Technology moves quickly in the business world, and customers expect businesses to keep up. From the increased prominence of social media to changes in the ways companies communicate with their customers, there are numerous trends to stay on top of that could have an impact on your bottom line.
How can companies stay up-to-date with current trends and customer expectations, while remaining organized? Here are three tips to help your business align with the marketplace and meet customers where they are.
Start a research routine
When you were starting your business, you probably included a market analysis in your business plan. That analysis might have included a description of all the factors that could impact your business, from financial market trends to local competitors.
Now that you’re up and running, it’s important to make that type of analysis a regular habit. Successful businesses keep watch on their competitors, customer demands and market trends, so they can make smart decisions about where to go next. Develop a research routine to stay informed about all the things that could help or hurt your business in its next phase. Your routine could include:
- Reading industry publications regularly to learn about new developments in your line of business.
- Making frequent visits to your competitors’ websites and social media channels to learn about their products and audience interactions.
- Monitoring your own social media accounts and customer service channels to spot common requests, complaints or suggestions for new products.
Make sure your research routine comes with some action. Every month or so, do an internal check of new elements in your competitive marketplace. Then, come up with a few small actions to address them.
Make the most of technology
Small businesses don’t have much room for error when it comes to testing new products or making marketing decisions. You need to make sure your next move is the right one, every time. That’s where data-based decisions come in.
Consider using CRM apps to collect and analyze key data about your business. These customer relationship management platforms are mobile-friendly. Not only do these apps help business owners keep detailed records, they allow employees to log important customer interactions, no matter where they are when those interactions happen.
Your sales force could take a client call while they’re working from home, then log that call in the CRM through an app. These services make it possible to keep excellent customer data while you’re on the go. They also offer easy-to-access analytics, so you can check in on sales trends and make marketing or other business decisions.
Realize the power of organization
No business owner wants to spend 30 minutes looking for a lost invoice or trying to track down an email reply. Sound organization is key to making sure you’re making the most out of every minute of your day.
Follow these steps to put a little more structure into your day:
- Take a to-do list and actually stick to it. Short-list the top five substantial things you need to accomplish in a day, and set about getting them done before you move on to other tasks.
- Accept help from technology. An app-based CRM can direct you to the accounts that need attention today. Use an online project management system to delegate tasks and stay in touch with your team.
- Reply to emails on a last-in, first-out basis. The emails at the top of your inbox are the most recent and are the most likely to contain issues that haven’t yet been resolved. Set aside specific times in your day to tackle email and dig into the most recent messages first.
With a few habits added to your daily routine, you can be on your way to having a better understanding of your business environment. Running a small business is no easy task. Rely on CRM services and other technology to keep your work organized and stay on top of business trends.