By Tim Torian, Torian Group, Inc.
Here are some ideas you can use when thinking about your goals for the coming year. Information Technology is constantly changing. Regularly review your business plans to see how advances in IT might be put to work in your company.
Web and Email – Every credible company should have a business name which is related to their email address and web site, with a registered internet domain name. Your company logo and “look” should be consistent across all parts of the business. Take a look at your web site, and see if it still delivers the message you want it to. Make sure your business cards, correspondence, advertising, and email communications all convey your unique selling proposition – the reason you are in business.
Make sure your customers can find you on the web. Try searching for your business using likely keywords your customers would use.
Mobility – Use a phone which has contacts, calendar, and email with real time updates to your office. If you are a laptop user, get an air card or set up your cell phone to allow you a fast internet connection from anywhere. Review your work process to be sure you have access to information when you need it, in or out of the office. Consider building in web access in to your key information systems.
Customer Relations – Customer Relationship management products are now affordable for even very small businesses. Review what you want to know about your clients, and see if your procedures are delivering what they should. Develop quality of service metrics, and make sure you are tracking the key numbers that measure your success. At the very least, implement the Net Promoter Score (www.netpromoter.com), and have a way of assessing the lifetime value of each customer.
Build your community – Make sure you are communicating the right information at the right time to each customer. Take full advantage of email to communicate with customers at each step of the sales process.
Consider publishing an email newsletter if you have not already.
Supply chain – Many industries now have processes in place to avoid duplicate data entry. The ordering and inventory process can be integrated, so your systems know what your vendor knows about the products you sell or use. Office supply companies, phone companies, utilities, and many others all work with customers to provide bills and other data in a format that can be directly input into a your computer/accounting system. Direct payment is also available.
Training – Video and web based training tools are now affordable. Take a little time to produce training materials for employees, so it takes less staff time, is more consistent, and higher quality. Many industries have training materials you can adapt to your needs.
A little thought combined with current technology can sometimes provide rich dividends in improving your business.