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“Small companies are trying to do more with less,” says Dave Simon, vice president, small business sales, at DocuSign. “Limited money, limited capital, people wearing many hats.”
And because they are often resource- and capital-constrained, as their customer base begins to grow, revenue starts to accelerate, they have more clients to service, and they can hit a point of eroding efficiency in their ability to deliver a great customer experience. Most small businesses try to address the decline in customer experience by hiring more support or service professionals, says Simon, which is an expensive and inefficient way to do it, especially considering the time it takes to ramp up new employees.
That’s where business tech needs to come in. “Technology can help small businesses systematize and scale their customer experience,” Simon says. “Solutions are becoming more affordable, and easy to adopt for small businesses that don’t necessarily have a technical staff in-house. Today’s online “cloud” applications can provide a quick ROI, and an ability to start small and scale.”
Technology is also essential for improving engagement and conversion of customers. He points to companies like HubSpot and MailChimp that have developed simple tools to coordinate a series of customer communications across channels (email, phone, and text) to help with the pre-sale process. Small businesses have more tools than ever before to help them scale their business. For example, DocuSign has removed friction in the agreement process to accelerate speed to contract signing, ZenDesk has created a simple customer support platform, and Salesforce has recently releases Salesforce Essentials, a customer relationship management(CRM) tool purpose-built for small businesses to offer them a simple 360-degree view of every customer.
“These all serve as examples of technologies that help across the entire operation of a business; support, service, sales, and marketing, and they are all easy to implement,” Simon explains. “Modern online (cloud) applications don’t take weeks of implementation time, expensive hardware or deep technical expertise to get up and running. You can get started with them overnight.”
Their lightweight implementation and onboarding allow small businesses to get rapid returns on their investment through quick wins. Plus, it reduces the amount of up-front risk and commitment that’s required to adopt technology and get value out of it.
He points to NanaWall, a company that manufactures high-end folding glass walls for both commercial and residential use. NanWall leverages DocuSign’s electronic signature technology to move more sales quotes to confirmed orders in a very competitive market. The eSignature technology also allows architects to create designs and structure agreements for initial orders with customers, and then manage change orders on the fly, many times from mobile phones. NanaWall’s adoption of eSignature technology has helped them acquire more customers and grow their business while also streamlining their customer experience by eliminating the traditional friction caused by the client and company back-and-forth that is so common. They no longer ask clients to print out documents, sign them, scan them, and send them back; the client simply reviews and clicks.
Many other companies use platforms like Zendesk to manage customer support more efficiently and more effectively. You can manage all your customer inquiries across phone, email, and even text message with case tracking and routing to your various employees. Having a system like this allows small businesses to offer support through any channel preferred by the customer, in addition to laying a foundation to support greater scale as their business grows.
HubSpot on the marketing front offers the ability to provide very personalized marketing and communications to customers. So you don’t need to have a personal relationship with every customer to make the experience feel like it is highly personal and connected, Simon says. This means treating customers with different behaviors, in different industries, or that have different adoption patterns with your products and services, in a tailored way.
Simon advises small businesses to look for technology companies that are known for world-class customer experiences. The right technology providers not only have a product with a reputation for being easy to use but also resources (e.g. training and customer support) to help you get the most from the software for your unique business needs. Small businesses need to consider software as an investment in growth rather than an expense. Spending a little more to get the best-in-breed application that includes strong support will ensure you get up and running fast, and more importantly, see a return on the investment faster.
“You often see that it’s tempting for small businesses to prioritize saving a bit of money, but services and training should not be areas where you should do that,” he says. “It’s counterintuitive but eliminating costs in training and adoption ends up costing more money in the end.”
Investing time and money in onboarding properly to any technology platform is a critical factor, he explains. If you invest in a support plan or professional service hours when you’re launching technology in your business, they’ll help you and your team succeed with the technology faster.
Additional training is also really helpful not only for the administrator managing the system, but to help train up end users across the business, and to help build an effective training and adoption plan across the business.
And when developing a larger technology strategy for your business, it’s important to keep an eye on the advances that are being added to small businesses apps. Tech companies are increasingly leveraging machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities to make their products even easier to work with. For example, DocuSign, is leveraging AI in DocuSign Intelligent Insights to help businesses instantly locate, analyze, and manage agreements more effectively.
To learn more about the technology that’s available right now for SMBs to manage prospects and customer relationships, accelerate business workflows and processes, and not just meet, but exceed customer expectations while you boost your sales growth, don’t miss this VB Live event!
Don’t miss out!
Webinar attendees will learn:
- How to deliver success across the entire customer lifecycle from lead to retention
- How to configure, price, and quote complex deals, fast and efficiently
- How to accelerate business by closing deals with instant sign-offs on agreements
- How customer-focused organizations win business with personalized experiences
- Katie Foote, Vice President, Demand Generation for Small Business, Salesforce
- Dave Simon, Vice President, Small Business Sales, DocuSign
- Stewart Rogers, Analyst-at-Large, VentureBeat
- Dave Clark, Host, VentureBeat
Sponsored by DocuSign