By Aaron Lumnah, Senior Manager Marketing Demand Generation
Growing a small and medium sized enterprise (SME) is never an easy task, especially in the tough economic times we currently face. The recent COVID-19 crisis created havoc for businesses of all sizes, and in every industry sector. But as things begin to return to a state of normalcy, the focus now is all about getting business back on track and evaluating how to apply the operational lessons learned during lockdown.
Many SMEs have demonstrated impressive determination and skill pivoting their business models at speed during the recent pandemic. Businesses that previously relied on foot traffic visiting their physical locations suddenly had to embrace new digital channels to serve customers confined to shopping from home. Others faced the task of ramping up their pre-existing online and digital channel presence and mobilising their teams to work remotely to support customers, process orders and take payments.
Preparing for a Sustainable Recovery
One thing is for sure. With so many consumers likely to continue to utilise their phones, tablet devices and home computers to interact with the outside world for the foreseeable future, many SMEs will be putting their foot to the pedal where digital transformation plans are concerned.
As many businesses have discovered, embracing new technologies can help them ‘take on the big boys’ , simply by using platforms like Google and Facebook to tap into localised customer demand for their products and services. But thriving and surviving depends on responding to consumers directly and quickly – and making transactions as seamless and frictionless as possible.
Let’s take a look at three ways businesses of all sizes can compete against the largest enterprise organisations and grow their revenues.
1. Take Advantage of Social Media Platforms to Create Digital Storefronts
Bolstering operations to maximise business-as-usual capabilities, whatever the disruption, means many businesses are now looking for cost-effective ways to establish a permanent online sales presence.
Facebook has recently introduced a new feature for SMEs that want to create an online digital storefront. Accessible via both Facebook and Instagram, customers can message a business using WhatsApp, Messenger or Instagram Direct to ask questions, get support, track deliveries and more.
Meanwhile, in the US, Google has made it free for merchants to list products on Google Shopping. It also launched a new app within Shopify to give merchants a quick way to upload catalogues to Pinterest and turn their products into shoppable Pins.
For those SMEs that want a low-cost way to launch their digital shops and get in front of consumers 24×7, these and other platforms offer huge potential and opportunity.
2. Make Customer Service a USP
Customer experience is fast becoming a key way to differentiate a business from the competition – and generate greater revenue. Research confirms that 86% of customers are willing to pay more for a great customer experience. Plus, they are more likely to buy more and make impulse purchases after receiving a more personalised experience. Indeed, according to the experts, by the end of 2020 customer experience is set to overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator that’s important for customers.
Many smaller businesses know that excellent personalised customer service is the key to out-performing larger companies, which find it difficult to know and respond to the unique and individual needs of customers.
Good customer service depends on first understanding what customers expect from you – using surveys, web forms or Net Promoter Score (NPS) programs to follow up with customers and capture their opinions. As a result, you can constantly evolve how you deliver a predictable and positive experience that keeps customers loyal.
3. Making Customer Payments Secure and Easy
Today’s customers expect to encounter optimised and secure payment processes that make their interactions with brands as seamless and possible, especially over the phone.
For SMEs that need to get their business omnichannel ready, making it easy to accept credit and debit card transactions over the telephone, and other channels, and in a way that keeps them compliant with GDPR, PSD2 and PCI DSS and other requirements should be a top priority.
The good news is that it is now easy and affordable for SMEs to take advantage of an enterprise-grade security and data protection payment solution for their business. For example, Semafone’s Cardprotect Voice+ can now be deployed directly from the cloud to eliminate the risks and vulnerabilities associated with telephone-based payment environments.
Ideal for businesses that have anything from 1 to 200 people who need to handle remote customer payments, Semafone’s cloud-powered solution makes it easy to take care of customer security , ensure compliance with PCI DSS and eliminate payment pain points that can get in the way of delivering great customer service.