They needed this for email and storing data on the network. But today all of that can be done in the cloud with infrastructure as a service (IaaS). You rent what you need from a provider, pay-as-you-go, and don’t have to install expensive hardware anymore. Plus, you’re always running the most up-to-date, secure, and functional tools on the market.
Technology tip #11 – Use tablets as displays or presentation platforms
Does your business rely on visuals to help delight clients? If you are an architect, construction firm, interior designer, or other entrepreneurs whose customers need to see your work before it gets approved then consider a tablet to present in the field.
Tablets are also a great tool for entrepreneurs who want to show their sales presentations or slide decks on the go. They can be easily carried with you wherever you go and have a sleek design that helps instill confidence in prospective customers.
Technology tip #12 – Boost efficiency with headsets
Using a headset can increase your ergonomics and therefore and your team’s efficiency and productivity. To get the most out of this device, look for something business quality; these headsets offer features like noise cancellation technology that help reduce sound in open-plan offices and comfortable wearability so they don’t become burdensome after long periods of time.
Technology tip #13 – Fill forms on tablets versus paper
Mobile form-filling is a cost- and time-saving measure for businesses. Eliminating the need to input information by hand, mobile form applications make it easier than ever before to gather information from customers and reduce errors. Mobile forms can be designed any way you want them; check out apps that offer intuitive interfaces and export data in formats like PDF or Excel.
Plus, when the form is completed it can automatically be stored digitally and uploaded to the cloud for secure storage and easy access to the information in the future!
Technology tip #14 – Establish a “bring-your-own-device” security policy
Many employees end up using their personal smartphones, laptops, or tablets for at least some business purposes. This is especially true when they are on vacation or traveling for work. While it may seem innocent, you can be sure your employees aren’t taking nearly the same cybersecurity precautions with their personal devices as you are with your business machines.
Be sure to document a clear policy for any devices being used to access your company networks and data. Consult an expert on how this policy should be drafted based on the unique requirements of your staff and your business.
Technology tip #15 – Build out customer loyalty programs to increase the customer lifetime value
Tech-savvy companies are updating their loyalty programs to keep up with the digital age. Newer technologies allow for and downloadable smartphone apps that are fun and easy to use, not only rewarding customers who purchase frequently from your business but also capturing data about customer spending habits.
Technology tip #16 – Let the experts handle your IT
Handing off the complex responsibilities of your IT program to experts allows you to focus on your core competencies and grow faster without being bogged down by costly mistakes in technology and resources. The IT industry is constantly changing and you need to make sure that your business has the right tech for its needs. The direct support, proactive consulting and strategy, and next-level security like that provided at Integris is an invaluable resource to any modern small business.
Technology tip #17 – Use accounting software to keep your finances hyper-organized
If you are still keeping track of your business finances with paper or Excel, it’s time to step up and implement a small-business accounting software. Implementing an online accounting solution not only streamlines today but also helps prepare for tomorrow by providing the necessary tools that will help grow your business. Cloud-based solutions even integrate seamlessly into any bank account so you can see exactly where money is being spent in real-time while managing bills, generating invoices, and more without confusion.
Making a decision about your company’s finances is simplified with accounting software. You can generate reports such as cash flow and balance sheets in just seconds instead of days or weeks! This way, if there are any potential problems on the horizon that could negatively impact your business (such as approaching debt limits), you will know much sooner so measures may be taken quickly rather than waiting until it’s too late for preventative action.
Technology tip #18 – Manage your fleet using digital fleet tracking software
Fleet management software provides a more comprehensive look into your company’s fleet. It not only monitors vehicle use but also employees’ whereabouts and travel routes to prevent fraudulent activity or misuse of resources. You’ll be able to communicate with drivers in real-time through an app installed on their smartphone as well as share information about weather conditions or traffic issues.
Fleet management technology significantly improves driver safety by giving turn-by-turn directions, so drivers don’t have to fiddle with their smartphones or take their eyes off the road. These advanced systems also collect valuable data that saves your business money and can show you an individual driver’s average speed, driving habits, and fuel usage; it alerts you when vehicles need maintenance as well! Newer fleet management solutions offer even more features like incorporating employee time tracking for a better understanding of labor costs.
Technology tip #19 – Inventory management made easy with software
Inventory management tools help you take inventory without all the fuss. This software is useful for tracking costs, comparing revenue to the annual average cost per item, and estimating when items should be replenished so that you never run out.
Inventory software can also provide data about what products are most profitable when to put unsold items on clearance, and when is an opportune time to buy less-popular items that may have been overpriced in the past. With this type of management system, tracking products becomes seamless and you have greater security against product loss or theft.
Technology tip #20 – Use Google ads to drive new business
Google ads are a fast and effective way to drive more visitors to your website and convert them into leads and sales. Google ads allow you to drive highly targeted traffic to your website based on the terms they search for. While it can be competitive and expensive, it’s also one of the most impactful ways to grow when executed correctly.
While you may also be creating flyers or buying radio time, Google advertising can work synergistically and dramatically improve the performance of those campaigns. It’s time to join the modern marketing age and start using a highly effective channel like pay-per-click ads to bring in new business.
Technology tip #21 – Provide customer support on social media
One of the most overlooked aspects of customer service is how much it has changed in recent years to harness the power of social media. More and more, consumers are using platforms like Facebook and Instagram to contact companies for information and assistance. Business owners now have the opportunity to make an immediate connection with customers, but also must do so quickly and effectively.
When providing customer service via social media, assign someone on your team to monitor potential issues that could arise. Make sure they have the necessary tools to be notified instantly when a message comes in and respond using their real name instead of a generic handle such as “@yourcompany.” Even if one rep takes a complex question offline for resolution make sure they post it publicly with an answer in order to show responsiveness from your business.
Technology tip #22 – Develop a business continuity plan
As human beings, we tend to get complacent and assume that because major problems/disasters haven’t happened, they won’t happen. This is especially true with most SMBs. Cybercrime, catastrophic hardware failure, network outages, or even natural disasters might not present themselves on a regular basis, but planning for them is critically important for any business that wants to stay in the game for the long run.
Next steps – Consult with a trusted expert
There are a great many ways you can use technology to streamline your operations and secure the longevity of your business. That said, the needs of each business are unique and the path to success is not one-size-fits-all.
For that reason, we highly recommend working with a professional to evaluate the specific technology needs of your business and how to implement them most effectively. Chat with one of our experts today!