Running a small business can be overwhelming at the best of times. As a small business owner, it's important to be aware of how technology can help ease the burden and free up time for you to focus on winning clients and growing your business. Here are five examples of tech that can help you manage and run your growing business:
1. Data security & cloud computing
With growing concerns about privacy, data security has become a top priority for businesses, especially in Europe where GDPR has tightened the rules around how businesses acquire and use customer data.
It can become expensive to maintain customer data if your business is using onsite servers to store that data. Hiring and retaining IT staff, keeping up with compliance measures, and constant updates to ransomware and malware to protect against malicious users adds up fast.
Instead of using onsite data storage, using a cloud service may be a cost-effective solution. By using a cloud service to store data, your customer information will be well protected in a system that is consistently maintained and kept compliant. The cost savings of buying a subscription to a cloud service instead of maintaining your own data bank will likely be significant too.
2. Customer management
Another strategic decision to be made as you scale your small business is how to maintain customer relationships. A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system makes it easy to never lose track of a customer’s position in the sales funnel and, in turn, makes automated marketing easier. By keeping all of your important customer information in one central platform, you’ll never be left searching for that contact info or the latest customer correspondence.
There are so many CRM systems to choose from, many tailored to specific industries too. It's certainly worth investing in one as your business grows and you have more customers to manage.
3. Robotic process automation
Small business owners will agree that, all too often, they're spending far too much time on admin. This is time that could be spent on strategic planning, improving workflow, and making sure your employees are fulfilled and have the tools they need to move your business forward. One way to tackle this problem is by employing robotic process automation (or RPA for short), which can be thought of as a software that’s capable of automating administrative tasks, saving you and your staff countless hours.
Using an automated system for administrative tasks will ensure that information isn’t lost to human error. When a customer buys a product or service, you can set up a bot to automatically record the sale. Instead of hiring additional staff, you can use RPA to automate almost any computer-based task you need, ensuring accuracy and saving money. This means you can hire employees for their ability to be creative and problem solve, rather than their ability to punch data into a spreadsheet.
4. Customer service
Today's customers expect quick response times to their questions and 24/7 availability from many businesses. This is where chatbots can help by easing the burden on your customer service team. Chatbots can answer basic questions from your customers, removing the need for your staff to waste time on simple questions. Some queries can even be answered in full by a chatbot.
This will save a great deal of time for your staff as Chatbots can handle preliminary inquiries, allowing your staff to know the context of the query before speaking to the customer. Not only can chatbots answer some preliminary questions, but they can also send a customer to the right department first.
5. HR software
Managing your employees should be about making sure they’re fulfilled, understanding their needs as workers, and continuously improving their working environment. By using human resource management software, you can save a lot of time on repetitive administrative tasks like holiday requests, training, and absence tracking. By centralizing employee information, it’s easy for your employees to access important information like payslips and direct deposit forms, too.
Much like CRM systems, there's also a wide variety of HR software readily available to UK businesses, designed specifically around company size and industry. By investing in the right HR software, you can allow your HR staff to focus on creating a positive work culture and hiring talent to help grow your business.
If you're looking for other ways to streamline business processes and free up time, take a look at our recent article highlighting 10 business apps for entrepreneurs in 2020.