TMCnet Feature
July 30, 2020

Why Certain Types of Software Investments Still Make Sense for Your Business

When revenue is in the red and sales are trending down, it’s hard to think about anything but the present. Our current health crisis turned economic shutdown has resulted in slashed expenses, furloughed workers and skyrocketing unemployment claims.

While a large number of businesses shut down due to shelter-in-place orders, 79 percent of small businesses reported being at least partially open in June. Fifty-six percent feel comfortable with their company’s cash flow situation.

Integrating new softwares and systems into your workflow is one way to make a lasting investment in your business. The upfront cost now might result in a better bottom line later.

With an eye toward the future, consider these options and how they might benefit your business.

Customer Relationship Managers

Every business has sales targets, but do you have a plan for how you’ll hit them? A recent Gartner survey revealed only 45 percent of sellers have confidence in the accuracy of their organization’s sales forecasting. Low-quality data was identified as a contributor to forecasting inaccuracy. Businesses that rated their data as high-quality had employed a customer relationship manager.

A CRM system does many things, but at its core, the system is a robust database that stores not just contact info but relationship notes about customers. Take for example a coffee company that maintains dozens of wholesale accounts. Instead of trying to remember to check-in with all these clients, a CRM reminds you when it’s time to give them a call and includes a notes section that allows you to pick the conversation up right where you left off. Inputting and importing all the quantitative and qualitative data about relationships into the cloud-based system means it’s instantly accessible.

CRMs help businesses not only maintain customer relationships but discover new ones. By using a digital POS, most businesses are already collecting large amounts of data every time a transaction is made. By pulling in this data stream and pairing with customer demographics, the CRM can provide insightful data and offer a birds-eye view of operations. Equipped with this data, business owners can see who their next target audience might be, gain ideas for generating leads and forecast sales accurately.

A CRM system might be right for your business if: You maintain a small staff and don’t have hours to spend on compiling and analyzing data; your team juggles several client relationships; dropped balls and missed follow-ups have led to unhappy customers and unsatisfactory customer service experiences; or you don’t have many repeat customers.

Payroll Software

The COVID-19 crisis hasn’t been easy on employees, and plenty of companies are having to make some tough decisions: research from payroll platform OnPay found that the average small business has had to lay off or furlough more than a quarter of its workers. While some states might have reopened, the prospect of a second wave of infections has brought everything into doubt — making it difficult for businesses to know if, how, and when things might get back to normal.

As you onboard new workers, return some employees to the workplace, or are forced to let others go, you need to have a system in place that ensures nothing gets lost in the shuffle. The right payroll software can make it easy for everyone to get the funds they need with the proper deductions taken out, saving you hours of work in the process. The last thing you need right now is to make a mistake with your payroll sheet, so let the software take care of  it all for you.

Email Marketing Systems

You likely spend a lot of time in your inbox and spending more could lead to a higher ROI. A survey by Campaign Monitor showed that 64 percent of small businesses are using email marketing and seeing the highest return on investment from it. There are two types of email marketing: automated and manual.

Using the automated features of an email marketing system, marketers can build custom email campaigns that operate based on user behavior. For example, if a shopper leaves items in their digital cart and then exits your website, the automated system sends an email reminding the customer to complete their purchase. Related, once a customer buys an item, an automated email system sends a follow-up email at a later date asking for a product review and offering a discount code for future purchases. When paired with your customer data, which you should be maintaining in a CRM platform, automated email systems fire off reminders, such as “We Miss You!” discounts to incentivize return customers. With the right amount of data, an automated email sends customers product suggestions based on their browsing or buying history.

Manual email marketing takes a more hands-on approach, though there are several tools out there with integrated AI to make it easier. This type of marketing includes a regular email newsletter or targeted sales campaigns. With nine out of 10 internet users active on email, devoting some staff hours to manual mass emails will have payoff for your bottom line. Just make sure to circle back and review the analytics from each email to refine your strategy.

An email marketing system might be for you if: Your business has struggled to make conversions from social media marketing; you have an underutilized customer email list; your business uses ecommerce platforms; or you want to connect more directly with your customer base.

Slide into their DMs

If email marketing hasn’t proven fruitful with your customer base, try reaching them through text. SMS text marketing, essentially an email marketing system but for text messaging, is a more personal way to reach your clients. As with any marketing method, it’s easy for the messaging to feel spammy or canned. When you give SMS marketing a try, make sure to allot plenty of time for crafting your messages and making them sound natural.

Customer Service Chatbots

We live in an age where talking to robots is routine. Whether it was a customer service inquiry or request for more information, you’ve likely utilized an AI-powered chat feature online.

Chatbots, or sometimes called conversational AI platforms, save your sales team time and simplify the contact process. Typically a website’s contact page includes a form or an email address to contact. The initiative is completely on the customer to reach out and explain themselves. With a chatbot, the little floating bubble invites customers to easily inquire with just a few clicks. In customer service cases, the chatbot can ask a few questions before routing the question to the correct team member.

Plus, implementing a chatbot means potentially more data for lead generation. One small business owner said he has seen a drop in email queries since implementing a chatbot. Instead his sales managers are spending their valuable time following-up on leads from the conversational chat platform.

Smart Calendaring

Cut back on client no-shows by inviting them to schedule through a calendaring system. Appointment scheduling software integrates with your digital calendar and allows you to set your availability. Then, through one permalink, clients can reserve time on your calendar without a lengthy email exchange. Once scheduled, both you and the client receive notification and reminders. Say goodbye to double-bookings and missed meetings.

As you’re evaluating new software for your business, make sure to consider the existing contracts you hold. The crisis at hand provides a good opportunity to negotiate a lower rate for some of the services you’re already using.

» More TMCnet Feature Articles


» More TMCnet Feature Articles