Gone are the days when small businesses couldn’t compete with bigger companies. Technological advances have helped to even out the playing field, but there are inherent advantages to being the little guy.
Here are five ways your small business can compete with larger companies, and sometimes come out ahead.
1. Be nimble
Sure, bigger companies have a larger staff and more resources. But that can also add layers of bureaucracy to their infrastructure. The more vice-presidents and managers you have, the longer it usually takes to create, develop, approve and implement change. As a smaller firm, you have fewer internal hurdles to clear when implementing changes. You can also respond to customer queries or complaints faster because there are fewer people in your company who have to meet, discuss and approve how to reply to such client feedback. According to a study by QMS, smaller companies are actually more efficient, productive and cost-effective than large ones.
One tool your SMB can employ to make its collaboration and innovation process even more efficient is social Intranet. It takes the old-school corporate Intranet model (let’s all just list our company events, birthdays and human resource forms on one internal site) and updates it using today’s social networking approach, so employees can truly contribute creative ideas and content (including video, Web links and photos) from anywhere in real time.
2. Get personal
What sets many SMBs apart from large companies is their ability to build personal relationships with customers and suppliers. If you know many of those players by name and have an ongoing relationship with them, nurture it. You can do it in little ways: mention them in your company’s blog, write a client case involving them and post it on your Web site, ask them to take part in a roundtable on improving customer service and products at your firm. You can even publicly acknowledge their personal or corporate milestones (anniversaries, contract wins, awards, etc.) on social media. There’s evidence that when it comes to forging business and sales with other SMBs, personal contacts still make a difference.
3. Be social
Social media and blogs have given small businesses the opportunity to market themselves to a massive audience of potential clients, and it seems to be working. Last year’s Social Media Marketing Industry Report found that SMBs benefit more than bigger firms from using social media when it comes to making sales, generating leads and partnerships, increasing site traffic, subscriptions and overall marketplace exposure, and cutting marketing costs. It’s not always easy to manage a social media strategy when you’re a SMB but there are technology tools to use and organizational steps to take so it’s a little easier these days.
4. Tell your own story
Break out of the traditional marketing and publicity box of simply issuing a press release that shills your latest product and recounts why it’s so amazing. Those formulaic quotes don’t sound real, and thousands of other companies are doing the same thing every day. But only you can tell the unique story of your business: how you started and grew your business as well as all the personal bumps you encountered along the way. A 2010 study by the University of Chicago found that products marketed using “brand biographies” highlighting passionate entrepreneurs overcoming the odds were chosen 71 per cent of the time over products that weren’t promoted that way. Just think of all the category killers whose branding is strengthened by their leaders’ back stories. There’s a reason The Social Network drew in millions of moviegoers with the story of Mark Zuckerberg. It’s the same reason they’re making a biopic about Apple’s Steve Jobs as we speak. People love to hear personal stories.
5. Use tech
Okay, we’ve already mentioned a few ways your SMB can harness technology to compete with the big guys. And there are many online tools out there that can help small businesses run more efficiently and effectively. But since it’s impossible to ignore the big players, why not take advantage of the fact that most of them are now launching their own services targeted to SMBs? Corporate giants like IBM, Rogers Communications, Dell Inc. and Research In Motion Ltd. are all vying for your SMB budget dollars with products and services that, ironically, might just help you compete with companies as big as them. Whether it’s cloud storage or Web marketing, they’ve all got something designed (and priced) just for companies your size.
Times have changed and unlike the earlier times when a small-scale entrepreneur was able to build an empire single-handedly. In today’s business scenario, the environment has become so complex and competitive, that it is not easy to achieve success on your own.
The business environment is in a continuous state of turmoil, and achievement of tasks depends more and more on the outputs of teams rather than efforts of a single person and there the term Team comes in existence.
What is Team?
A team is group of small number of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, performance goals and approach for which they are mutually accountable. ( Definition by Katzenbach and Smith – 1993 ). Different definitions are coined by many people for Team. But the purpose behind forming team remains same to achieve common objective.
There are some important aspects of successful teams as follows.
Aspects of the Team Building
To build an efficient Team, approach has to be dynamic and adaptive in this competitive world. However, there are certain aspects of team-building to be followed by the members in order to achieve the end target.
- Team should be small in number. Small group is able to deliver better results. If team is say fifty people then it is good to divide it into sub-teams as probability of such bigger team to give better output is less if compared to team of 5-10 people whose probability of successfully sorting out their individual, hierarchical and functional differences, and work towards a common goal, and also be accountable for the results.
- To succeed as a team, the team should have appropriate mix of skills and traits. If the team has people with homogeneous skills then it won’t be very effective to accomplish their set goals and objectives. On other hand if team has skills and traits more than what are needed for requirements then it may cause unnecessary disruptions which can affects results. We can explain this aspect by giving example of maintenance team in industry. Such team should consists of different people with different skill sets like mechanical, electrical, civil, information technology. It would become difficult if such team has people with similar skill sets.So there are basically three categories of team skills:
1. Technical abilities or expertise needed for the task
2. Problem-solving and decision-making skills
3. Interpersonal skills
- Team should set their goals on the basis of requirements placed on them by the organization. This helps the team to define their boundaries and scope of their job.
- Team should take common approach to achieve common goal set.
- Team’s mutual accountability is the most important aspect of this approach. Mutual understanding is important in team members to work in coordination with each other to target common objective.
As we already know team is group of people with complementary skills who work together to achieve common goals. So it is important for team members to communicate with each other to and keep learning from each other eventually maximizing their strengths and weaknesses. However there are certain principles of team building.
Principles of Team Building
- Each member’s roles and responsibilities have been written down and explained to them in clear and unambiguous manner.
- Every team member should understand their own responsibility and should be committed towards their work to increase the team’s productivity and work towards the team’s success.
- Team members should collaborate with each other in order to take their tasks forward smoothly.
- Effective Communication becomes essential factor in team building. It is essential for any manager and team members to communicate with each other in freely and openly about nature of work, goals set for team, and methods adopted for accomplishing objectives.
- The manager should be polite, humble and approachable so that team members do not hesitate to approach him with whatever issues they might have. This also helps the manager to bring about coordination among team members.
Along with such principles there are some approaches to team building. There are five approaches that are generally followed.
- Interpersonal approach: Interpersonal approach is most ancient approach among others emerged in 1950 which is based on human psychology. It develops social and personal awareness between the team members. Better understanding of each other’s nature will help to work easily within team. Interpersonal approach enhances bond between teammates which also enhances productivity.
- Role-Definition: This approach is based on roles and norms which exist within team. Defining roles and responsibilities for each person in team, defining expectation from each person enhances coordination between team members which ultimately gives better output while achieving common goal.
- Values: This approach is based on values that team members adopt while executing their roles and responsibilities. It is important that the team members have same values. For effective teamwork and coordination, values given to each should be well justified otherwise it would become difficult for team members to work in team.
- Task based approach: This approach is based on individual’s skills and how he executes tasks assigned to him and make teamwork successful. It is managers’ who should put all the tasks in clear terms. Bigger tasks should be broken down into smaller tasks by manager. Then it becomes individual’s responsibility to contribute in team by working on his tasks to achieve common targets.
- Social Identification: It talks about members’ need to feel part of team. It is important for each member to understand each other’s point of views, should have good communication with each other, standing in crisis for each others, taking unfinished jobs of other in need to achieve common objectives which are set for the team and not for individual. These things help member to come closer with other member of team and to feel being part of Team which enhances effective teamwork. Each team member should have self esteem and respect for each other to have effective co ordination in team. Some common platforms, interests, knowledge sharing platforms can help members to stand for others in need so that team can reach common targets.
Every individual has always been considered as asset of company. So it is important for any organization to take all such individuals together as a team to become a successful organization and team building techniques definitely make it possible.
If starting a photography business were easy, they’d package one free with every digital camera. So Allen Murabayashi, CEO of Photoshelter, shared his tips and advice on starting out in the photography industry in a recent webinar.
Creating a Business
- Thinking of incorporating your business for the tax benefits? It’s probably not the best idea if you’re not generating enough income. If your business is paying more in corporate taxes versus the tax benefits you receive, then it’s time to reconsider.
- Consider becoming a single member LLC (limited liability corporation) which allows common deductions, like home office, insurance, etc. – Good: Provides limitation of liability. So if someone sues you, you lose your business, rather than your house. – Bad: Depending on your jurisdiction, there is a cost.
Do You Really Need all that Gear?
- Purchasing new gear? On average, photographers can spend anywhere from $10 000 to $15 000 on gear every 2 years. This is crazy if you’re not making the income to support it. On top of that, if your income is too low, the tax benefit of your equipment cost is not beneficial to you and your business
- Consider renting your equipment. It’ll save you a ton money!
- Another thing to consider is whether to deduct your equipment in the first year or depreciate it every year. If you deduct all your expenses in the first year of purchase, this can dramatically decrease taxable income. You can also choose to depreciate your equipment over x number of years. But these days, photography equipment gets outdated quickly.
- Avoid putting everything on credit because interest is high. Instead, a small business loan will get you lower interest rates.
- Don’t get gear-happy!
Don’t get caught with dumb expenses!
What is a legitimate expense?
- Legitimate expense: an expense that is ordinary and necessary for the the generation of income of your business
- You should document with a paper receipt just in case. For example, if you’re saving a dinner receipt, be sure to write down who you were with and what you talked about.
- Writing off your home office and mileage expenses can be very tempting, but expense it with care. For example, if your rent is $1,000 a month and you expense $500, you should be able to prove that you use half your place for business only. If you occasionally use the dining room table for meetings, it doesn’t count.
Setting your rates and booking clients
- Don’t charge clients a day rate. Photographers no longer charge an hourly wage. For example, a photographer starting out may take longer for a shoot than a more experienced one. What do you do for the rest of the day? If you’re unlucky, the client might ask you to take more photos.
- Shoot for a set of images. Charge a client for the set of photos, rather than the time it takes to shoot them.
- Separate shoot fee from usage fee. How the client uses your photos should determine the price. If the image goes viral, you should charge more.
Insurance: health, liability, equipment
- Photojournalism is a dangerous business: You are endangering your future by not insuring yourself.
- Many venues require a certificate of insurance for liability reasons. For example, you could be charged for a lighting stand falling and breaking a table if you’re not insured.
- Remember: You are responsible for your equipment. If a light falls on a table or injures a person, you can be sued. Insurance provides protection for lawsuit and reimbursement
Getting an agent/rep
- An agent will take on photographers who they know can help generate revenue, so you must bring clients to the table.
- Agents will NOT provide a “regular flow” of business.
- You must learn to market yourself!
- Assist other photographers, learn by watching.
- Use the National Press Photographers Association’s ‘Cost of Doing Business’ calculator to get a realistic sense of the difficulty of starting your own business.
- Meet with an accountant to create a financial plan with career milestones.
- Control your expenses: rent gear, don’t buy it.
- Charge clients for the rental costs.
- Create a marketing plan and don’t be shy about promoting yourself
Female business owners have a lot going for them. For one, women are starting new businesses one-and-half times faster than men. They are also leaders in using their businesses to give back to the community. Still, there are many unique challenges to running a business and some key pitfalls female business owners, especially, should avoid.
Sales specialist Julie Steelman has some advice on how women can avoid these common mistakes. She is author of a new book, The Effortless Yes: Get the Sales You Want and Make All You’ll Ever Need (Franklin-Green Publishing, 2011), which features a seven-step approach to help sales-averse entrepreneurs to learn a new way of selling.
Steelman shares her solutions to the top five business mistakes women make.
Mistake 1: Running your business impulsively
It’s great to have heart, intuition and creativity. But those don’t necessarily lead to profit and profit growth. If you’re averse to numbers, think of your financial statement as a garden. Your money needs care, watering, weeding, fertilizing and pruning. Don’t avoid looking at your sales numbers or how much you’ve spent. Money is the life force of your business. Tend to it.
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Mistake 2: Setting prices too low
Some female owners set their prices according to what they think their customers will pay — and then resent them for paying too little. Instead, come up with a price that takes into account the percentage you want to make on each sale, how much your costs are, “invisibles” such as the things you do above and beyond the call of duty for customers, and how much your competitors are charging. Consider whether you’ll focus on volume selling or selling less at a higher price. Find a price that feels right to you, one that you can broadcast with 100 percent confidence.
Mistake 3: Avoiding sales and selling
Here’s something many female owners don’t know: Women are natural-born salespeople. Being a masterful salesperson requires many of the traits women possess innately, such as great communication, a strong conscience, and the desire to serve. It’s time to rethink selling, because you can’t run a successful company if you don’t have robust and growing sales. Think of selling as a conversation. Be enthusiastic and genuine. Share stories about how you and others were transformed by using your products and services. Help your customers solve a problem.
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Mistake 4: Underutilizing social media
Do your eyes glaze over when you hear the phrase social media? Change the way you think about it. Think of social media as a way to help others and provide value to your customers and potential customers. If you post blogs, videos and podcasts, that’s fine. But those one-way communiqués don’t start conversations. Instead, host interactive events, chats and conversations that engage your customers and serve their needs. If you’re a social media novice, it’s time to learn how to really take advantage of it and hire someone to help you do it.
Mistake 5: Getting by instead of getting ahead
When you start using some of the smart tools that the big boys of business use, you’ll find all the money you’ll ever need. Female business owners sometimes feel that making payroll and earning a small profit is good enough. You deserve much more, and you can get there by mapping out a plan for this year that increases last year’s revenue by 25 percent. Figure out how many sales you need in each month, taking natural fluctuations into account. For low sales months, plan promotions that will help you meet your sales quota for that month. Having the goal of increasing your business by 25 percent each year will change the way you feel about yourself and your business.
When talking about AI, we usually imply that it will be used on a grandiose scale — saving lives with AI-assisted surgical tools, predicting historic events, driving autonomous cars, and what have you. In a corporate realm, business leaders are all over it and artificial intelligence consulting is in demand like never before. Not only does it help enhance a multitude of business processes but it also serves as a great tool to win customer loyalty and solidify competitive supremacy.
But what about smaller businesses or startups? Can they use this emerging, often confusing technology that even large corporations sometimes fail to implement correctly? Let’s explore the most potent use cases of AI for small business and how it can help increase efficiency, enhance employee experience, improve sales, and make better business decisions overall.
Powering Customer Relationships
Customer relationship management platforms are essential for businesses of any size. Tracking interactions with every customer via phone, email, or social media is a fundamental part of day-to-day service. Nowadays, customers expect businesses to know about them more than ever before. Providing personal recommendations based on previous interactions has become a standard of any B2C industry, and answering questions before customers ask them is what often separates thriving companies from the rest. As customers become more accustomed to all-permeating recommendations on media streaming platforms and online marketplaces, their expectations are rising, making businesses adjust their approach.
Automating Customer Communication
At the same time, we have thousands of much less sophisticated customer inquiries. For example, many customers tend to double-check a restaurant’s open hours even if they are clearly stated on the official website or social media. With the latest advancements in chatbot development, such questions can be easily answered without allocating human resources.
With the word ‘human’ at its core, paradoxically, HR is largely about data. Conventional HR tasks such as employee performance assessment or job applicants’ skillset evaluation come down to thorough analysis first and only then to decision making. AI can again reduce time spent on finding best-suited candidates by automatically wading through hundreds of applicants and prioritizing them based on a certain set of parameters.
Managing Cash Flow Intelligently
Thinking about starting your own small business? Consider that 20% of SMBs fail in their first year, and 50% fail in five years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. While these figures don’t seem that aspiring, small businesses often make the same mistakes. The second most mentioned reason for failure among SMBs concerns cash flow. This area remains out of complete control for many business owners, resulting in detrimental mistakes like delaying a loan payment, failing to predict creditworthiness, and misunderstanding sales trends.
Gaining Competitive Advantage with AI
For a small business, a single competitive advantage can go a long way. Quite often, many rival businesses operate in the same niche with a very narrow target audience. Every customer can make a difference. With similar products or services, competitive advantage goes far beyond simple marketing strategies and price adjustments. The first step toward gaining a real competitive significance is doing a thorough competitor analysis.
Debunking AI Myths
Small businesses rarely explore non-conventional solutions like AI. The confusion AI causes is understandable. Not only this technology requires deep research to fully understand it, but it also remains mostly unexplored in many niches. Unless an area’s key player uses the new technology and continues to succeed, others become more willing to adopt.
It’s Too Expensive
While often true for the corporate world and governmental organizations, AI adoption for small businesses costs significantly less. The costs of AI implementation among enterprises are comparatively astronomical as their business models often require regulatory compliance, carefully tailored software, specifically trained AI algorithms, management of sensitive information, and a dedicated development team on board.
It’s for Big Business
SMBs often hesitate to tap into AI, fearing they don’t have enough data. Your local skate shop has trillion times less data than Amazon, no doubt. However, the majority of SMBs don’t realize how much information they really have and that they don’t need the same amount of data as Amazon.
Data often remains idle and disorganized, scattered across different sources. This is why you need to thoroughly prepare for AI adoption by investing in data organization first. Moreover, keep in mind that ready-made AI solutions typically use cloud data scouted from other businesses in similar niches.
It’s Too Complicated
Yes, to squeeze the most value out of AI applications, it’s a must to sufficiently learn its basics. However, the hardest part about AI is developing the algorithms behind it, which has nothing to do with effectively using those tools. Most AI-powered software available on the market has user-friendly and well-thought-out UI. In most cases, complicated AI processes are happening behind the scenes. Software vendors that offer AI-enabled tools also tend to provide training materials along with it, which enables smooth user onboarding.
Each time you recognize someone’s face, you’re using an internal form of facial recognition. In a matter of milliseconds, your mind breaks down the parts of their face, puts them back together, and matches the sum with those faces already stored in your memory. When the process works seamlessly, you don’t even realize that it’s happening.
While you may not have given much thought to how your brain distinguishes one face from another, the behind-the-scenes process is fascinating and serves as the foundation for modern facial recognition apps. Though still considered an emerging technology, facial recognition is already being used in a number of applications ranging from social media to security. As more businesses consider applying this technology to their own organizations, it’s essential that they consider both the benefits and potential pitfalls of doing so.
How Does a Facial Recognition App Work?
We’ve covered this topic in detail in a previous blog post. Let’s briefly outline the basics necessary to understand the rest of this article.
Classified as a form of biometric identification, because it extracts information from the human body, much like retina scans and voice recognition, facial recognition software is designed to figure out what makes one face different from another. It does this by completing three key steps: face detection, faceprint creation, and identification. During this first step, the software picks out faces, as defined by the deep learning model it is based on. In short, the system is making sure that a face is a face and not, say, a ball or a pizza.
Once the system detects a face, it then begins making sense of it by creating a faceprint. Just as each person has a unique fingerprint, they also have a unique face. The distance between someone’s eyes, the length of their nose, and the shape of their mouth are just a few of the metrics that a facial recognition system uses to create a unique faceprint. While most systems can’t consistently differentiate between identical twins, some, like the iPhone X’s Face ID, are sophisticated enough to do so with a high degree of certainty. The result of all of these calculations is a mathematical formula that separates one face from another.
Factors Affecting the Quality of Facial Recognition
The size, shape, and angle of a photo affect the ability of a facial recognition app to correctly identify faces in it. The image obtained in the initial stages may need to be resized or reoriented in order to improve the system’s recognition capabilities. Hi-resolution 2D and 3D images typically produce the best face matching results. However, one of the most significant factors influencing the quality of facial recognition is lighting. A photo with a well-lit front-facing face and unobstructed view is considered ideal. How far away a face is from the camera, the expression that the person is making in the photo, and the degree of contrast between the face and the background all have a similar impact on the efficacy of facial recognition systems.
When most companies think about recruitment strategies for business growth, they might discus market penetration tactics, the development of new markets, product expansion and diversification, new marketing schemes and approaches, or even the acquisition of other companies to reduce competition and increase overall market share. While all of these plans for business growth can certainly be effective in a given situation, too often businesses fail to look within for ideas to fuel growth with the resources they already have on hand.
One of the most valuable resources of any company are the employees that show up to work on a daily basis. Engaged, motivated, and highly productive employees can help businesses in any industry achieve their growth targets. Unfortunately, studies have found that less than one third of all U.S. employees are “engaged with their current job. The same Gallup poll went on to find that slightly more than half of all employees are completely unengaged while 17 percent are “actively disengaged.”
Best Recruitment Strategies for Business Growth
Any recruitment strategy needs to begin with a detailed analysis of your current state and long-term goals. Before you can recruit the right people, you need to have a well-thought out profile of the ideal candidates that you will be searching for. Once you have determined the specific employee skill sets that will be most useful to help you achieve your growth targets, social media is a great way to search for potential candidates that fill these requirements.
Recruitment strategies also need to highlight the top benefits that the company offers. According to once recent survey, only 13 percent of employers stated that salary was the most important factor in retaining employees. While competitive salary and benefits are certainly one important element that top employee talent will search for, consider highlighting other attractive elements that your company offers. These can include:
- A completely digitalized workplace environment,
- The use of time and attendance software that allows employees to work remotely in certain cases,
- A company culture that encourages and motivates teamwork and employee satisfaction,
- Opportunities for continued education, training, and the ability to “climb the corporate ladder.”
Once you have your hiring strategy in place, it is also important to find ways to promote your employer brand in a way that will organically attract the top employee talent that you are seeking. A 2018 employee survey found that more than eight out of every ten job seekers actively read company reviews and ratings before applying for a given position. Developing a compelling brand story that potential employees can identify with should also be an essential and elemental part of your recruitment strategy. In our digitalized and social media-driven world, consider using multimedia tools to express your employer brand in a compelling manner.
A solid recruitment strategy to fuel business growth also understands that seeking out the top employee talent should be a constant process. Even if your company isn’t currently hiring, HR departments should be involved in building a talent pool for future hiring campaigns. Reaching out to top talent via LinkedIn, for example, can help push your employer brand and let top employee talent know that there might be better opportunities for them down the road. Passive candidates are those who are not actively seeking new employment, and actively recruiting them can help build the talent pool to choose from when you do decide to hire.
Also, businesses would also do well to construct an employee referral program. Obviously, not every employee will present you with great candidates. However, in many cases your top employees will be engaged with a network of peers who share their enthusiasm, engagement, and the needed skill set that your company needs to achieve its growth goals.
Lastly, a successful and holistic recruitment strategy should also focus on integrating diversity and inclusion in your sourcing pipeline. A diverse and multi-generational workplace environment offers several advantages to companies from a competitive standpoint and can also help to create a positive and motivating workplace culture.
The Importance of Using Applicant Tracking Software
Applicant tracking software (ATS) is a digital tool that can help companies and their HR departments stay up to date and meticulously analyze the candidates who apply for a given job. In many cases, reading through hundreds of applications can be tedious and lead to the best candidates slipping through the cracks. Applicant tracking software allows recruiters and hirers to go beyond the basic resume information in order to analyze the performance statistics of the best prospects.
Many different types of applicant tracking software rely on a basic type of artificial intelligence that can analyze relevant keywords that appear in a resume and/or job application. The software will subsequently align the top candidates with your current employee needs and how these fit into a larger, long-term business growth plan.
Instead of trying to manually go through hundreds of applications, these software options can efficiently assess and store the top applications. Automatic “ranking” options will then allow HR to dedicate more time to individually assessing the top candidates who did apply.
Another benefit of applicant tracking software is that the top resumes and applications can be stored in a talent pool database. If future hiring opportunities open up in the future, this software will allow HR departments to reach out to top employee talent who had previously applied with the company.
Have you noticed that more and more companies these days are turning to online customer support Portal ? Do you know the reasons? Maybe it’s time for your organization to consider taking full advantage of all a good customer portal has to offer?
This article will help you determine whether your ultimate business needs adding a self-customer support service.
Background To The User Portal
But before we start, tick the issues which are true for you.
- Your support team is always stressed and busy, bringing your business additional expenses on a regular basis.
- You don’t have a decent amount of regular customers as most of your customers are one-time-going individuals.
- You don’t know your customers, their real demands and reasons for dissatisfaction.
- You want to improve the customer experience your business software offers.
If you tick the majority of these cases or all of them, you definitely need a self-service online customer portal. Such a service augments your business potential, giving your customers what they expect to receive and the time they want to. In other words, a good integrated customer service might not only create a better customer experience, but also offers novel opportunities to grow and develop for your business.
Main Types Of An Online Customer Service
Today, there are several types of an online customer service:
- Live chat or a chatbot (you can speak to a company’s representative and get answers to all of your questions in real time). In most cases, live chats are completely automated, meaning that they have a definite set of most frequently used questions and possible answers. The computer sees the question and detects the right answer from its database. If the answer for the particular question is not found for some reasons, the question is send to a real person (customer support representative) who the replies. By the way, by means of AI (artificial intelligence) technologies you can teach such chatbots, so that they get smarter and smarter.
- Knowledge base and self-service or a FAQ (it’s a site of questions and answers). You have a question, simply find the product’s knowledge base usually located at the main site. Enter this page, find your question and check the answer. That’s it!
- A combination of these two options. (It’s a full-cycle self-service customer support).
Basically, a good online knowledge base in a user portal creates a better customer experience as it answers any questions your customers have. But that is not all. Actually, it’s a secure and efficient way for your target audience to get information which bypasses queues and waiting on return calls or emails. In other words, a customer looking for possible ways to solve issues doesn’t wait for your support team’s call or email, but checks your online knowledge base and can find answers to all their questions without your team being involved. Meanwhile, your team can concentrate on doing other tasks rather than just answering calls or emails. Sounds great, doesn’t it?
Key Functionality Of The Business Portal
In general, a good business portal does the following:
- Answers the demands of modern customers: they don’t need to bypass queues and wait on return calls or emails.
- Brings customer satisfaction: your users get what they want via live chat and messaging and they know how to solve any issues which might occur.
- Saves time both for your business and your customers: your team doesn’t need to waste its time on questions and calls answering. Meanwhile, your customers don’t depend on your working hours and can solve issues all by themselves anytime they need, even at night.
- Centralizes information and problems gathering and solving: you have a robust customer service agent solution, which gathers all information in one place. Thus, you customers and you know where to search for the required data.
- Gives you the vision of your customers’ needs: you may check which issues your customers experience, which solving solutions they prefer. Thus, you will have all chances to improve your business, offering your customers exactly what they want.
Luckily there are a number of self-service options offering omnichannel support currently available, both free and paid. But sometimes, you might need not only a good portal, but an out-of-the-box customer portal system, providing customers with more specific support and care. In that case consider finding a reputable custom software development partner, for instance, Artelogic. Our development company has the needed knowledge, skills and expertise to create an awesome client portal tailored to your ultimate business needs or customize the one you already have.
Are you now wondering what extra advantages can an out-of-the-box customer portal system bring?
If yes, check the key advantages a customer-centric integrated customer support offers:
- More elegant, smooth and business-centric portal software: the solution takes into account all your business needs, all your regular activities are automated and everything just works fine.
- Happier customers : since every single interaction with your customer matters, your software records all customers requests and helps you determine the best problem solving options for each particular customer.
- More ways to go for your customers: the custom-made online communities portal can bring your target audience the possibility to adjust the customer preferences to their individual needs.
- In-depth glance at your target audience and right personal-touched marketing: the custom in-built tracking and insights analytics and reporting tools can gather the important information about your target audience and thus, you can personalize exclusive marketing materials for your customers.
Therefore, a customer portal enables both your business and your customers benefit from it. By the way, Artelogic can help your develop and set up your business-centric self-service portal with ease. Just for the record, our expert application development team has developed numerous integrations apps, including a nice customer portal called The Daily Escape.
Customer Relationship Management CRM is a combination of tools that track and analyze the interactions you have with your customers. CRM software centralizes, simplifies, secures and scales customer engagement.
It is without doubt the best product for sales and management. Every CRM software offers a huge number of tools, and every single one of those CRM tools is great and worth taking time to see how it works.
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There are a number of advantages a CRM brings to a service business. Let’s analyze them one by one.
CRM stores your data. All your emails, analytics from social media, and other customer data will be stored in your CRM system. It helps to analyze and improve customer service and customer history. CRM systems are great for customer relationship management. You know how hard it is to track every customer detail when there are more than ten clients, and CRM software helps to be more organized and work more efficiently.
CRM helps employees to keep in touch. All your employees can save new data on a customer or business on the CRM platform, and they can easily access the data that the others entered. It is a great benefit when different employees work from different locations, and can greatly improve communication between departments. It also keeps everyone in the loop effectively. Some CRM systems even have the option to send out company-wide reminders. All the data can be found in one place and you don’t need to stack emails and papers.
CRM helps to boost sales. The main goal of a CRM is to help you to grow your business and your sales. It tracks the whole sales cycle, which helps to see your deals in every possible detail. You can have more leads and access all the information on them any time you need it without having to address the question to a different department. Basically, you are saving a lot of time, especially when it comes to routine tasks like emails. Your team will be more focused on sales than on keeping track of all these tiny chores, which will keep them better motivated and more productive.
CRM separates your contacts into different groups. Not all your customers and leads are with you for the same reasons. Some customers, for example, only use your service during a sale, while others get things or services from you regularly. A CRM tool lets you group your customers by certain criteria to sell particular products or services to them more efficiently.
CRM brings consistency to your work life. When you are consistent, you get more benefits from your work. You know when you have the time to upgrade your skills and when you need to do things. With a CRM management system you have all the accurate data and you don’t need to spend more time double-checking this information. Your customers will appreciate your accuracy and consistency. No need to rely on papers and your memory: it’s important to use a reliable management software these days when there are lots of customers and lots of information. Your employees benefit from this as well. With a CRM they don’t have to waste time trying to figure out what to do or trying to get information from each other. Every bit of possible data relevant to your business is available in the CRM system. When every employee is on the same page as the others, your business will function like a well-oiled machine and grow much faster. New employees will also get into the loop faster since all the information they need will be available in the CRM.
CRM helps you see your whole sales pipeline. Besides keeping just the main customer data, you can also save buying preferences, purchase history, and topics that interest your client. This gives you the possibility to recommend similar items or services that the customer might want to buy sooner or later. When you get enough information on different types of customers, you can unlock different business opportunities. You will also be able to track the turning points where you are losing customers, to see which stages of your service can be improved on, or even which pages of your website require optimization.
CRM software has a digital analytics tool. This integrated tool helps your employees analyze all trends and events, which will help you get new leads and customers. The employee can use the CRM to manage different activities and see which issues have to be addressed, like regional coverage, lead conversion rate or opportunity close rates. Here you can adjust your strategy.
CRM helps you create the unique experience for your customer. A big brand has lots of customer touch points. If you are a small brand, it will take more time to figure out those touch points. But once you do – your business gets to another level. You just have to make sure that this aspect of your business is highly optimized. If the customer experience is great, the customer will come back for more and will stay loyal to your company. Everyone has had a bad experience with some brand or other, and even if the service or products are fine, sometimes you never come back for more just because of that poor customer experience. With social media having so much power, it’s important to keep your business on a high level since a lot of people like to share their experience with their followers. Target customers will be pleased if they feel that they are welcome not only as buyers but also as individuals.
CRM solutions for best practices. CRM helps you optimize your workflow by getting rid of routine tasks that get on the nerves of your employees and lower their productivity. They will be able to spend more time on more important tasks and focus their skills and their effort on finding solutions to those questions.