In the Telstra Business Intelligence report on Thriving in the Digital Age, 58% of employees surveyed agreed they could use a wider range of digital tools to deliver a better experience for their customers. Plus, 67% of small and medium businesses surveyed said they want to improve how they use digital technologies to connect with new customers and deliver a great customer experience.
The pace of change brought about by COVID-19 means it’s never been more essential to know how your business can embrace tech and implement digital solutions. The good news is opportunities exist across all areas of your business, from interacting with customers through marketing and promotions, to customer relationship management, sales, and customer bookings or scheduling. You can digitise your internal operations too, to help with work-life balance and productivity (and ultimately the way you service your customers). Let’s look at how to do it.
Customer-facing digital tools
Up your marketing game by embracing ads and organic content on social media. According to the Telstra Business Intelligence report on Digital Marketing, 48% of consumers put social media in their top 5 ways to find a business. To reach more people, consider integrating both organic and paid social media on apps such as Instagram and Facebook into your overall marketing strategy. If you want to send direct mail, then Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software, such as Salesforce, can help you manage customer data and integrate it with your email software (like Mailchimp, for example). Gestures like a special offer on a customers’ birthdays sent via email can encourage customers to shop with you again – and make them feel valued.
If COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions haven’t propelled you to sell online, consider how you can incorporate eCommerce into your business or offer a service online. An online store doesn’t necessarily need to replace your brick-and-mortar shop – it can complement it, so you can reach new markets and even tap into an international customer base. If you’re not sure how digital tools could help your business deliver its service online, check out these businesses that are winning with video.
“As online sales continue to grow, SMBs should be weighing features, capabilities and total cost of eCommerce platforms.”Jon Stribling, Head of Business Development APAC, Ecwid
Booking and scheduling
Sometimes picking up the phone can be a barrier for customers. According to the Telstra Business Intelligence Customer Experience report, 62% of all consumers said the ability to make online bookings is important or very important, while only 47% of small and medium businesses thought this was the case. From securing an event ticket, to scheduling a massage – there are plenty of reasons customers would want to book with a business online. And it’s not just limited to hospitality and beauty – even mechanics and other trades can use online scheduling tools. Setting up an online booking system doesn’t need to be a head-ache. If you use a website management tool like Squarespace or Wordpress, they have plenty of integrations you can set up yourself.
Customers value a quick response time when they have queries, so things like live chat support on your website or an auto-response message to emails (letting customers know when they can expect to hear back from you) can help manage expectations. For example: on Facebook Messenger there are tools to automate conversations so your customers can receive information without you needing to be online. In the Customer Experience report, Melinda Petrunoff, the Director of Small and Medium Business (Australia & New Zealand) at Facebook, suggests setting up an ‘away message’ when you receive a message out-of-hours. “It’s not realistic to be glued to your screen, so there are tools you can use to make things easy.”
Internal digital tools
Your team may be working remotely or with flexible hours, so having digital tools for collaboration when you can’t be in a room together can help keep your business productive and efficient. There are plenty of apps available on the Telstra Apps Marketplace that can help with collaboration, like Microsoft Teams and Microsoft OneDrive.
Finances and accounting
Managing finances is often a time-consuming area for businesses, but accounting software like MYOB can help you streamline it. Adopting this type of software to take on some of the heavy lifting in your business can free up your time to focus on higher-value work.
CRM software can be used for customer-facing purposes (that we touched on above), but it can also help you manage data (like sales and returns) to help you make informed business decisions – ultimately to deliver the best experience to your customers.
To get started with the right digital tools for your business, consider reviewing the major customer-facing areas of your workflow, like marketing, sales and customer support. Take stock of where you or your employees are spending time, particularly on any repetitive tasks. This could help you identify where things could improve – and narrow your search to the tools that already exist. Automating functions will benefit your work-life balance, your productivity and, ultimately, your customers.