2016 has dawned!! Like every new year, this year also brings immense promise and excitement. But how effectively do we capitalize upon these twelve months, completely depends on how exhaustively do we plan in the first few days.
(Yes, you guessed it right: New Year’s Resolutions)
Do not panic. This article isn’t about New Year’s resolutions that are easier to say than keep, for example – losing weight, starting your diet plan, kicking an old bad habit etc. Rather the discussion is about practical and timeless list of resolutions, that you should make as a small business owner. These resolutions are about both your professional and personal life. Taken individually, they will make difference in some aspects; collectively, they will change your life completely.
So, commit to these resolutions this year, and discover a better you and a more successful business.
1. Change your perception of Customers
Bid adieu to the old concept of viewing customers as ‘transactions’. Train your employees not to look upon customers as – people who just keep the cash registers rolling. Instead, view your customers in terms of ‘relationships’ and continuously innovate the ways in which you engage with them. Due to the continued expansion of mobile technology and social media channels, customers are interacting with businesses at a whole new level. Invest in a robust new-age CRM software suite and get the bandwidth to interact with your customers via new communication channels and deliver value to them in every engagement.
2. Make GOOD customer service a ‘priority’
”Next year, businesses should focus on strengthening their customer relationships” – John Peavler, small business expert.
Most renowned small businesses acknowledge customers after a sale/purchase. But is that really enough? Or is there more that we can do?
Unlike the previous years when 80-85% customer satisfaction was considered optimal, today 100% customer satisfaction is imperative. And some of the best names in the business world have already got it. So small businesses, take note! Get you act together and see how you can provide good customer service to every potential, new and existing customer.
Because no matter the size of your business, customer service is the new battlefield. Excellent service at all touchpoints throughout the customer journey needs to be the base of your business model, if you wish to succeed and out-pace the bigger competitors.
3. Make Technological investments carefully
In the race to outdo each other, small business owners make enormous investments in technology. But most of these investments are not backed by analysis and research.
Result: SMBs fail to get the best bang for their technology buck.
This new year, commit to base all your technological investment decisions with exhaustive research and analysis. Examine your business process, indulge in some intense brainstorming sessions with your management, check out your competitors technological investments and study key industry trends.
Ditch the standalone business applications. Instead opt for comprehensive and integrated business management suites that streamline your process, break down the departmental silos, foster greater team collaboration and increase business productivity.
So many busy small business owners have already made their life easier by investing in these new-age business management suites. Make 2016 the year to simplify your life too!
4. Revamp Social Media Customer Service strategy
Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Linkedin, Pinterest, YouTube and Instagram – these are SEVEN big giants of social media. They have ruled 2015 and reportedly will continue to do that in 2016 as well. According to Nelson’s Social Media Report, in 2016 nearly half of consumers will use social media to post queries and express feedback.
This means that expectations in regards to social media customer service will shoot up this year. It is advisable to start planning now, how you will create a seamless customer experience across your website, brick and mortar store and social media accounts.
5. Better manage Cash Flow
Small business owners often get stuck in managing their finances. They run short on cash at the most crucial moments. A possible reason behind this is lack of planning and organization of finances. Since now it’s the beginning of a new year and the ideal time to make resolutions, include cash flow management in the list too. Promise that unlike every year, this year you will not focus only on profit at the expense of cash flow. Prepare a monthly budget. It will make running your business easier, ensure that you pay all the dues on time and help maximize your profit.
6. Maintain Work-Life balance
Most of you will agree that although by designation you are a CEO, in reality, you are a marketing manager, sales agent, customer service associate, accountant and what not…
That is because, unlike the large enterprise owners, you don’t have the luxury of passing duties off to your managers. Now, irrespective of the fact whether you see this scenario as a blessing or a curse, the worrying fact is that in the midst of all this, your personal life has gone out of the picture.
And this lack of work-life balance can lead to stress and serious health problems. So this year, change the approach altogether. Identify and prioritize your multiple responsibilities. Opt for all-in-one CRM suites that can manage your entire business. Get eight hours of sleep at night and learn to unplug from your work when you are out for vacation.