The small business workforce has an engagement crisis on its hands.
Younger generations of workers, like millennials, are reportedly the least engaged generation working today, contributing to 85% of all employees feeling disengaged at work. At the same time, 54% of customers believe that brands need to completely rethink how they engage with consumers.With the dawn of the gig economy, full-time freelance vendors and flexible work environments, tech-powered workspaces are essential for connecting and unifying your teams. In a survey of over 4000 office workers, 89% responded that technology made them more productive in the office, demonstrating just how instrumental new innovations have become to the way that we do work. And from the customer’s perspective, up-to-date tech ensures a smooth and secure transaction process. In the digital era where speed, accuracy and convenience are paramount to consumers, technology is the key to improving your customer experience.
As the future of work speeds toward deeper and smarter tech integrations, make sure you and your small business team remain adaptive by adopting these digital philosophies into your workspaces and CX strategy.
Regardless of whether you’re a one-person freelance operation or work within a much larger group, great communication is at the core of any successful business.
When it comes to productive communication, technology is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, employees and customers are privy to more communication channels than ever before —such as chatting, emailing, video calling and even texting. But the increased reliance on technology means that its failures can result in significant disruptions in communication and productivity.
The communication challenge is particularly pertinent for small businesses that work remotely or have an e-commerce presence, as these organizations will have fewer opportunities for employees and customers to speak face-to-face. Last year, 57% of shoppers reported that they preferred to buy online — a large share of the market that your business is missing out on if you rely solely on foot traffic to your brick-and-mortar stores.
To improve communication internally with remote coworkers and externally with online customers, consider adding video conferencing into your existing communication strategy. For employees, video-aided conversations are the closest approximation to an in-office experience, allowing users to express the nuance of their ideas through visual and auditory cues. And when it comes to converting new customers, video chats become a persuasive tool for sales and marketing teams, who can create a more human connection with individual customers.
Meeting the Online Demand
Creating an online brand presence — from your social media accounts, company blog, e-commerce space, and more — extends far beyond maintaining communication, however. In order to establish an online retailer that is credible and easy-to-use, you will have to earn the trust of your online customer base.
Fostering a trustworthy, authoritative relationship requires much more work from your customer experience efforts when compared to your in-store operations, for several reasons. Today’s customers spend more time researching online than ever before (upwards of 79 days for major purchases), meaning that even a few less-than-favorable reviews could point them in another direction.
Online shoppers also place an implicit trust in your company’s ability to keep their purchasing information secure and confidential each time they complete a transaction. Cyberattacks or other types of breaches often have fatal damages to a brand’s online reputation.
That’s where upgrading your technology comes into play. If you’re looking to translate your physical storefront into a digital one, you might opt for a virtual terminal to simplify the payment process without sacrificing your online security. Similar to other payment solutions, virtual terminals are an ideal solution for small business owners who often do not have the bandwidth to manually manage their invoices, recurring payments and other electronic billing.
Managing Your IT Toolbox
As a small organization, keeping your workplace technology upgraded is as important as it is difficult. Though it’s been proven that outdated technology costs organizations more than it saves through new investments, 27% of SMBs do not have IT support.
The lack of agency around IT management could be linked to several causes—from lacking the IT expertise necessary to maintain IT infrastructures on their own to simply not recognizing the value of proper care for the technology that is instrumental to your operations. But perhaps the most notable cause has to do with one single factor: time. Small business owners, who already don several hats at any given point in their workday, don’t have enough hours in the day to properly tend to their digital toolbox.
If your company struggles to keep track of all of your virtual assets, support web-based customer service or is unsure of where to even start in the IT management process, you might find it worth your time to partner with a managed IT services provider. Outsourcing your IT needs allows you to focus your efforts beyond the day-to-day, administrative tasks, such as honing in on a new sale or brainstorming new angles for marketing your products.
Managed IT services providers offer more than just the convenience of your time, however. These IT specialists double as perfect consultants, delivering help-desk services to help you solve any immediate technical difficulties and gleaning their insights on how you could better leverage technology to run your business. If your business is in a field where technology compliance and regulations are a concern, an external IT management team helps ensure that your network is secure and up to industry standards around the clock.
Adopting a Digital Company Culture
Perhaps more of an amalgam of digital integrations and tools, the key to revamping your workspaces has everything to do with your company’s perceptions toward adopting new technology. Today’s businesses struggle more than ever to keep up with the latest innovations and trends as they emerge on the market because the speed at which new digital products and services are released increases exponentially — but that does not make upgrading this tech any less important.
Companies that do not or cannot embrace digital change and agility are sure to be swept away in the upcoming years as their more tech-inclined competitors outperform them. Anticipating and adapting to these changes at the organizational level will become the only way to keep business interests aligned and continue moving toward the future of work.