Tag Archives: small business

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.

Tips for creating a business idea that is fundable

Small business funding is a popular approach for entrepreneurs who do not have the finances to execute or maintain their business concept. With so many innovative ideas out there, applying for startup funding takes time, effort and determination. There are various conversations you need to consider when applying for funding. And before you can apply, you need to have a clear idea of what investors are looking for.

What do investors look for when it comes to startup funding?

In essence, there are various factors that come into play when someone is looking to invest in your business. From the expected return on investment (ROI) and turnover rate to the interest in your concept, your assets, liabilities and your market, this is a lengthy process, to say the least. Your personal credit score and finances are two elements that have the power to sway the conversation, meaning if they reflect positively to the potential investor, it will demonstrate your financial habits on a larger scale.

You will be required to pitch your funding application to a pool of investors or via a reputable financial firm, along with the supporting documentation which will summarise the numbers for the potential investor interested in learning more about your startup business. Should your concept and/or pitch be enough to showcase financial profitability and long-term success, you will become a potential candidate.

Here are a few tips and factors that will influence your ability to be funded as a startup founder:

  • Brainstorm specific problems and solutions

Investors are not looking for out-of-the-box ideas that have never been tried and tested. They’re looking for business ideas that are plug and play and serve a purpose for the public. Investors want to be able to see the profitability of an idea, and if they can see that your business idea has the potential to soar and add value, they’ll consider your application within reason. Do your research, speak to people in the industry and know your numbers. Should the investor be interested in learning more, they are going to ask you several questions, which is where your research comes into play.

  • Apply for funding only once you’re ready to scale your business

Do not consider funding if you have not started your business. Investors want to be involved in companies that are established and growing. While you might not have grown your bottom line as much as you’d hoped for by now, you need to try and test the market with your product. Try to ensure that you have a proper following and the ability to start a successful conversation. Applying for funding before any of this is a premature approach which might backfire. Funding is to be considered once you’ve established your position in the market and now want to grow and scale your business to meet your business’s needs.

  • Start with the simplest legal entity

You might have the vision of growing your business over the upcoming months, but increasing your shareholder amount will make the investment complex on your part. If you are registered as a sole proprietorship or partnership business, it will lower the liabilities and tax implications for investors. It’s best to invest as a one-man-band or a smaller entity to increase your chances of being considered.

  • Build your company and showcase your results

This does not mean that your startup business needs to be a thriving success. This certainly does not happen overnight either. It simply means that you need to have something to show. Business investors in South Africa want to be able to see the results and analyse them thus far, as this will give them the answers they need to go ahead with your concept. If the potential investor sees profitability in your work, it will generate confidence. Another tip to consider is your business’s focus. While technology is a trending topic, investors want to see how customer-centric your business is and how you’re changing the lives of your customers.

When you create an intellectual property portfolio, you’re creating a competitive advantage for your startup company and showing investors how serious and passionate you are. Investors want to see that you have patented your idea or trademarked something in your business. It’s a good barrier to entry.

Final words

As you see, success takes time and hard work. In order to gain funding, you will need to do things in the right sequence before you find out more on how to apply for a startup business loan. Once you see that you cannot carry it further without the financial support you need, consider funding. This will give investors a clear idea of your journey and what they can expect to see if there was money involved.

Vital leadership skills every small business owner needs

Being a small business owner means that, other than entrepreneurial spirit, you will need to have leadership skills to succeed. You will need to be able to lead your team with ease and have an understanding of all aspects of your business, including financial accounting and marketing. If you are not sure what, exactly, being a leader entails, below are just some of the vital leadership skills you will need as a small business owner.

Organisation

Arguably one of the most important leadership skills you will need is organisational skills, and this pertains to every aspect of your business. Keeping your workspace neat and tidy will help to calm your mind, and keeping your business data in order will help to make your work more streamlined.

Keeping everything organised will help you to quickly access information and make quicker business decisions. You will need to be able to organise your contact information, tasks, sales information, and all the other moving pieces involved in bringing in new business, as well as understand your financial situation. This can be done by taking a diploma in financial accounting. An organised business is one that performs well and provides customers with outstanding service and experience.

Effective communication skills

Being able to communicate with your employees and your customers is essential to the smooth running of any small business. Communication is equal parts talking and listening, with listening being vital for meeting with employees and clients.

As a business owner, you can build your success by being able to communicate your goals clearly to your team so that they are able to implement them. Listening to the opinions of the people on your team will also enable you to become a better boss, and it can improve your business operations. Without the ability to communicate your value to potential clients, you are unable

Confidence

Confidence is more of a personal attribute than a skill, but it is important nonetheless. Without confidence, you are unable to inspire trust and respect in your employees and customers. Leaders need confidence in order to make decisions and stick to them.

Self-confidence is important for small business owners as you will need to convince clients to use your skills and buy your products. If you are not confident in your business and in yourself, this will shine through in your business and will increase your profits. Confidence is an attribute that is inherent in entrepreneurs and can be built on with courses and conferences.

Strategic thinking

Thinking strategically is important to  the success of any business. This means that not only do you have a vision for your business but the ability and drive to move forward with this vision. You are able to think on your feet and use all the information available to come up with a plan of action to reach your goals.

Strategic thinking is a leadership skill that can be applied to your entire business, such as marketing and finances. Strategic marketing means that you will look at what is trending in the media and use this to your advantage in your campaign. Using strategic thinking financially could mean that you take financial accounting courses in order to better understand your bookkeeping process.

Emotional intelligence

Being emotionally intelligent means that you are able to understand and control your emotions. It will help you to understand yourself and those around you, namely your employees and your clients. It also means that you are able to act diplomatically rather than simply following a whim or an emotional reaction.

Having empathy is a part of having emotional intelligence, and empathy is what drives a small business that wants to connect with customers and give them the best customer experience possible. You should be able to effectively demonstrate emotional intelligence and use it to form connections with your employees and clients. Emotional intelligence also means that you are better able to make smart business decisions with your head rather than your heart.

The ability to adapt

Having the ability to adapt to difficult situations is vital for any small business owner. Change in the economic environment is constant, and being unable to adapt to these changes is highly detrimental to your business success. The ability to adapt also means you need to have the ability to embrace change, too.

Leaders are also able to implement changes easily and efficiently in their business. You should be able to do this without disturbing the organisation’s balances and should provide your staff with help as they strive to adapt to these changes too. Adaptability is highly important in this digital world we live in, especially for small business owners.

Tips for taking your small business to the next level

Before you started your small business, before you quit your day job, you spent any free moment you had researching the best way forward. You wanted to know what the experts thought about how you could turn your idea into a successful business. You read many thousands of articles, listened to podcasts any chance you could, asked for advice from friends who’d done the same and searched for books on the subject.

Says Entrepreneur: “In today’s tumultuous economy, many business owners are in need of a jolt — something that helps their companies grow, whether it’s finding new ways to sell their products or to broaden their customer base. Of course, there are many potential avenues for achieving growth, and each business needs to assess at its own business model and determine its own path.”

Time has similar advice: “These days, doing what you’ve always done won’t cut it anymore. Just look at former movie rental giant Blockbuster. All the brand familiarity and market dominance in the world couldn’t save the company when it lagged behind competitors more responsive to critical changes in the market.”

If your small business is beginning to do well, you’re probably wondering how you can take it to the next level. What’s the next step, you’re wondering. Here are some tips to take your business from a zero to a hero.

Consider your timing. As is often the case, in business you need to be in the right place, at the right time. For example, there’s little point releasing a photo editing and sharing app right now. There’s already a major winner in this market. Unless your app can make people look like supermodels and Hollywood actors, you’re probably not going to have much luck. You need to spot a need that your customers have. To do this, you’ll need to keep your finger on the pulse of what’s happening in your area of interest. You need to keep yourself updated with new activities and projects  in your industry.

Build your brand. Every single thing related to your brand is a part of your business. If your car is branded with your company’s name, you’d better drive carefully. If someone is paid to answer the phone for your business, they better know how to handle callers. You are going to need to connect with your brand on a personal level so that clients think of it as an industry leader, influencer and expert. When journalists think of your industry, they know they need to contact you for a quote. You’ll need to make sure you know who your target market is and that you’re connected to them when they want to have conversations. You should also be certain your brand is known for its excellent service. When all of these factors come into play, that’s when you can begin to grow your business to the next level. That’s when you know it’s time to contact asset finance companies in South Africa about securing your next big line of credit.

Pivot your business offering. You’re not going to want to do this too soon. But there will come a time when you need to diversify your business’s offerings. Be sure to stick to related products or services, otherwise your business may begin to feel disjointed. This might confuse your customers and push them toward your competitors where they’ll be sure of what they’ll be getting.

Get yourself online. As the world becomes increasingly digital, it’s become essential for every business to have an online presence. When your customers want to check on procuring your services, the first place they’ll search for you is Google. No one uses a phone book anymore. There’s only one place to go for suggestions and solutions. It’s important that your website can be found by anyone who looks for it by making use of SEO strategies. You should also make an effort to use social media to your advantage. This has become increasingly difficult as social media has begun to use algorithms which prefer the companies which are spending money on ads. So, it might be very likely that you’ll have to put some money behind your efforts.

Make sure you take your time to launch and grow your business slowly. That’s the best way to make sure it’s a sustainable success. But, importantly, don’t wait too long to grow your business or you’ll never get anywhere.