How Technology Can Benefit Your Business - Part 1
The new generation of consumers are more tech savvy than ever, using the internet and their mobile phones to identify the companies that offer what they want, compare prices, check reviews and leave reviews, and of course make online purchases. Consequently, it is essential that businesses can engage this demographic to remain competitive.
As a modern entrepreneur, you have probably used Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to launch your business and as part of its operation in some form, and some methods are more successful than others. Different sectors may use ICT to a greater or lesser degree, but in almost any sector, technology has an important role to play. ICT has both tangible and intangible benefits that will help you gain brand visibility, generate revenue and produce the results your customers demand.
At MYP we are passionate about technology, and in this two-part series, we guide you towards applications that could benefit your business and give it a boost. Part one focuses on how ICT can help your business to improve communication, customer service and productivity and we explain the communication, marketing and branding tools of your Yellow Pages’ business page, that can strengthen different areas of your enterprise.
Improve Communication and Customer Service
Customer service has a bit of a bad reputation in Mauritius, so much so that good customer service can be a pleasant surprise! A lot of us may even avoid shops where the staff are unfriendly or if you shop regularly at a particular supermarket you probably know which cashier to evade because they can be a bit grumpy! Increased competition and online visibility means businesses need to pay more attention to the quality of product, service, and of their customer support than ever before. This is an area where technology can make a difference! So if you agree that businesses should be doing more to improve communication and the quality of customer service they provide, wonderful! Please read on!
Good communication and customer service go hand in hand. If you do not communicate effectively with your clients and customers it can count against you and result in negative reviews, fewer customers and falling revenue. So what can you do? Most consumers are connected 24/7 to their mobile phones, this provides you with a wealth of opportunities to provide more immediate customer service, but please make sure you are not spamming or intruding at inconvenient times!
Did you know your YP Business Page also provides you with a convenient communication tool? Once you have registered and accessed your business dashboard, you will find a menu specifically for YellowMail. Customers or potential customers can use YellowMail to communicate with you via your Business Page, and can do so anonymously if they only want to make an enquiry to begin with. The system is easy to use and you receive email notifications when you receive YellowMail so you do not need to keep checking your YP account.
Whether you communicate with customers via SMS, instant messaging, email, or YellowMail, here are just a selection of the ways you can provide superior customer service:
- Respond to enquiries about products/services via SMS, email or instant messaging apps.
- Allow customers to place orders on your website, via social media or your YP Business Page, for collection or delivery.
- Provide updates on orders/deliveries via SMS, instant messaging apps or YellowMail for orders through your Business Page.
- Follow up with customers to ensure they are happy with their purchases via SMS, email or instant messaging apps.
- Allow customers to provide feedback/reviews, invite testimonials and conduct surveys on how you can improve, via your website and social media accounts*
- Send newsletters via email or messages via SMS or instant messaging to customers with news about new products/services and special offers
- Provide real-time customer support, this means a member of staff needs to be connected to your communication channels during your working hours, this could be via SMS, instant messaging apps, or a live chat feature on your website. Alternatively you can use artificial intelligence in the form of a chatbot or virtual assistant feature, programmed to deal with a range of issues and can refer a customer to a member of staff if necessary (Amazon uses a feature like this). This can also be useful if your product/service requires round the clock support.**
*Your YP Business Page also features a review function! Any registered member or business can leave a review and the business can also respond. Any customers who purchase from you via your Business Page (Quotation feature) will automatically be asked to rate the transaction by leaving a review.
**YPs YellowMail function also serves as a customer support tool. If you ever need help with anything related to our services you can contact us directly and you will receive email notifications when we reply to your query. Do not forget we also have additional methods of customer support that you can consider for your business such as: video tutorials to guide you through how to use YellowMail and other features of your YP Business Page; Tooltips to guide you through the registration process and use of your Business Dashboard; and an FAQ site where you will find answers to most of the questions you might have about the Yellow Pages and our services. As the Yellow Pages itself is dual language, so are all of our support functions which is another example of improving communication to enhance your customer service.
As well as implementing the ideas above, you can also improve your customer service by making sure your staff are fully trained. Most would think this means physically going to take a class in person, but as with a lot of things these days, training can be completed online too! With E-Learning you can find a course that your employees can subscribe to online at a time convenient for them, or have them join a class remotely as a group, or even engage a personal tutor to provide a customised class via an online video conference tool such as Skype or Zoom.
Do not feel overwhelmed when implementing technological solutions to improve your communication and customer service, technology does a lot of the work for you! And remember that going the extra mile to improve the customer experience can really make you stand out from the competition.
You may well find that employing technology to improve your customer service and communication automatically has a positive impact on your productivity, but there is still more you can do to save time and resources.
Depending on what type of business you have, you could benefit from automating some of your tasks/processes. Most businesses advertise on social media, but rather than taking time out of your day when you plan to post content, you can set up scheduled posts all in one go. This allows you to queue up a number of posts to be published at later dates. There is also specialist software you can use to automate your posts across all your social media platforms, this is a particularly useful tool that can help you develop and implement a social media strategy by tracking the performance of different types of posts.
If you are the type of business that operates an appointment system, such as a dentist or a hairdresser you could benefit from using an automated booking calendar on your website. Booking software can make sure appointments are not double booked, and send you alerts when a slot is booked, freeing up your time from taking bookings by phone and having to consult your appointments diary each time.
You can also use technology to manage other aspects of your business, such as your data; whether it is your documentation or your inventory. Cloud computing makes it easier to store and share information with other members of your team, allowing access to files from a myriad of devices, using online cloud storage like Google Drive, Microsoft’s OneDrive, or Dropbox to store and share files with staff or clients if you are a service provider. If you sell your own products or are a reseller, you probably already use database software as a method of stock control. There are increasingly sophisticated software programmes that can not only keep track of your stock levels, but send you reminders when stock is running low or even place orders with suppliers on your behalf!
In terms of your human resources (HR), there are tools you can use to manage your staff more efficiently such as roster/scheduling software which can notify employees of their schedules or any changes to it, and staff can inform you of conflicts or requests for local or sick leave. HR software can automatically apply changes and rework rotas. You can also use software to automate your payroll, time clocking, and manage overtime and more.
If your business has been affected by nationwide lockdowns, you may have had staff working from home to keep your business going. Remote working can serve as a means of improving productivity even when travelling freely is possible, as it means less commuting and a better work life balance, which can lead to happier, more productive employees. ICT makes remote working easier to manage, with a number of tools such as video conferencing applications like Zoom, Google Meet, and Skype making real time communication and having virtual meetings effortless (as long as participants have a reliable internet connection!), particularly if you employ staff around the world. Online collaboration software like Slack also allows teams to work together on projects more efficiently, allowing for communication with team members outside of meeting environments.
There are also ICT applications you can use to track productivity, such as Time Doctor which can monitor users or projects, taking screenshots from their monitor. But to ensure that employees do not feel isolated and cut off from the work environment, it is a good idea to use the communication tools available to keep in touch, whether through formal meetings or informally. Do not forget also that remote working allows you to access talent from around the world for tasks that can be outsourced, or where you cannot find appropriate staff locally.
Keep searching for the right solutions for your business!
We hope part one of this article has given you a few ideas of how you can put technology to good use to improve connectivity with your staff and customers, as well as save you time and resources. Of course there are so many ICT solutions out there, so when you can, search for the solutions that suit your business best. Check back soon for part two of our guide to ICT for business which will focus on sales and marketing.