More than 200,000 small businesses in Canada are at risk of closing their doors permanently due to the pandemic. 

What is the biggest contributing factor to that trend? We are!

People are not interacting with each other like they used to. More and more, we are leaning on technology and virtual systems to allow us to keep in touch and maintain our lifestyles. The landscape of the way we do business has completely shifted, and those companies who haven’t been able to adapt will, unfortunately, be left behind. 

Don’t worry. You’d be surprised how easily adaptable any business can be and how fast you can implement changes like installing an online payment processing tool or setting up an online booking option.

Let’s dive into why introducing social media, online systems, and customer relationship software into your business will have an immediate return on investment.

One hyperresponsive social media account

Today, social media accounts are a must for every business. They create credibility, instill trust and help promote your brand. As a small business owner, trying to manage a Facebook page, Instagram profile, Twitter feed, LinkedIn persona, Pinterest photos, Tiktok videos, and Reddit forums sounds impossible. Well, you’re right, it is impossible if you try to do it by yourself. 

So, what do you do? You pick a platform to focus on and give it your all.

You may be asking yourself, where do I even start?

The most important decision to make is what platform your target audience is the most active on. For example, if you own a restaurant, you probably don’t want to focus on Twitter. Instagram would be the right move.

Second, make sure that your branding is cohesive everywhere on the page. You’ll want to take some time to think about the tone and feel of your company’s message. Are you happy and upbeat or more professional and driven? The biggest question here is what will resonate the most with your audience?

Your business’s logo and colour scheme are important as well—just what the logo or colouring actually looks like, but also that they are consistent across your page.

Lastly, be engaging and be yourself. Respond to every comment. That alone can have a major impact on your customers. A well-crafted and thoughtful response creates a sense of care in your clients’ eyes. They feel special and important when you take the time to interact with them. This is an extremely cost-effective way to build trust and loyalty with potential customers.

Proactively engage with other accounts in your audience’s community. This doesn’t mean you should be spammy and overload them with a features and benefits pitch. It means you should provide educational and entertaining content that adds value to your customers’ lives. Build trust first, then offer your solution. 

Social media is just that—a chance to be social and show your audience the people behind the business. People buy a feeling, and more often than not, that feeling comes from other people tapping into that for them.

One last thing to consider that many companies overlook is internal links. Wherever a customer clicks on your page, it needs to redirect properly and to a relevant page associated with your company. The amount of times I have clicked a broken link on a company’s page is shocking, and I immediately lose attention and move on.

Online payments, ordering, and scheduling

Converting company payments, ordering systems, or appointment schedulers to an online platform can be a massive game-changer for many small businesses. The great thing today is that you don’t need a huge capital or time investment to make the change. Getting set up for online payments or scheduling has never been easier.

Online payments

Options like Square, Stripe, or at the very least, e-transfer are great payment options for small business owners as they are cost-friendly and so easy to set up. 64% of Americans make impulse buys once a month when shopping online. Without an online payment option, you’re essentially stopping the growth of your business dead in its tracks. If the option to buy isn’t available to the customer when they want it, you lose them. The impulse has faded, and the consumer has moved on to your competitors.

Online Ordering

An online ordering system is the modern version of a shopping cart. Your customers need a place where they can hold all of their soon-to-be purchases as they browse for more. The system you need will depend on the type of business you’re in. A healthcare professional selling supplements or even a small business owner who runs a small shop would benefit from a platform like Shopify. This type of platform creates a positive user experience and overall interaction with your business, leading to repeat purchases and an increase in brand loyalty.

Online Scheduling

For service-based businesses, online scheduling systems are crucial to increasing conversions and stimulating your company’s growth. Software like Calendly for a consultant or a tool like JaneApp for a healthcare professional can help streamline how your clients connect with you. Providing them with the freedom to book their own appointments gives the impression that you’re working around their schedule. But in reality, you’ve pre-set a schedule that’s convenient for you. Virtual appointment setting is something every small business needs.

Customer Relationship Management Software (CRM)

I can promise you right now that a properly executed CRM is one of the best investments a small business owner can make today. A great CRM is like a home’s foundation; it supports all activities happening above, but no one can see it. 

Beginning the search for the right CRM is extremely daunting. The number of choices alone could stop you before you even begin. So I want to help you navigate through the noise with a few tips on nailing down the right system. 

First, map your current workflow. Having a visual breakdown of how you currently manage your pipeline will allow you to see the bottlenecks in your process and better search for the features you need in a CRM to improve your company systemization.

Second, create a must-have list of the features you need. That can include workflow automation, online schedulers, email templates, task reminders, or even quote creators.

Third, take advantage of free demos! Many SaaS companies offer two-week free trials or even a free version with limited features. Hubspot is great for this as they give you just enough features to get a feel for how their software works. Streak is also another great option built right into Gmail so you can manage everything without ever leaving your inbox!

When it comes to a CRM platform, the main question to ask yourself is: Will this allow me to easily communicate with my clients and give them a better experience with my company?

Wrapping up

Shifting your business into the digital landscape is not about making sure you have every software available with all the bells and whistles; it is simply about adapting to the shift in consumer’s preferences and how they interact with different companies. 

Consumers want simplicity when choosing products and services to purchase. An online scheduler or a great social account may be all you need to reduce the barriers for your clients to interact with you. The most important thing to remember about business is that it’s the people that keep it going. The only thing a new software can do is help you better bridge the gap with your customers because everything begins and ends with them.

The most important thing you can do right now is start thinking about your customers and how they want to interact with you. Once you know what that looks like, find the solution and get to work! 

If you’d like to discuss how Smiledog can help support your business’s ongoing growth and customer service delivery, schedule a call so we can figure out what solutions will work best for you.