The benefits of customer service training programs

As a business owner, dealing with the complaints, queries and even compliments of your customers can be daunting. Your staff might not have the necessary skills they need to properly handle these issues, which can cause customers to become dissatisfied and even cause loss of business.

With customer service training, you can avoid these problems and deliver the perfect customer experience. If you are still unsure of how these programs can help your business succeed, read on below for just some of the benefits of customer service training.

Higher employee motivation and engagement

Providing proper training for your staff will help them to realise the impact that their role has on the organisation. This will improve their motivation and will help them to properly engage with the customers who phone in with issues.

As customer service agents are exposed to the emerging trends of the industry, they can apply these methodologies to their customer interactions and help to give your business an edge on the competition. By sending your staff on courses, you are showing them that you care about their development which will improve their motivation and their morale.

Customer service skills will improve

As with any customer service training programs, your staff will find their skills improving. This is highly beneficial to both your staff and your company because not only will your staff have better skills, but your customers will have better experiences too.

Customer service training focuses on skills such as communication, listening, problem-solving and organisational skills as well as the ability to handle working under stress. Having these skills will not only enable them to handle customer issues easily but will also help them to build up their careers from strength to strength. Having staff with strong customer service skills will boost your business too, which is a major advantage to these training programs.

Increased customer satisfaction

Any business owner knows that customer satisfaction is one of the most important aspects of running a business. If your customers are unhappy, they will look elsewhere for products and services. Providing excellent customer service is a sure-fire way to increase their satisfaction and loyalty to your brand.

If your customers know that their issues will be met with speedy and helpful replies, they will be less likely to look elsewhere for products and services. You will need to ensure that your staff adheres to what they were taught on the customer service training courses in order to reap the most benefits. You could provide each person with a manual so that they can refer back to what they were taught in case of a difficult customer complaint or query.

Improved customer loyalty

Customers have a plethora of options at their fingertips. And one of the many deciding factors when it comes to choosing a supplier or vendor is the customer service that the company delivers. You might have the most fabulous products on the market, but if your customer service is lacking, you won’t sell a lot of products.

If you rely solely on discounts and special offers, you will not have as many customers as you hoped. But if you focus on customer service, your business will grow tenfold. This is why sending your employees on a professional training program is so helpful. They will learn the basics of customer service as well as more advanced techniques of handling customers. This will help to improve customer loyalty and ultimately boost your profits.

Your brand’s image will improve

Organisations that have effective customer service have a much better brand image than those who do not. Customers want to do business with brands who take customer service seriously, and employees want to work for these brands.

Retaining talent is vital to keeping your business afloat and your consumers happy. Training your staff is a direct reflection of how important they are to you, which will impress consumers as well as make your employees happy. Having a positive brand image will also give you an edge over the competition, as you will be showing consumers that they are important to you and that making money comes secondary.

Increased profit

As a business owner, you know that increasing your profit will allow you to continue operating at the level you need to succeed. Good customer service will bring in new customers and will retain your current ones. This will lead to a marked increase in your profits.

An increase in profit will also enable you to send any new staff for customer service training so they are up to speed with all the business processes. Profit is often something that comes from unexpected places, one of which is customer service. If you provide your customers with outstanding service, your business will improve tenfold and will soon beat out the competition.

 

Five types of marketing to invest in for your small business

As a small business owner, you know how important it is to market your business. You need to engage potential clients and retain your current ones. But it can be difficult to know exactly what type of marketing you should use to do so, especially if you are new to the world of business ownership.

If you have applied for business finance in South Africa you will need to start creating a marketing strategy from the get go. Not sure where to start? Below are the five types of marketing to invest in for your small business.

Google AdWords

Google Adwords is one of the smartest ways to use your marketing moolah. While you should try to improve your organic reach results using SEO (search engine optimisation) tactics, AdWords can certainly give you a leg up on the competition, especially when it comes to digital marketing.

Google searches are one of the top ways in which customers find your business online. Which means that spending money on an AdWords campaign is extremely effective. Be warned that AdWords is not an “autopilot” way of advertising, you will need to monitor your campaigns and make changes when necessary. While it might be costly, it is a marketing strategy that will pay off in the end.

Facebook advertising

Did you know that almost two million small businesses pay to advertise on Facebook? It is one of the most inexpensive and effective ways to reach an audience that is interested in what you have to offer. And, almost everyone uses social media these days, so your customers are guaranteed to see your adverts.

Facebook ads excel at advanced targeting, which means that you can set up the demographics of who you want to see the ads, such as certain age groups, geographic locations, online behaviours and much more. For a small business that has just taken out business financing in South Africa, the affordability of Facebook advertising makes sense. All you need is a solid headline, some good descriptive wording, an inviting image and the right link.

Printed business cards

Many entrepreneurs feel that, because the world has become so focused on digital technology, printed marketing is no longer relevant. However, this could not be further from the truth. Business cards are affordable to print and you can create a truly unique design for yours using free software or by asking a professional designer.

Not only can you give clients and customers your business card, but you can also give them to potential business partners at networking events. You will need to ensure that your card design is relevant to your company and that your details are clear and easy to see. Be creative and think out of the box, for example, if you are a small artisanal doughnut store then design round business cards that look like the doughnuts you have on offer.

Email marketing

Email marketing is still one of the most effective ways to market to clients. And, if you are using business financing in South Africa, it is an option that will suit any budget. Email marketing is relatively simple to use and there are several software options on the market.

It is effective for small businesses especially because you will be able to reach an audience who is already interested in your products or services, those who subscribed to your emails in the first place. You will need to ensure that you send these emails at the right time of day so as not to annoy people and only send to those who have opted-in to the subscription.

Google My Business

For small businesses hoping to make a mark, Google My Business is one of the best types of marketing to invest in. It is completely free and is easy to use. All you need to do is provide your up-to-date contact details and allow the system to combine all of your information such as your Google+ profile, Google Maps profile, your Google reviews and more.

Ranking your Google My Business listing is one of the most important things you can do for your business, as this will allow it to show up in Google search results when someone searches for the product or service you offer. For example, if someone searches for “pet stores Cape Town”, they will see Google My Business listings before organic search results. Having your business in these first listings is imperative to boosting any small business.

Think smart for your business

Marketing strategies are highly important for any small business, especially if you will be using your business finance in South Africa for part of your marketing budget. With the innovations of technology, there are easy and affordable marketing methods you can use for your small business, such as Google My Business, Facebook advertising and Google AdWords.

You can also go the more traditional route and print out business cards to hand out to clients and at networking events. Be sure that whatever type of marketing you use, it is relevant to your business, easy-to-use and will not break the bank.

What qualifications to offer your staff to boost your B-BBEE scorecard

Training your staff is important, not only for your business success, but also for their own personal gain. However, many business owners offer training in order to improve their B-BBEE ratings, which can help to build a business and its reputation. You will also find that, if you are a B2B company, your relationships improve as your B-BBEE rating does.

If you are interested in offering qualifications to boost your B-BBEE scorecard, you might be finding it difficult to figure out where to even start. Below are just some of the qualifications you can offer your staff that will benefit you both.

Business administration

Administrative tasks are the bane of every business owner’s existence, so why not train your staff to undertake these tasks with accuracy and efficiency. Business administration qualifications also contribute to improving your B-BBEE scorecard, as they allow your staff to work their way towards a National Certificate in Business Administration Services: NQF Level 5.

Your employees will learn how to manage records accurately, how to communicate clearly in both written and verbal communication, how to solve problems effectively as well as gather some much-needed financial and bookkeeping knowledge. If you want help in running your business effectively, a business administration course is the best option for you.

Generic management

One of the best qualifications you can offer to boost your B-BBEE scorecard is a generic management qualification. Courses for team leaders, or for potential leaders, shows that you are serious about helping your employees develop their skills, and will help to raise your company’s B-BBee level.

In a generic management course, your employees will learn how to initiate, develop, implement and evaluate operational strategies and projects. This is highly valuable if you have several departments that need guidance on difficult projects. They will also learn how to manage projects successfully as well as how to communicate effectively. Having a manager who can deal with stress and who can understand clients’ needs is crucial to any successful business.

Contact centre support

Another course which will help to boost your B-BBEE scorecard is call centre support or contact centre support. This course will help your staff to reach a Contact Centre National Certificate at NQF Level 2, which will help them to develop the skills they need to improve their productivity and efficacy.

A contact centre support qualification will teach your staff how to deal with customers on the phone in a polite and effective manner, which can also help you to boost business. It will also teach them how to gather and enter data into reports and spreadsheets, an effective tool for your marketing team to tap into. For entry-level workers, this qualification will also improve their chances of moving up the corporate ladder.

New venture creation

Now, this might sound like a confusing qualification to give your staff but it will, in fact, improve your business as well as boost your B-BBEE scorecard. A new venture creation course will provide your staff with the ability to identify, develop and manage a new venture within your business.

The ability to think creatively and manage this new project will help your staff to understand your business better. They will be able to bring in more revenue for your business by finding new ventures and projects to invest in, and their management skills will improve too. They will also develop an understanding of basic economics within a market economy, a skill that can help them to succeed in whatever industry they choose.

Computer training

The world is becoming digital, and your employees will need to keep up with the trends. Sending your staff for computer training will not only benefit them by introducing them to new skills but will improve your B-BBEE scorecard as it is a skills development qualification.

Skills development qualifications are important to improving your rating but they also help your employees to grow and develop in your company. Computer training will teach them the basics of how to use a computer in daily life such as typing, sending and receiving emails and how to research on the internet. They will receive a qualification from the course which will help to improve their CV and which will reflect positively on you as an employer.

Skills development is key

The best way to boost your B-BBEE scorecard is to invest in skills development qualifications, such as induction training courses for team leaders and courses that improve your employees’ careers. These courses include generic management, business administration, new venture creation and even contact centre support. Whatever courses you choose to offer your staff, not only will your B-BBEE rating improve, but your business and your employees will thank you by growing tenfold and beating the competition.

 

Easy ways to start your tech business

Technology is ever-changing and developing, which means that it will always be a relevant market and industry to work in. If you have an interest in technology and want to work for yourself, you’ll be happy to know that it can be relatively easy to start your own tech business.

There are a few things you’ll need to know about starting a business, like funding for small businesses, for example. But, once you have the outline and know-how, you’ll be on your way to running a successful tech company.  

With a business premise

You can’t start a business without a plan. Well, you might be able to but that’s certainly not the easy way to start it. You need to have a business premise from which you will base the rest of your business decisions on.

To obtain a business premise, you need to evaluate your skills and offerings to see whether or not you’re able to deliver a viable product or service in the technology industry. This should be easy as you likely already had a business idea in mind before you even came looking for start-up advice.

All you need to do now is add to it and make sure it’s a solid foundation for a tech business plan. To do this, create core business goals that you’d like to reach within a realistic time frame. This will also give your start-up a direction and make it easier to operate.

With business financing

You want to finalise your business premise first because it makes the rest of the business processes easier. Like with finding small business loans in South Africa, for example. Business financing is a crucial step in starting any business and you’ll most certainly need it in order to invest the best technologies and equipment into your business.

More than just equipment, you’ll require business financing for your business location, employees, marketing, product development and other business operations. It might be possible to start a tech company without any money, but it’s definitely easier to start your tech company by applying for small business funding online and being granted business finance that way. It’s a quick, easy and effortless process that will ensure your business will have what it needs to grow and be successful.

Without small business financing, you’re going to struggle to keep your start-up company from going under. After a year of business, you should be able to see exactly which parts of your business need monetary assistance and where business financing can help.

With the right equipment

If you want your business to start off smoothly, make sure you invest in the best equipment and technology to run your tech company. The quality of your equipment won’t only allow you to provide a quality service, but customers would be more inclined to choose your up-to-date-with-tech business as opposed to competitors which use older software to save themselves money.

If you want to be the best in the business, you need to have the best equipment and that is going to cost you. But that’s what small business financing is for. As long as you work hard to make a return on your business finance investment, your company will succeed.

With talented employees

Working alone is possible, but it’s difficult. You hold every responsibility and have to limit the amount of business you do because you’re restricted by your personal capacity. Your innovation is also limited to what you can come up with on your own. If you want business to be easier, you’re going to need a few talented employees to collaborate with and divide business opportunities amongst.

You’ll also make it less stressful for yourself and more successful for the business if there are more minds and hands involved. You can make use of your business finance to secure top-talent employees for your tech business, to help it become successful. And quickly.

With marketing efforts  

And the last aspect of starting a tech business is by investing in digital marketing campaigns. You won’t be a start-up success if no-one knows about your company. And you don’t want to make the same mistake as most business owners who ignore the value of marketing a company, building a brand and managing a reputation.

Your marketing budget will be one of the most important business budgets, as it will be used to find clients and build relationships with your audiences. This is where you build the hype to your grand opening and (hopefully) line up meetings before you’ve even opened your doors. This type of awareness is a great start for any business as you will be able to see how business will go and when you’ll be able to pay off your business financing and focus on profit.

With this insight, it really can be easy to start a tech company.

How to ensure your startup is a success

Every day there are hundreds of thousands of startups which open their doors and hope to succeed. But with a sea of competitive ideas, there’s a differentiating factor between those which fail and those which succeed. It’s always tricky taking a leap of faith, but to succeed, you need to have that “X” factor.

Not every thriving startup is supported by investors. Success is about the habits you develop in your startup to (hopefully) achieve greatness. But either way, whether you’re supported by venture capitalists or not, a successful business takes dedication to keep your business relevant and competitive. It also requires an effort to attend innovation and tech conferences in Africa to see what trends are out there.

Here are a few tips to consider when looking to increase the odds of your startup’s success.

Start with a clear purpose

You constantly need to focus on your goals to ensure that you’re working towards them. Have one core idea, without feeling the need to focus on several areas of your business. This is the quickest way to lose focus of your purpose and forget the reason behind your startup dream. You need to stay committed to one idea and constantly work at bettering it to meet the needs of your customers. If you have a clear understanding of where you’re headed, you will always be able to measure your performance.

Take advantage of different challenges

When most startups open their doors, they tend to have a niche market they want to explore. Usually, you specialise in certain areas that you’re confident in. And you try to keep within those boundaries. While this is the safe way to do business, startup owners need to take advantage of difficult challenges. These are the projects that are going to differentiate you against your competitors. Try not to limit yourself to what you do, without trying to succeed in other areas. If you don’t take the opportunity to develop your skills and grow your business offerings, you’re going to be overtaken by other companies which are willing to test their limits. You need to be open to innovation. After all, you are a startup. People will understand a mistake on something you’re not a professional at far more than if you were a massive corporate company.

Include innovation in your business plan

You need to embrace the latest digital technologies to help improve your business. And you can find out more about this by speaking to influential leaders in the industry or by attending tech startup conferences near you. It’s important to note that successful business owners have a clear understanding of who their customers are and what they want. It’s about being able to identify their pain points and structure your approach to solve those pain points. If you’re able to provide a product or service that really adds value to your customers’ lives, you will constantly be able to build around that foundation. There are so many entrepreneurs in the world with brilliant ideas and expertise. The ones who succeed are the ones who are willing to go out of their comfort zone to try new things and educate themselves about the market.

Build a diverse team

As a startup owner, you need to hire people to assist you. It’s impossible to wear several hats for a long period of time as you will not be able to touch on everything. This may even lead to burnout. So, the beauty with hiring talent in the startup space is the ability to offer people opportunities based on their skills, not necessarily their experience. You are able to mould someone into the ideal employee you want. It’s also important to hire employees out of absolute necessity as you don’t want to over capitalise on your overhead expenses. You also need to focus your energy on hiring diverse employees.

Seek funding where needed

The reality of any startup is that you need capital. You need money to build your business and to keep it afloat. Often times, businesses think that they can keep themselves going as long as possible before they seek funding. But that is usually too late. You need to realise that success doesn’t happen overnight. Most startup companies give themselves two to three years before they see a difference. And, unfortunately, not every company is able to wait that long to see the return on investment (ROI) on their bottom line.

Be patient. Always.

On the back of the previous point, you need to be patient and you need to be motivated by the right things. By this, it means that you need to have a clear understanding of what you want. Of course, every business owner is motivated by money. But think about other motivating factors during this time. For example, your reputation, your idea (and how it’s impacted your customers’ lives) and your growth potential. Focus on the positive, and encourage your team to learn new skills to help make your business more resilient. Visit technology conferences and digital marketing talks where you will learn from other startups. The vision you have for your business is going to take dedication and plenty of hard work.