3 Areas of Your Small Business That Need Enterprise-Level Treatment
Small businesses are famous for their ability to run lean and mean. They can operate with pinpoint-focused precision and can cater to very specific audience demographics.
However, just because small businesses have the ability to run small doesn’t mean they should approach everything with that philosophy. Here are three areas that require bigger, enterprise-level attention and treatment if a small business wants to succeed.
1. Customer Service
It doesn’t matter if you’re running a hole-in-the-wall coffee shop or a multi-billion dollar corporation. When it comes to customer service, everything boils down to the same consideration: human interactions.
Now, just to be clear, small businesses already have an advantage in customer service in some areas. For instance, they can often offer intimate, laser-focused attention in their interactions with customers. Upper management is easily accessible, too.
However, there are other aspects of customer service that can be a bit more challenging for a small business to tap into. For instance, offering around-the-clock service or handling larger call volumes can be tough. In addition, managing to interact with customers via the wide variety of channels that they often prefer can be difficult.
Fortunately, modern technology has provided several ways for small businesses to not only think but also act like big corporations in these areas.
For instance, you can utilize a chatbot on your website. This is an automated “first line of defense” for your customer service team. It can remain up and running at all times, offering 24/7 customer service. A chatbot can also answer simple customer questions and help figure out who they should talk to if things get too complicated.
You can even take things a step further by utilizing software designed to create a full-blown virtual call center for small businesses. This removes the need for the expensive investment in hardware and IT services associated with larger call center operations. Instead, you’re able to tap into a cloud-based solution that helps you organize, oversee, and run your customer service in a single program.
It doesn’t matter if you’re addressing specific needs via something like a chatbot or more comprehensive elements, such as a cloud-based call center. In either case, it’s important to use the tools available to offer an elite, upper-tier customer service experience — no matter how big or small your enterprise.
2. Online Marketing
Marketing used to be a big company’s game. Everything from television commercials to radio ads to billboards was (and continues to be) expensive. Running promotions over a longer period of time, in particular, was not an option for smaller companies.
This left unpredictable channels like word-of-mouth marketing to help with critical elements like building brand awareness. While WOM marketing is still a critical part of any business’s success, technology has opened up the doors to a variety of other important online marketing channels in recent years, too.
Small businesses can exploit this new online marketing world to their advantage and, in the process, can often even go toe-to-toe with larger companies. Online marketing includes a wide variety of different channels, including:
- Email marketing;
- Social media marketing;
- Content marketing;
- Search engine optimization (SEO);
- Local SEO;
- Pay per click (PPC) advertising.
Many of these options are free or very affordable to access. With that said, they aren’t a magic bullet for all of a small business’s marketing woes and take a good amount of strategy to utilize.
For instance, it’s easy to spread yourself too thin by trying to take advantage of every single advertising opportunity. Sure, social media accounts are free, but that doesn’t mean you need to have a Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, TikTok, Instagram, and Pinterest account for your company. Instead, it’s important to look for the two or three platforms that will help you connect with your audience the most effectively.
The same can be said for something like email. Don’t pay for others’ email lists that reach random customer segments. Also, take care to avoid inundating your own email list with too many promotional emails. Content and SEO marketing require thoughtfulness, as well. They should target the right audience and provide real-world value for readers — i.e. don’t just write so that search engines will proliferate your content.
All of that to say, online marketing requires a clear and consistent strategy. This is especially true for small businesses that are working with minimal time and resources.
However, with a solid strategy in place, a small business is indeed able to tap into the power of marketing via the online format. If you can do that, you can give your small business an enterprise-level leg up as you cut through the white noise and speak directly to consumers who want to hear your message.
Finally, and in close association with online marketing, we have e-commerce. While online marketing focuses on promoting your company online, e-commerce is about letting your business operate online, as well.
E-commerce tends to focus on two areas: a functioning website and customer transactions. In fact, e-commerce giant Shopify defines the term as “the buying and selling of goods or services using the internet, and the transfer of money and data to execute these transactions,” adding that this applies to “any kind of commercial transaction that is facilitated through the internet.”
In other words, if you’re going to run a successful small business, you need to create a web presence where you can not only market yourself but complete financial transactions, as well. This can be for a physical product, a digital item, or even a service.
There are a few factors that should be considered when doing this. For instance, as you build your e-commerce site, you want it to be customer-focused. Lay things out in a manner that accommodates customers and helps guide them through the customer journey. You also want your site to be mobile-friendly, have clear pricing, and have an easy-to-use shopping cart.
Once again, technology has swooped in and made this aspect of business accessible for smaller businesses. There are many website-building tools that specialize in e-commerce and streamline the process. They also make it easier to keep your site updated and protected against cybercrime.
There are many aspects of business that smaller companies excel at. However, as the world continues to develop and technology takes hold, it’s important for small businesses to do their best to provide enterprise-level service whenever it’s applicable.
E-commerce, online marketing, and customer service are three areas where small business owners can easily up their game without losing the charm that helps them stand out from their big-box competitors.