Many businesses don’t keep up with the times. They fall behind their competition quickly and then get stuck there forever. Here’s how to stay on top of the every-changing technological times.
Make Your Business Mobile And Flexible
Most businesses today have some element of mobility. Whether it’s a mobile site for customers or remote access tools for employees and the owner. If you haven’t implemented this kind of functionality, you’re already behind your competition.
You need to hire IT services companies that can bring you up to speed, and fast. Companies that can do business from anywhere are able to provide customers with unparalleled flexibility. Imagine being able to offer your products, and full access to your business’ core infrastructure, and services, at a trade show or anywhere else outside of your office.
Constantly Work On Customer Service
This is an area that almost every business needs to spend more time on. Most customer service departments are tasked with getting customers off the phone as quickly as possible. “Turnover” is seen as a good thing.
But, this sales-focused mentality isn’t helpful in a customer service job. Solving customer service problems is the goal, not turnover. It’s hard, because customer service is a low-profit activity in a company.
So, many managers work to minimize those costs. Result? The customer service experience suffers. It’s as though profits get in the way of good service. But, it doesn’t have to be that way. Some companies, like Amazon, have excellent customer service, and their training programs highlight the benefit of such programs. Namely, that they increase customer retention and repeat business.
If your customers are unlikely to ever do business with you again, then the need for customer service is low. But, if your business thrives on repeat business, as most do, then you need to spend your time cultivating your customer service department.
One way to start focusing more on customer service is to integrate sales into customer service, which can reduce the overhead of the department. The risk with this approach is that salesmen might be more motivated to sell than solve problems.
It has to be baked into the culture of the company that service rises above sales. If you service your customer, the sale will follow. Not all companies will pull this off. In fact, most don’t. But, for those that do, they win the admiration of their customers, and the profits always follow.
Stay On Top Of Market Trends
Stay on top of the market trends using RSS and other alerts. You could also use social media, which gives you insights into what your competitors are doing online to engage your target market.
Topsy is a free social media analytics tool that helps you search for, and discover, trends in your market. You can search through tweets, for example, and see who the biggest influencers are, what the marketplace is talking about right now, and more.
Focus on photos, links, videos, or specifically on influencers. Influencers tend to stay on top of market trends, so, if you’re not a thought-leader yourself, you can follow others who are.
If you’re not sure what to search for, or follow, use the “everything” search function to search all categories. This lets you comb through almost the entire web for trending topics.
Stay Up To Date On Your Industry
Stay up to date with your industry through RSS. If you get your industry news online, it’s easier to use RSS to stay updated. Use an RSS reader to capture and organize the news, and condense everything into usable “bite-sized” bits of information.
Digg Reader can help you do this, and it’s free.
Another way to stay up-to-date in your industry is to subscribe to trade publications. All you need area handful of publications and you’ll capture a wide cross-section of news in your industry. You will also capture most of the good ideas floating around.
Interact With Customers
This sounds almost too simple. But, talking with your customers can help you keep tabs on their interests without spending a lot of money on marketing research. It doesn’t have to be a phone call either. Most companies these days are using social media to keep their finger on the pulse of their client base.
Interacting through social media gives you important insights into your clients, like the types of things they “like” online. It also gives you direct access to them in a cost-effective manner – something that has traditionally been impossible.