YourBusinessWithJamesCaan2016 - 86

IMPROVING EFFICIENCY

The advances in technology have made
many business processes cheaper and
quicker. Things that once required a
paid staff member can now be
automated. For example, your
customers can use the internet to place
and cancel orders without an employee
being involved. This automation also
means you can hire specialised staff
who add real value to your business.
Staff can also work remotely,
eliminating some of the infrastructure
costs associated with hiring. There used
to be a time where the cost of an
employee was more than just their
salary and national insurance - you
also had to factor in the cost of setting
them up with a desk, landline and
computer, which can now be reduced.
In addition, thanks to cloud storage,
people can access files from pretty
much anywhere via the internet. This
increases the productivity and efficiency
of your business tenfold - gone are the
days when things could only get done
while people were in the office.
Now orders can be checked while
you're having your breakfast and emails
can be answered while you're on the top
deck of the bus.

TO REACH MORE CUSTOMERS

One of the biggest changes telecoms has
made to business is allowing firms to
reach more customers no matter where
they are. Queries can be resolved over
the phone or online via emails, live
chats and virtual meetings. This
requires fewer resources from a
business perspective and also means
customers get a quicker response.
From a marketing perspective, you
can now build a more visible, public
brand, and reach a bigger audience,
thanks to social media and email.
It is worth investing in a tailored
email program such as Mailchimp,
which can automate messages to your
list and analyse click-through rates.
Another avenue is to record films or
webinars and make these available to
customers and/or prospects - this is a

86

The phone is still a
very direct way of
getting in touch

good example of keeping the human
touch but reaching more people.

PAY AS YOU GO

The actual sales process itself has also
become much more straightforward
thanks to card processing technology
and phone payment solutions.
Over the last two years the number of
contactless transactions has increased
drastically - over one billion purchases
were made using contactless in 2015
and shoppers now use the technology
for one in eight transactions - a rapid
uptake for a technology only introduced
in 2007.
Contactless sometimes incurs
transaction fees, so check those out
before you dive in- in some cases these
can be negotiated with the payment
provider, so ensure that you are not
paying over the odds and cutting into
your margins. Also think about your
business requirements - do you need
terminals to be portable or is a fixed
one adequate?
The concepts of speed and security
also apply to online point of sale.
Investing in a secure online transaction
facility will ensure you keep up in the
fast-moving customer landscape that
appears to be changing by the month.
Don't forget the basics: how best does
it fit in with your existing systems,
particularly your website?

POINT OF SALE PAYMENTS

Your point of sale is the final and one of
the most important stages of the
customer journey.
But choosing the right system can be
overwhelming, especially when you
need to prioritise user experience,
security and cost.
The best systems should do more
than just accept payments.
When you're looking at your options,
focus on ones that come with extra
features such as inventory management,
reporting tools, customer data
gathering, and other things which
will save you time and support
your business.
Research the provider and see if they
have dealt with your sector before - if
they have done so successfully then this
is a definite tick.
They should also provide a dedicated
customer service team, and things such
as staff training and installation should
be included in the package.
Finally, remember customer
preferences are constantly evolving
and both Apple and Android Pay are
expected to become more widely used
in the next few years.
Rather than going for a cheaper
option and having to play catch-up,
ensure that your solution accepts these
mobile payments from the word go.
Then you'll be ahead of the game.

WORDS: NILESH PANDEY | PHOTOGRAPHY: SHUTTERSTOCK

These resources are also far more cost
effective than, for example, posting out
surveys or conducting focus groups.



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