Along with the introduction of the plural generation, mobile payments and pre-election year politics, 2015 also promises more development of the “internet of things”, a concept that small business owners may or may not be already familiar with. According to a Wired.com article on the IoT, the name refers to the increasing spread of networks as well as the proliferation of “smart” devices capable of using the internet to receive and collect information, bridging the gap between the internet and the physical world. How does the internet of things relate to small business? There are many ways that businesses both large and small could be changed by the increasing connection between the web, interenet enabled devices and people in the next few years. Here are a couple that business owners should take into account. Mobile payment technologies. The news that Apple will be moving into the mobile payment space brought the possibility of widely adopted seamless payments back into focus, as the challenge of balancing retailer concerns

The first impression that you make is an incredibly powerful and long lasting thing. Whether for good or for bad, people will arrive at assumptions in a short period of time that can be hard to shake going forward, making it much more practical for a business owner to try and take charge of the first interactions they have with clients through a smooth onboarding process as opposed to possibly fighting an uphill battle after a rocky start. While a first impression is a major factor in creating a relationship, the follow up is also highly important. Did you make a great impression on your client, and now they are excited to work with you? Great, then you need to actively take steps to preserve that goodwill so that it has the potential to ripen into more business, positive reviews and potentially ever referrals for more business. The ability to gain referrals is especially important for your business’s ability to continue growing. Having a stable client

Texting is a form of communication that, while it might elicit an eye roll from purists, has become a ubiquitous feature of our culture in a relatively short period of time. Not only that, but thanks to the prominence of mobile technology, text messages more often than not are opened and read by recipients as soon as they are received. Because of this, business owners can use them to effectively deliver news about limited time offers or other deals to their customers using a medium that is cheap enough to fine tune through a little trial and error. With an opt-in, text message lists can become highly effective tools for reaching targeted groups of customers. Through a double opt in process, you can begin to create a list of numbers for customers interested in being directly contacted regarding limited time offers and deals for your business. Using multiple venues for capturing customer information, from your website, sign ups in you location, as well as through other

Small business owners fight hard for their customers, and because of this, they often develop strong personal relationships with them that can last for years. However, one error that small business owners sometimes make is assuming that their customers will support them indefinitely, slacking on their efforts to attract new business and build the reach of their brand. Falling into the trap of working with a single big customer to the detriment of others is something that can befall business owners when they are trying to win a large client with great service, and in the same way that can happen, a group of regular customers can diffuse a business owner’s resolve to acquire new clients. If you lose a major customer, how much of your revenues would disappear? Look at your numbers and determine just how big a portion of your business is represented by your best customers. The larger the share, the more important it is that you cover yourself by attracting more. A

  A new customer is usually full of enthusiasm for your business, without knowing exactly how our service or product will stack up in general they are ready for the best even if experience tells them to be prepared for the worst. There is something about a new relationship that is still undefined which carries the feeling of limitless possibilities. Smart business owners will realize that during this special time they have the greatest ability to shape the perceptions that their customers have of their brand, and should act accordingly to put their best foot forward during the onboarding process. One simple, yet highly effective way to do this is to remember the way that you would act in any normal exchange; say thank you. A thank you reminds your customers that you care about them and the success of your relationship. While setting up a thank you package is actually pretty simple, and if you are using crm tools can actually be automatically triggered as

  Timing is something that is easy to understand, yet often very difficult to handle effectively on a repeatable basis. That being stated, the effectiveness of copy can vary greatly depending on the stage at which an prospective lead is introduced to it. Take for example an onboarding letter that would have been welcomed by a new customer. While potentially useful at the beginning of a lead pipeline, it is likely to be ignored after arriving a week after the fact, and while this may seem like an extreme example of how timing can go wrong, it’s not so far fetched to assume that  the margin of time outside of which copy loses its peak efficiency is more slim than that. Setting up the means to quickly deliver pertinent information and then grow a burgeoning relationship through interpersonal interaction allows business owners to move their businesses forwards with a focus on retaining as much business as possible. Automated emails are a good way to ensure

  When it comes to offering support for small business customers, the most immediate means of getting into contact with your customers can often be the best. Especially on websites dedicated to e-commerce, having the ability to instantly offer customized guidance and support for those who are visiting is a very powerful tool for preventing lost business as well as increasing customer satisfaction. Customer support is one of the most important areas to pay attention to, since it is the satisfaction of your customers that will drive the word of mouth exposure that many businesses rely on to grow. Towards furthering this goal, having on page chat support on your site can help reduce the number of potential sales that you miss out on as well as provide an convenient means to troubleshoot basic support issues. Maintaining a strong standard of etiquette on a chat client is just as important as any other support channel. When using chat as a support tool, the need to respond in a

When customers are able to engage with their favorite brands, it can be a very special thing. A brand can mean a lot to a person for a lot of different reasons, and when a relationship with a favorite business carries deeper meaning for a customer, they should be respected as a valuable source of insight both when it comes to customer service and product direction, as well as looked to to identify good things about a business that the owner of the business may not even realize themselves. In the internet age, the tendency to remix, repackage and reinvent has translated into a vibrant opportunity for brands who are able to tap into these impulses on the part of their customers. While poor customer service has the potential to kill a business, positive customer experiences and outreach can unlock a wealth of positive development for business owners and their customers alike. Create a directive for your customers to respond to. While your customers might be

  Would you ever turn away a customer? While conventional business wisdom holds that the customer is always right, like so many things in business there are clear exceptions to this rule. Customer relationships that turn sour can create major sources of stress for small business owners, but apart from that, can also place major drains on finite time and capital that can be tough to recover from if allowed to get out of hand. Identify if your customer relationship makes sense, or if you are stretching to accommodate for a poor fit. Common problems that can arise because of a toxic customer relationship including scrambling to accommodate for a customer that simply isn’t asking for services or products within the realm of what your business is able to offer. While you may have some strongly performing products and others that don’t perform as well in terms of sales, you offer what you offer and constantly stretching outside the bounds of what you typically produce for

Customer service is a hugely important part of running a business, since it is directly related to making sure that your customers are getting what they expect from you, and if not, are having their issues addressed, preventing them from taking steps such as leaving negative reviews or spreading their grievances through word of mouth. While maintaining a strong level of service, business owners should be aware of the types of issues that customers really dislike that can make them more likely to take negative actions. Not being able to get in touch with anyone. When a customer has an issue, one of the worst feelings is when they are unable to get in touch with anyone from the business in question in order to fix it. Having poor quality customer service reps on the phone is arguably better than having frustrated customers hit a voice-mail or  send emails that never get answered. Ignoring complaints is a surefire way to turn a minor customer service issue

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