New technologies and gadgets used to be cool and expensive, but now they’re convenient, easy to use and affordable. There are so many ways they can help your business that you may be losing money by not taking advantage of them. Of course, there are new products and services all the time, and you don’t want to get invested in a new way of doing things and then be forced to change quickly. Here are some of the new technologies that make it easier for you to operate your small business.
- Cloud-Based Phone System
When you use a cloud-based phone system, your calls, contacts and messages are available any place you have an internet connection. You can also access messages from your email, making it easy to download and share important information quickly. Every user in your company can get an extension, so callers speak directly to the right person the first time. Because the system is online, you won’t be responsible for expensive hardware or software updates. A cloud-based phone system is affordable, and you can set it up in minutes.
- Live Chat
According to a survey by eMarketer, customers who had access to a live chat function were more likely to make purchases from a site that offered live chat (62 percent) and were more likely to make weekly purchases. People think more highly of companies that offer live chat, and customers claim a higher level of satisfaction. Live chat is convenient and easier than trying to make a phone call or to figure out problems without help. Customers can multitask, one of the new favorite ways to work. People with a question can ask at their own convenience, without waiting for an email response that may never come.
- A 24/7 Answering Service
When someone calls your business and you don’t answer your phone, that person hangs up and calls the next business in line. When you don’t take calls, you lose customers. An answering service may seem old-fashioned, but there are still people who prefer to talk to a live human. Answering the phone yourself is impractical, and it’s too expensive to hire someone just to answer your phone every minute of the day. Answering services have come in to fill that need, using trained representatives who can communicate for you from a minimal script if necessary. Every call will be recorded, and you can hire a firm that offers other languages. You can even use an answering service that integrates your calls with your already-existing phone system, such as a cloud-based phone system. Make sure to find a service that understands your type of business.
- Intuitive CRM
You can purchase customer relationship management software, which helps you analyze and keep track of your customer information so you can get insights into what works and what doesn’t, which lets you know where to focus your time and other resources. Intuitive CRM also lets you know when a client opens your email. Customers can be organized by type and area, so you can assign reps and resources accordingly. You can also use CRM to analyze sales forecasts. CRM software can be integrated with your other software, including possibly your answering service, so you can get better information with less work.
- Internal Communication Apps
Apps like Slack let teams within your firm communicate in a designated space using photos, files and other data, using both computers and phones. Slack is a collaboration hub with a searchable history and functions by integrating other kinds of software. It can connect clients and vendors, and users can conduct phone calls and face-to-face calls. There are over 1,000 apps that can be integrated into Slack to make work easier.
- Other Tools
Many other tools that are affordable or free are available for businesses to use. Dropbox offers a significant amount of cloud storage, and WordPress provides a platform from which users can build and maintain blogs. QuickBooks offers great financial management software and can be integrated into other systems so you can keep track of your finances throughout the year. Trello and Basecamp are examples of boards that let you manage projects with ease. Not only that, many of these products have a free trial period so you can see if they work for you.