Successful, strategic business owners know they have to make work hours count to serve their customers well and turn a profit. The right routines need to be in place so you and your employees can concentrate on essential tasks. Then, productivity increases - and so does the satisfaction of your workers and customers.
Fortunately, there are plenty of tools to assist you in both repetitive tasks and high-leverage activities. Once you have them in place, your efficiency will increase and your stress level will decrease. Here's a rundown of some of the best tools to streamline the operations of your business.
Satisfied customers are the lifeblood of your company. The first contact must be a positive one. The warmth, sincerity, and empathy of a voice on the phone can make the difference between a great relationship and an alienated one. Yes, many customers use email and contact forms to get in touch, but there's nothing like hearing a human voice. 24/7 phone availability is a plus, but it's rare. You might be considering alternatives to hiring an in-house receptionist; many business owners are. Wondering where to start? Do a search using terms such as answering service to check out some great options.
If you want to attract motivated brand ambassadors and drive authentic engagement, social media is the place to do it. The power of social media to build community and loyalty is ever-growing. Whether it's Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, or TikTok, a majority of your current and prospective customers are active on these platforms. Find out their favorite ones, and build a presence there that's consistent and compelling.
Coordinating social media is also time-consuming. Tools for social media have become much more sophisticated and personalized in recent years. If you sign up for an account with a company like Hootsuite or Buffer, you can easily optimize and schedule your posts and then get back to scaling your business.
You've got great SEO and more people are finding your website at all hours. That's a good sign that your reputation and influence are growing. But what if a customer has a quick question, doesn't want to call, and it's 2 AM? Live chat is a good solution; a personalized, pleasurable way to communicate. Excellent customer service via chat will help you build that "like, know, and trust" factor. Companies such as voicenation offer options for live chat to meet the specific needs of your enterprise. Consider it an investment in the long-term growth of your business.
The right CRM (customer relationship management) software can make a massive difference in the effectiveness and efficiency of your business. CRMs are evolving quickly in their sophistication and user-friendliness, enabling you to manage all of your customer interactions using one platform. When selecting CRM software, keep in mind the size and type of business you have. Take a look at your high-level competition to see what they use, and try out a few different options on a trial basis.
It's important that you and your employees have long stretches of distraction-free time to do your most essential work. It's just as important that there's a spirit of constructive communication and collaboration. Collaboration software solves the problem of siloing by providing attractive, stimulating ways for everyone to communicate. Slack is the best-known channel-based messaging platform, but there are also other strong alternatives.
Accounting is a key aspect of your business and can monopolize your time and efforts. Surprisingly, many companies still use paper-based methods for accounting. While this method is familiar to older workers and has its advantages, it will inevitably slow your efforts at growth. Up-to-date online and mobile-based payment methods are easy to access, and most offer digital tools like online invoicing, expense reporting, and even tax filing. It's a good idea to find one that integrates easily with Quicken to make the accounting process seamless.
In the course of a day, you'll receive a lot of emails. Some of it will be spam, some of it will be routine, and some of it will be vitally important. You have to manage it all; it takes time and discernment. Use the power of your email client to sort emails efficiently, or look into a third-party app for additional help. Scheduling capability is also a plus.
Email marketing is a powerful tool for building and sustaining customer relationships. Customers, potential customers, employees, and other stakeholders benefit from receiving relevant, personalized information and support. Consider a free service like MailerLite or MailChimp in the beginning. You can always graduate to a full-featured service as you grow.
Streamlining your business operations requires leveraging a few tools to make a big impact. Consider these options as you strategize.