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6 Business Functions You Can Improve with Technology

By: SmallBizClub

 

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Your business may be small in size and financial resources, but there are many cost-effective technology tools you can leverage to streamline operations and reduce financial and “process” waste. Here are six essential business functions that all small businesses can optimize with a little help from technology.

 
1. Personal organization and note-taking. Ditch the sticky notes and paper to-do lists in exchange for organizational apps you can access through a smartphone, tablet or desktop computer to capture and organize the bits and pieces of information you gather, discover and find inspiration from throughout the day—and easily retrieve them later with a simple keyword search. Because many of these tools include the ability to take and capture handwritten notes electronically, retain interesting snippets from the Web for later reading, and even act as a voice recording system that translates words into a text-based message, you can keep your focus on business, regardless of your location.
 
2. Collaboration and project management. If your business is currently housing documents that multiple members of a team access in a shared drive, streamline project management to expedite the process of collecting feedback and making changes with a cloud-based collaborative project management tool. These tools make it simple for team members to stay engaged in a project, regardless of their location—even from a mobile device.
 
3. Accessible customer support. You don’t have to equip a full call center to give great customer service in real time. With live chat tools that integrate into your website, you can present customers with the pop-up customer service box they’ve grown accustomed to using when interacting with larger corporations, while also allowing them to send an email with their question when you’re not available to staff the live chat functionality.
 
4. Responsive social media management. Social media can be a low-cost marketing tool, but to deliver real impact, it must be managed as a two-way communication vehicle. When users post an issue or question related to your business policies, products or service on social media, respond in a timely manner—this establishes the “conversation” that leads to engagement. One study conducted by The Social Habit revealed that 42 percent of customers who contact a company on social media expect a response within an hour. By utilizing social media technology that streamlines your activity across a variety of channels, you can “preschedule” social media updates, monitor the analytics behind their impact and receive an instant notification when someone contacts you on social media, so you can respond quickly.
 
5. Optimized lead generation and retention. The time and energy investments you make into acquiring and retaining customers directly impacts your bottom line. With the help of lead generation and customer relationship management tools, you can better understand how to serve your customers and prospects at the appropriate time in the sales cycle to maximize your sales and marketing efforts. Some of today’s technologies have the ability to track and notify you of key sales-related events, including when your target audience signs up for product demos, so you can optimize lead generation and identify which customers appear likely to switch loyalties, based on the real-time information they seek from your competitors.
 
6. Time management for email. According to recent report by technology firm The Radicati Group, email is the primary form of communication the business world, which accounts for more than 100 billion emails transmitted each day. Simplify the amount of time you spend responding to emails with technology tools that search previous emails based on a keyword, and allow you to cut and paste similar emails to reduce typing redundancy. Some even autocorrect typos in different languages and convert currency references so prices are always appropriate to the recipient.
 
Additional manpower in the form of technology tools can optimize the way you run critical business functions, and reduce the amount of time you need to manage them. By leveraging the many technology options that now exist for small business owners, you can establish a solid foundation for your business to support operations and continued growth, no matter the size of your budget or team.
 
Author: Kristen Gramigna is Chief Marketing Officer for BluePay, a credit card processing firm, and also serves on its Board of Directors. She has more than 15 years experience in the bankcard industry in direct sales, sales management and marketing.
 
Published: October 2, 2014
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