To survive in today’s hypercompetitive climate, small businesses have to be lean and efficient. That means re-evaluating everything and jettisoning old ways of working, even if they’re familiar and comfortable. Finding ways to streamline your business via cloud computing, better management techniques, call center outsourcing, and other methods will help you stay on top in a world which technology and globalization has made smaller and more crowded.
Streamline to Survive
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, about a third of new businesses fail within two years, and only about half survive after five years. Bad luck and inexperience cause many of the failures, but new business owners can enhance their venture’s chance of survival by working to make their businesses as efficient as possible. Even established businesses can benefit from streamlining, as evaluating operations and finding areas where increased efficiency can be realized can help them shed costly services and processes, and embrace better ways of working.
If you’re looking for ways to streamline your new or existing business, consider these tips:
Consider Cloud Computing Solutions – Cloud solutions can put the office at your fingertips no matter where you are. Document sharing and electronic signature software can give you access to important documents out in the field, and allow you and clients to sign contracts on the spot using your tablet or other mobile device. Desktop virtualization programs give you access to your office desktop at any location, whether it’s at home, on a plane, or at a vacation spot. Cloud computing solutions allow you and your team to be more responsive and flexible, something small businesses absolutely have to be when competing against larger rivals.
Perform an Operations Review – Review every aspect of your business and every process involved in making your products or providing service to your customers. Eliminate unnecessary steps or activities and combine redundant functions to make your business run more smoothly. You may end up stepping out of your comfort zone a bit, but if you can make your business operate more efficiently, the adjustment will be worth it.
Switch Up – This is a time management tip for business owners. By rotating among projects, you stay stimulated and avoid getting bogged down on a single task. Spend a few hours on a labor- or creative-intense activity, and then switch to something easier for a bit, to keep from becoming burned out. Remember that managing your own time is just as important for your company’s success as managing your employees’ time.
Cut Down on Travel – Travel is a big expense for many businesses, so finding ways to reduce unnecessary trips is an important priority. Make use of teleconferencing and video conferencing technology to reduce travel. Also, make use of technology to find the best rates for travel and accommodations. Don’t go too far in your travel-cutting zeal, however, as some situations require a face-to-face meeting.
Create a FAQ – If you notice that employees, vendors, or customers keep asking the same questions, update your company’s website with a FAQ. This will provide them with a convenient source to find the information they need, keeping them from tying up phone lines or eating up employee time with email inquiries. For consumers, waiting to get a response can be frustrating, so having a FAQ conveniently located on your website can help them quickly get the answers they need, and help your company avoid frustrating them with a wait to get their questions answered. Communication is everything, and an FAQ can clearly ensure your employees, vendors, customers, and others get a clear and unambiguous answer to any question they may have.
Reduce Meetings – Managers and employees alike agree – meetings are mostly a waste of time. When you and your employees are stuck at a meeting, you’re not serving customers, making products, or accomplishing other important tasks. Consider alternatives to meetings, such as email updates or bulletins to make important announcements. Save meetings for when it’s absolutely necessary to get everyone together to brainstorm or exchange information.
Standardize Paperwork – Paperwork is a necessary evil in just about any business, as records of sales, payroll, and other activities are necessary to track and report progress. Having ten different versions of the same document can significantly slow down your operation, as it can cause significant confusion among your staff and the outside professionals you may submit these documents to (accountants, attorneys, etc.) To make your bureaucracy as simplified and transparent as possible, insist on standardized paperwork throughout your business. By using standardized invoices, payroll reports, and other documents, you make accessing and sorting this information less time-consuming and prevent miscommunication.
Paying Bills in Advance – If you have some predictable monthly bills, and a solid reserve of cash, why not get ahead by paying these bills in advance? Many services give customers a discount for paying bills ahead of time, and, by knocking these costs out ahead of time, business owners can save time and effort spent arranging monthly payments. If you can’t pay bills in advance, you may want to set up automatic payments instead, to save time and avoid the possibility of a late payment.
Automate – Find technological means of automating the most mundane and repetitive parts of your business. By automating workflows, expense reports, timesheets, and other functions, you free up time and energy for you and your employees to focus on more important aspects of your business. There are a variety of business software programs that can help you automate. Check them out and find the ones most appropriate for your business.
Outsource Finance – If you have standardized documents and organized files, outsourcing your bookkeeping and accounting should be a cinch. Outsourcing these operations will save you money and allow you to stay focused on the core mission of your business. Be sure to find an accountant or bookkeeper with a solid reputation, and a strong mastery of communicating and collaborating with clients online.
Use a Third-Party Telephone Answering Service – Many small businesses don’t have the resources to devote staff to answering calls full time. As a result, staff members who really aren’t trained in customer service end up taking calls, or calls are often missed. Outsourcing call services to a third party can help ensure customers get the service they deserve, and can help ensure important personnel are performing the duties they’re best suited for, rather than being stuck on phone duty. Also, outsourcing telephone answering services to a third-party provider can help you expand services, providing your company with a means of taking calls and orders 24 hours per day.
Outsourcing Call Services
When hiring a company to outsource call service operations, it’s wise to find an established company with a track record of providing service to a variety of businesses, including ones in your industry. You should inquire about the level of services they provide, whether or not they work with scripts, and how their technology works with yours. Checking out service providers online and utilizing a thorough interview process will help small business owners find the right provider for call center services.
Personalized Communications provides a reliable partner for businesses seeking call center outsourcing. With the latest telecommunication infrastructure and a highly trained staff, Personalized Communications can ensure client calls are never lost, and that all calls are handled by employees who care about your company’s success.
To begin making your company more streamlined and efficient, contact Personalized Communications today to learn how call center outsourcing can improve your company’s communications and customer service.
For more information on how your company can benefit from call center services, visit http://www.callcenteragency.com/