Technology impacts nearly every type of business. Whether you own an online store or offer local services to homeowners, IT improvements make your business more productive. However, upgrades to software and systems are something many companies push to the back burner.
The United States Census Bureau reports 30.7 million small businesses in the United States. Any industry you’re in has fierce competition for a limited pool of customers. If you want to grow and succeed, you must strive for perfection and continuous growth.
Which IT improvements are worth investing in? How do you know where to spend your money? We’ve gathered information on the top six IT developments your business should make if you want to up your game.
1. Add Chatbots to Your Site
When people come to your website for information, is there a way for them to immediately interact with your brand? If not, you risk losing them to a competitor with live chat. Chatbots automate the process of instant interaction and gather the information you need to create a more personalized experience.
Use the chatbot to grab the person’s name and answer common questions with pre-programmed answers. At some point, you need to add a live agent to the conversation. Train your employees to thoroughly read the chatbot interactions and understand the question or issue the customer’s faces. Chatbots should speed up and streamline the process, not require the user to repeat themselves.
2. Move to Cloud Computing
There are many advantages to cloud computing. The costs are often cheaper as you no longer have to pay an IT staff member to run your machines. Employees can access databases from anywhere and any device. In early 2020, it became clear how important it is for companies to shift to remote work on the fly.
Cloud computing also allows your salespeople and technicians out in the field to access details on a client. They can add notes, check inventory and give up-to-date information that ups the customer service level of your brand.
3. Create an App
Want to give your customers a personalized experience? Create an app allowing them to access their account or shop from their smartphone. Once customers download the app, you can track when they’re near your store and send out a ping inviting them inside. You can also send out personalized offers based on past buying behavior.
Look for ways to improve the customer experience via your app. If you run a subscription service or something with a recurring monthly bill, let them pay via the app. What are the features customers most want? You may need to survey current clients to find out.
4. Improve Onboarding
When customers first sign up with you, how do you onboard them? With any product or service, there is a learning curve. If you own a restaurant, you may have a particular way of ordering that customers need to learn to speed up the process. If you sell a service to other businesses, they may need instructions on how to access the website and use it effectively.
Go through each step of your onboarding and look for ways to up your game. You may need to speed up your website so that videos stream smoothly. Perhaps you need an app to walk the user through the process. Think about how you can improve the UX for your customers during onboarding and make the changes required for a fabulous experience.
5. Invest in CRM Tools
If you’ve looked into big data and how best to improve your company’s processes, you’ve likely heard about customer relationship management (CRM). Add on tools reminding customers when it’s time to re-order or reach out to them when they haven’t ordered in a while. Automate communication, so they feel they are an essential part of your brand.
CRM software also allows you to run reports and figure out what new products customers might enjoy or reach out to your biggest spenders. Make a list of your top clients and invite them to lunch to show them you care and keep them loyal to your company.
6. Automate Marketing
Marketing is the engine driving new customers to your brand and keeps current clients engaged. Make some tough decisions on where to best spend your time and dollars. Then, automate as many of your marketing efforts as you can.
Look for social media management tools where you can schedule posts ahead of time. Some services curate relevant content from other sources and share it with your users. Put in the parameters making the most sense for your business model and let the software do the work.
7. Technology Changes Constantly
Science moves too fast to stay on top of it. There are constant changes in the software available, what artificial intelligence is capable of and how customers interact with brands online. Pay attention to changes in IT. Read about new inventions and how things such as voice search and smartphones change customer interactions. If you’re aware of popular trends, you’re much more likely to choose the IT improvements that are most beneficial to your customers and are likely to help you see a return on investment.
Lexie is a UX designer and digital nomad. She enjoys kayaking with her goldendoodle and baking new cookie recipes. Check out her design blog, Design Roast, and connect with her on Twitter @lexieludesigner.