Optimising business efficiency is vital to all companies, and in the case of SMEs, where resources are particularly precious, cutting costs and ensuring effective allocation of resources should be right at the top of your list. All economic models are driven by the same things – cost, quality, scalability and speed. While businesses increasingly require smarter ways of working – basically doing the same for less – so customers’ expectations increase exponentially. Don’t constrain your business by locking it up in the past. Recognise strengths in your business and don’t be scared to make changes to areas of weakness, be innovative and challenge your past assumptions!
Accessibility/technology – it would be trite to say that we live in an increasingly connected world…but we do! Do your staff have adequate access to your networks and client information wherever they are? Using simple tools like virtual private networks (VPNs) ensures business continuity, heightens prospect engagement and optimises client retention.
Do you have the best possible CRM for your business needs and are all departments using it properly? When sales people are out on the road, the system should be set up to be as user friendly as possible to ensure admin gets done with little fuss and no excuses available for not doing so.
Is your website optimised for mobile and if you have emerging markets in your sights would you benefit from having a presence on the most prominent Chinese search engine, Baidu or Yandex in Russia. Are your calls to action working? Is it clear what you want prospects or visitors to do and is the user experience of the site the best it can possibly be?
Consider how well you are adapting to the new digital landscape. If you are wasting hours and gaining palpitations wrestling with your website content management system and it still looks like something from the 90s, then research your training options, the platforms you are using and consider some professional consultation. Your website is your shop window and you want it to be looking like Harrods, not Wilkinsons! If you are running Google Adwords campaigns and your spend is high with precious few results, it could be prudent to outsource to experts whose only focus is best practice in that field and not keeping an entire business afloat. Read our interview with digital marketing experts, Noisy Little Monkey, for more top tips.
Opportunities for outsourcing – Conduct a full appraisal of your resource allocation and be ruthless. If you feel you are on top of this already, cast your mind back to the last time you made a similar review and consider what has changed within your business in the interim. Perhaps due to staff changes and operational requirements there are parts of your business that you should be looking to outsource. Significant savings can be made if your utilisation levels are low for back office administrative, customer service and other processes. Outsourcing affords you considerable savings when you can skirt the cost of investment in continually upgrading technologies and facilities, or if you require greater flexibility in staffing levels.
Outsourcing is traditionally a cost reduction exercise and although this remains true, it is also a highly strategic option. In your primary job role you are an expert, but too often in smaller businesses, individuals are expected to cover multiple and disparate remits – and it is often a case of spreading themselves too thin. Your customers, prospects and employees will benefit from expert input so you can focus on driving your business forward and securing its success in the market.
Outsourcing can not only provide the benefits of support and expertise, but times have changed from the historical fears of dislocation between business owners and their outsourced departments. These days a good service provider will ensure optimum communication and trust with management reporting, customer insight and more. Your outsourcing partner should work alongside you in a consultative manner to assure the highest operational and quality standards and the maximum campaign successes possible.
Listen to your customers – they are best positioned to tell you what aspects of your business are and aren’t working. Try sending out a survey and follow it up with a call from your client care/customer service department. This is also a great opportunity to find out if there are other services you can offer to your clients. Identify areas that need work and deploy a task force to address them as urgent. If appropriate, keep customers updated on efforts you are making to address the issue. Look to social media as a barometer of how effective your customer service provision is and address any concerns in a transparent manner with integrity and tact.
Are your staff fulfilled and utilised to their full potential? The benefits to this are clear; reduction in staff churn, consistency in client service provision and in-depth knowledge of company strategy, its aims and markets. Ensure motivation is optimised and all training requirements are fulfilled. Maintaining a positive workplace and maintaining staff morale is integral to a thriving, progressive business.
Enjoy yourselves! – be future-focussed and customer-centric. Get out to conferences and networking events and enjoy the community your business is in. Eschew mornings hunched over the despondency of negative industry news, if it gives you heartburn. Be aware of the risks but don’t let them stifle innovation.
Good luck and let us know how you get on!
Expolink is a leading specialist in inbound and outbound call handling services. Our call centres operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, delivering outsourced call centre services to companies of all sizes and in a wide variety of markets.