AJ Agrawal is the Founder of Verma Media, a leading growth agency in San Francisco that focuses on partnering with disruptive technologies. AJ Agrawal is the Founder of Verma Media, a leading growth agency in San Francisco that focuses on partnering with disruptive technologies. In addition to being a geeky marketer, AJ is a runner and surfer. While attending the University of San Diego, he ran division 1 cross country and track and field.
Technology is continuously advancing, so many business owners find themselves frustrated trying to keep up. Their customers are growing annoyed, too: as consumers, they have expectations of the establishments they purchase from, and those expectations include convenience and accessibility. If you are a business owner sporting outdated tools, you are losing an opportunity to connect with customers.
Technology does not have to drain your bank account, though. As Ramon Ray says in his book Technology Resources for Growing Businesses:
“Most of the time it’s not technology first and foremost that a business needs to improve. It’s a business process. For example: if sales are down, it’s not that you necessarily need a CRM solution or a better-designed website… Once the CORE of the plan to boost your sales is in order, you can then consider what technology to implement.”
Think of technology as an investment, not a necessary evil to entice customers or a band-aid for broken operations. It’s meant to make your life easier, so put some careful thought into what your business needs. Here are a few practices and resources for your consideration.
Even if you are a brick-and-mortar store, it helps to be mobile-friendly. Cisco estimates that 2018 will see 34.8 billion devices in use, and 2020 will reach 50 billion. Marketing company Nectafy also notes that 88 percent of consumers who search for local businesses with a phone contact or visit what they find within 24 hours. People love to access the internet on their more portable devices, but optimizing yourself for mobile is different than doing so for desktop searches.
Make sure mobile browsers view a special version of your website on their phones different than what they would see on their computers. Consider developing a mobile app offering features and privileges to users that streamlines the process of doing business with you. Most companies would be wise to create a seamless customer experience across all devices, and Mainstreet establishments should leverage local SEO.
Invest in cybersecurity
If you are keeping track of customers’ data, it is imperative to protect everything accordingly. Dave Wagner from ZixCorp mentions that the WannaCry worm attack in 2017 was devastating for hospitals and healthcare providers. To prevent hacks and data leaks, take all necessary precautions to secure your systems tightly. Wagner suggests embracing the Cloud (which is budget-friendly) and phasing out obsolete systems that are not designed with secure infrastructures.
You have almost definitely heard of Customer Relationship Management software, but not every business takes advantage of it to its fullest. CRM resources enable users to send emails, make calls, generate reports, maintain calendars, schedule appointments, write notes, and store all of your information and analytics regarding customers in one place.
CRM systems help you streamline your operations. Freshworks specifies that when looking for the right provider, essential features to look for include lead management, pipeline management, a built-in phone, automation capabilities, and more. Instead of spending time performing tedious work subject to human error, CRM is a technological solution that enables you to keep track of everything you need to while freeing up the time to focus on other aspects of your business.
Cryptocurrencies are not exactly mainstream yet, but you have undoubtedly heard words like “bitcoin” and “blockchain” floating around the internet. Bitcoin is arguably the most famous variety of digital coin, so even though traditional consumers are not paying with it, cryptocurrency is here to stay—so you can put yourself ahead of the game and accept bitcoin payments from customers who do use it.
Why? Not only will you reach customers that are looking for ways to spend their money and coming up short, the support system behind bitcoin—blockchain technology—is a public ledger that records every transaction made over its network. It’s a secure and transparent way to accept payments without the need for third-party verifiers that credit card processors use. If you are interested in doing so, you can look to PSPs like Bitpay, Bitcoinpay, and Coinify.
Include chat features
Customer service is largely online now, so you should make it as accessible as possible. When visitors first land on your website, it’s nice knowing that all they have to do to reach a company representative is to type into a little chat box in the corner (as long as it doesn’t pop up obnoxiously). Simplestrat mentions that there are resources to integrate such a feature for a small monthly fee if not outright free. If you do not want a live chat option, there are also AI “chatbot” versions that customers might feel comfortable interacting with.
Technology is not a fix-all solution, but the right strategies can vastly improve your life and operations. What technological investments will you make in your business?
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