Technology has impacted small and medium businesses in amazing ways. From streamlining processes to improving efficiency, it makes management easier in many ways. It also helps to boost customer satisfaction and engagement. If you run an SMB, then you probably already know that. The biggest question many managers face is deciding where to direct their limited tech budget. The ultimate decision will be based on your business size and industry sector, how you interact with customers currently, and where you see the business going in the future. Knowing what is available and how it can help you grow can give you some insight into where your investment will be best spent.
1. Human Resources Software
The entire field of human resources is being changed by technology. From online platforms for recruiting new employees to time tracking software that streamlines attendance tracking the innovations have made hiring, managing and tracking staff easier. Communication between HR and employees is more convenient and efficient thanks to the technology that provides secure channels. Forms and legal documents can be sent, reviewed and signed completely online. The data from employee management programs can be used to analyze performances and attendance, helping managers to compile employee reviews that accurately reflect work. There is a huge amount of data, however, so care must be taken to use it properly and manage it securely.
2. Customer Relationship Management
A robust customer relationship management system is a key technology investment that businesses should consider. These systems compile data from various programs and analyze it to give a complete picture of each client or customer. The right CRM will help you develop strong relationships with current and potential customers. You can gain a better understanding of customer behaviors by studying each interaction they have with your business. This allows you to tailor your interactions to specific individuals or segments of your base, maximizing sales and profits. There are many CRM programs available with a vast array of features, so it will be up to you to weed through them and find the one whose features best meets your needs.
3. AI-Based Chatbots
Artificial intelligence and machine learning are here, and they help streamline many processes in the business. While a majority of those are in data analysis and processing, chatbots that mimic real-life interactions are becoming increasingly common. According to this recent Forbes article, a majority of consumers enjoy interacting with chatbots for routine requests. This is especially prevalent among younger people. Today’s bots are excellent at creating a live-person experience and can provide useful information quickly no matter what time of day or night it is requested.
4. Mobile Applications
Customers want seamless transitions between desktop and mobile platforms and an intuitive app can help make that a reality for your small business. Adding mobile applications that allow them to view account information, make purchases, communicate with staff and manage preferences can help improve the overall customer experience. If you opt against an app, consider optimizing your website for mobile use.
5. Data Security
The data you gather may likely contain sensitive information about your customers and business, which makes cybersecurity an important part of your operations. Unfortunately, small and medium businesses are increasingly becoming targets of cybercriminals. They often keep valuable information stored on servers yet lack the comprehensive security systems that larger businesses employ. That is why increasing cybersecurity protocols is one of the best tech investments your business can make today. Ransomware and phishing scams continue to make up a large portion of threats, so if your budget is constrained those are key areas for focus.
6. Advanced Payment Methods
Contactless payments have come a long way and more people are using them than ever before. A recent survey revealed that more than half of Americans are using contactless payment options when given the choice. From tap to pay credit card readers to mobile wallets like Apple or Google Pay services, look at what options work best for your business to accept.
By embracing technology, your business can become more efficient and productive. Carefully consider your needs when deciding which features will help you achieve business goals.