If you are starting a new business, you have probably researched and read just about every article on what you need to know. In business, there is a well-known phrase: it’s not what you know; it’s who you know. While you can’t make a success of a poorly planned idea just because you know the right people, you can secure your future if you have a reliable team of contacts around you.
The first contact you need on speed dial is a good accountant. This is someone able to advise you on all of the financial aspects of your company. They should be involved with your economic forecast, run an eye over all your budgets and be there to help you understand any tax implications you have. What is essential is you have an accountant that is willing to take off his accountancy hat and talk to you honestly. A good accountant will help you save money and not be afraid of telling you if you are heading in the wrong direction.
You should also get to know a strong PR professional—the reputation of your company matters. A strong PR will be able to prepare you for many situations from helping you out of a crisis to making the best out of going viral. The person you work with should know your company inside out. They need a strong understanding of how you want your voice to be and what you want your consumers to feel about your company.
Legal advice is always handy, whatever end of legal proceedings you are. If you are an employer, then you need to call an employment lawyer and build a relationship. This can help you to ensure that you are getting everything right when it comes to your staff. It also assists you if you find yourself in a tricky situation as you will already have a rapport with someone. A good lawyer will never be afraid to give you the hard facts, straight. But, they should also understand any loopholes if you need them.
You may not need any money injected into your business, but having an investor in your network is always a useful asset. There are times in every business when we need solid advice on money matters. You may even use them as a sounding board if you want to bring on some stakeholders into your company. An investor not only provides a potential source of money should you have a viable proposition, but they will also have good connections and banks or other financial institutes which will help you with loans or business finance.
Build a strong team around you by attending networking events. A little black book in the world of business is worth as much as gold. Just remember to help them in return wherever you can, recommend them to other companies or advertise them across your social media. Keep a tight circle, and your business could grow bigger and stronger than you ever imagined.
Companies need to provide their customers with quality customer service. It is a necessary cost of doing business – and something people have come to expect.
Technology, however, is fundamentally reshaping the interaction between firms and their clients. The old days of just calling a customer service rep seem to be coming to an end. We’re entering a radically different era.
The changes are proud when you consider them in full. Just a few years ago, the idea that a chatbot could solve your problems online seemed hopelessly futuristic. Now, though, major banks and eCommerce companies routinely use them to deal with customer inquiries. It’s a massive time-saving device.
Blockchain also has the potential to reshape company-client interactions radically. Creating a permanent ledger removes the need for financial intermediaries (or even lawyers to enforce contracts). It allows economic agents to engage with each other unilaterally, without the involvement of costly third parties.
So how is technology reshaping customer service and communications? And what can we expect to change over the coming decade?
Email Will Die And Be Replaced By Real-Time Chat Apps
A few years ago, several companies began experimenting with the idea of using Facebook Messenger to talk to customers, instead of their regular email channels. Interestingly, they discovered that clients preferred it to email exchanges. It was quicker and similar to texting – most people’s preferred method of engagement.
It is likely, therefore, that email will slowly die a death over the coming years. Companies will begin providing cheap, easy-to-use, integrated messaging solutions that allow customers to communicate directly with reps.
The challenge for firms will be to ensure that these messaging conversations are authentic and consistent with the brand. Reps will require additional training to ensure that they don’t say anything via text that could cause the company to fall into disrepute.
Blockchain Is Going To Change Customer Support
When people hear the buzzword “blockchain,” they immediately think of cryptocurrencies, like bitcoin. But the truth is that blockchain is much bigger than this specific application. It is a technology that allows people who don’t know each other to interact without first building trust.
The applications of blockchain in customer service are still being thrashed out, but there are several areas you’ll want to follow. The first idea is to use blockchain to set up recurring payments. Instead of bickering over fees, customers and companies could enshrine them in a blockchain-based contract and let the thing tick over automatically month after month.
The second use could be for things like downpayments and credit. Customers can’t always stump up the money for goods and services upfront. Instead, they require a lender to provide them with cash. Companies could come to agreements with banks and creditors to use blockchain to enshrine contracts. The process would effectively eliminate fraud and ensure that all parties are paid on time.
For years, companies have been looking for ways to step into their customers’ shoes so that they can better meet their needs. Hiring naturally empathetic people is a longstanding strategy. Hiring managers would typically look for people who are comfortable with meeting the needs of others.
Now, though, that’s all changing. Technology is taking up the slack – and making a substantial difference.
Take the concept behind Drop Cowboy, for example. The idea here is to avoid cold calling by going straight through to customer voicemail. People are then able to listen to messages when convenient and call back if they need to.
Software developers are also investigating whether they can automate more of the rote tasks of customer service reps, freeing them up to listen to customers’ concerns. Ultimately, clients aren’t interested in procedures of systems. They want reps willing to listen to their problems and deal with them.
Automation software, therefore, is going to make a big difference in how companies do customer service. Human reps are going to have tools that take care of all the background admin, allowing them to focus more on their patrons’ emotional concerns.
AI Will Mean That Humans Solve Fewer Problems
Artificial intelligence is still some way off achieving human levels of cognition, but it isn’t far off in some areas. We’re likely to see an increase in the number of companies forwarding customers to AI bots to solve their problems over the coming years. This software will primarily deal with all the easy tasks, allowing human reps to help customers solve the most challenging issues. Thus, there will be less of a rush to process customers, and everyone will feel happier as a result.
Social Media Will Become The Predominant Customer Service Tool
Social media is already massively popular among customers. In the coming years, though, it could become the predominant customer service tool.
We already see massive changes coming down the pike. Customers, for instance, are using Facebook and Twitter to leave real-time feedback on their experiences of restaurant meals. And social media is fast becoming a public forum where people can talk about their experiences of particular businesses.
In the future, though, things are likely to change again. Companies are going to have to handle social media like a Roman crowd. They’re going to have to work it and get the mob onside. Part of customer service, therefore, will be to promote how companies have helped their clients. Firms will need to develop a game plan for how they’re going to massage public opinion and keep relations cordial. When things go wrong, they need a strategy to help them get the situation back on course.
Customer Success Will Become A Differentiator
Companies are going to have to start talking about their customer successes more too. Prospects want to see that a firm can actually help the people that it serves.
Technology, therefore, will need to develop further to facilitate this level of functionality. Reps will need tools that allow them not only to advise but also to troubleshoot their customers’ problems. It will become a far more active and real-time role.
A lot of people think that running a business from home is a stress-free venture. If you are an accomplished business owner then this might be the case, but if you are new to the world of running a company then things won’t be so simple. If you follow these steps properly then you can make sure that your home start-up is as successful as an office-based equivalent.
Insure Yourself from the Get-Go
When you start a business from home, you still have to make sure that you check your insurance policy. You may need to take out some additional cover if you decide to conduct any kind of business activity within your household. This is not expensive, but it will help you out if you ever find yourself in some legal trouble. If you want to help yourself even more then it may be worth trying to contact a 24/7 bail bonds service. If your business requires a client to enter your property, then you may need to take out public liability insurance. This isn’t expensive at all, but it could help you to come out on top.
Some might see having an accountant as a superfluous expenditure but at the end of the day, the amount of money you could make by simply listening to their advice will probably outweigh the fees that they charge. A competent accountant can tell you the costs which you can offset as a business and this can save you a huge amount of money with your tax bill at the end of the year.
Remove Any Distractions that Could Impede your Progress
The amount of work that you put into your business will ultimately determine success for the future. For this reason, it is very important that you are using your working hours to actually work. If you feel as though you are always distracted, then this won’t be doing you any favours at all. Working from home requires a great deal of motivation so turn off everything that might distract you and have as much enthusiasm as you can when getting things done.
Utilise Tech as Much as you Can
The most overlooked hurdle that those who work from home need to deal with is having problems with equipment. You probably won’t have the money required to invest a great deal in your business and you won’t have the tech that big companies have either. If you want to help yourself here, then you need to make sure that your broadband package is at least average. You also need to make sure that you do everything you can to install programs which help you with your work process. If you don’t then you may find that you end up falling behind and this is the last thing that you need. Remember that every time you buy something to help you with your company, you are freeing up money which you can then claim back on tax so at the end of the day, it’s worth trying to spend a bit extra so you can really boost your success.
First impressions are important in business. If your business premises doesn’t look attractive, it could steer potential customers away rather than enticing them in. This matters most with shops and restaurants, but it can also impact offices and other commercial buildings too. To ensure that your business premises is creating the right impressions, here are just some of the factors that you should consider.
Consider the location
Good premises needs to be in a good location. If the local neighbourhood is dirty or derelict, it could have an impact on the way in which clients perceive your business.
If you’re opening a shop or restaurant, this could be something important to consider. When it comes to offices and factories, it may not matter much if you don’t regularly invite clients to your premises – if you need to hold meetings, it may be possible to outsource meeting space elsewhere or find a coffee bar to host a meeting from.
Fix up visible damage
A run-down building could suggest a run-down business. Make sure that any visible damage is repaired before it gets too noticeable.
Cracked windows and peeling paint could be things to consider on the exterior. As for the interior, replace any damaged carpets and get rid of any broken furniture or equipment. Don’t forget about your premises car park – if the concrete is cracked, there are companies like https://www.keflatwork.com/concrete-repair-replacement/ that can fix it. You could find that such repairs have a dramatic impact on your company’s reputation, as well as your own productivity.
Keep it clean
On top of keeping your premises well maintained, it’s also important that it’s clean. Cobwebs, thick layers of dust and dirty windows will suggest that you don’t care about your business.
Hiring contract cleaners is an easy way to keep on top of cleaning. An annual deep clean may also be necessary.
Use clear signage
Clear signage can help shops and restaurants to stand out on the street.For other businesses, clear signage may still be important for helping clients to find your premises.
Plants are a great way of sprucing up any business premises. They can add a sense of life to a building that might otherwise look drab.
This could include hanging baskets outside your entrance or potted plants inside your premises. Just make sure that you water these plants regularly – dead plants will not create a good first impression.
When making your premises more welcoming, make sure not to compromise security. Features such as security lighting and security cameras can help to ward off would-be intruders. You should also be careful of putting valuables on display during non-opening hours.
The internet has allowed businesses to connect with customers in ways that were never possible before. However, it is not the only impactful way to reach out to potential customers. There are many forms of traditional marketing that are still effective. Here are just 4 offline marketing strategies that still work.
Event marketing can be a great way of reaching out to certain customers. When securing large sales, it can often be worth hosting a sales conference – this can be an opportunity to present your product to a crowd of potential buyers, answering any questions they may have and potentially demonstrating your product. Trade fairs can also be an effective form of event marketing – such events are great for gaining exposure and generating leads.
Events can allow you to appeal to all the senses. They offer a physical experience that can help to make your brand more memorable. They can be expensive to organize however – it’s worth hiring a professional event planning company to help.
Print marketing includes the likes of flyers, posters, business cards and brochures. While many businesses have switched to emails due to the reduced costs and reduced time involved when sending them, there are still times when print can be a more successful option. In fact, print media tends to have a much higher success rate than emails when it comes to generating leads.
There are direct mail printing and marketing services out there that can produce and mail print media for you – this can save you time and money. Like any form of marketing, print media is most effective when strategically targeted at the right places. For instance, rather than handing out flyers to random people on the street, consider posting them to targeted homes and leaving them in specific places where your key consumer is likely to be found.
Many people still listen to the radio. By investing in radio advertisements, you could reach out to many potential customers.
A radio advert needs to be memorable (a lot of people listen to radio in the car and aren’t able to make notes) so you may want to pay a company to come up with a catchy jingle. Many local radio stations accept adverts of all forms. You may pay more for having your advert aired during a certain time of the day.
Networking is a way of building connections. Some of these connections could be potential customers while others may be fellow business owners that are able to help promote your business. There are lots of ways to network offline including attending conferences, attending seminars and joining local business groups. You may even be able to build useful connections simply from attending social functions like weddings and parties (you never know where you’re going to find a potential customer).
The key to successful networking is not being afraid to approach people. Having business cards on you can also be useful if you need to exchange contact details.