5 Strategies To Streamline Your Small Business in 2016

Operating a business is a time consuming venture no matter how large or small your business is. Until we figure out how to extend the hours of a day, streaming business operations is your best way to maximizing productivity and profitability.

There are literally dozens of ways to streamline your business operations. Trying to implement them all can quickly become another time suck. Instead, focus on the five strategies below to start streamlining and saving time instantly:

Streamline Contact Management With a CRM

Leads and referrals are the lifeblood for all businesses. Managing contacts is something that has to be taken seriously, but doesn’t have to become a time-consuming burden. Customer relationship management (CRM) software makes staying in contact and nurturing leads an autopilot experience.

These systems keep all of your contacts organized, keep track of when and what contact is made and help the sales team connect on a more meaningful level. These systems have a variety of functions, but one of the most popular CRM features is marketing automation tools. This allows you to create email campaigns that are automatically sent and provide automatic follow up anytime someone fills out a form or calls your business.

With a CRM, a lot of the contact management work is done for you after the initial setup. Reports can also be generated to provide valuable insight into marketing and sales with minimal effort.

Use a Cloud-Based Phone System to Bring All Your Calls Together

The latest technology in telephone communication is cloud-based calling systems. Instead of your cell phone, office phones and home phone being spread out and under different plans, everything is brought together in the cloud. Calls to your business number can be routed to any phone in any location.

Now there’s no telephone lines or equipment tying things down to a particular place or phone. Better still is that cloud-based phone systems are much easier to manage while providing more features. All of your voicemails, call recordings and call tracking data for all of your phone numbers can be found in a single online account. Reports can be generated with a click of a button so you can analyze phone leads, sales and marketing efforts all at once.

Use an Accounting System to Put Payments on Autopilot

If you’re spending more than a few minutes creating invoices, making payments and reminding customers and clients that payments are due, it’s time to invest in an accounting system. Today there are accounting software options that can do it all for you.

Look for an accounting system with the following capabilities:

  • Generate invoices
  • Send email reminders when payments are late
  • Alert you when late payment reminders are sent
  • Process electronic transfers to make your payments
  • Keep records of all transactions and create reports

A dynamic accounting system will make balancing the books every month a breeze and really pays off during tax season.

Hire Outside Help

There are three things that businesses can leverage to increase productivity: time, money and people. Hiring full-time employees is not always necessary or financially feasible. But hiring outside contract workers is a smart streamlining strategy.

Not only will outside help free up your time, it can also save you money and help you implement other streamlining systems. Three areas to consider outsourcing are administrative work, technical functions and specialized tasks.

Desk-based work can take up to 32% of an entrepreneur’s day, and is often busy work that can easily be handled by someone else. Tech issues can be completed in a matter of minutes by someone that knows what they’re doing, and they can help to future-proof systems. The same goes for other specialized work that requires expertise. If the task isn’t directly making money or helping grow your business it’s time to delegate.

Create a Customer Portal

You can help customers and clients help themselves with a customer portal. This is a portion of your website that’s dedicated to answering questions and providing information. It doesn’t have to be fancy or complicated. It just needs to act like a help desk that customers can browse on their own.

Something as simple as an FAQ page can dramatically cut down on the number of customer calls that have to be fielded. You can beef up your customer portal by making it interactive. Allow customers to submit support tickets, fill out forms and complete transactions to streamline several processes simultaneously. In addition to streamlining your customer service this will also help boost customer satisfaction.

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Top Ecommerce Tips To Implement For Better Online Customer Experience

Quality goods are no longer sufficient to stay competitive in the digital era. Nowadays consumers have many buying options to choose from and tend to stay loyal to the brands that provide exceptional customer experience. According to Forrester, 73% of consumers would like to buy more where they had a positive customer experience. What exactly you can do to win customers and improve relationships with customers across the entire customer journey? What kind of new tools you can incorporate into your business processes to achieve higher level of customer satisfaction and increased up-selling opportunities? Read on for some Top Ecommerce Tips…

To stay competitive, you should craft strategies taking into account what is trendy and upcoming.

If you are not aware of the emerging trends in the ecommerce field, here are some suggestions to help you revise the basics to achieve superior customer support experience for your online store:

Software for managing online communities

One of the most cost-effective ways of strengthening relations with customers is to build active and supportive community of brand advocates. Online community software solutions can help brands to build and manage their communities online. Such web-based tools, like www.getsatisfaction.com can help you facilitate the conversations between brands and customers, provide a more engaging support experience, build better products reviews, increase SEO and, finally, improve customer loyalty.

Combination of big data and CRM

Another trend to watch for in the ecommerce space are tools that help companies examine the large volumes of data to help them in making data-driven decisions. When taking into consideration customer data, big data refers to large amounts of either transactional data or analytical data. With the help of CRM the information can be structured in various ways for the different purposes: design, pricing decisions or demand forecasting. Ecommerce businesses struggle to make sense of big data because of its volume, the speed in which it should be collected and the great variety of channels it encircles. While big data technology is cheaper due to the open source tools, main spending is connected to CRM implementation to collect and analyze a complex data. The CRM solution is required to have powerful data collection capabilities as well as the ability to get the information from different sources, like bpm’online CRM does.

Multiple sales channels

Nowadays customer browsing is not limited to a single website so ecommerce business owners can consider setting up multiple storefronts to get new clients and better manage customer service. The idea is to welcome customers from multiple channels, building sites for the different target audiences.  When online stores are ready to create multiple storefronts, www.shoppingcart1.com can be an example of the software solution that support multiple storefronts.

Free Return

Free shipping has always been appealing for online shoppers. Now free shipping and free return is a proven tactic to turn buyers into repeat customers. Amazon.com was the first store who offered free shipping and return as part of their loyalty program, but in most cases, the consumer still has to pay for return shipping. Offering free return shipping is one of the hottest ecommerce trends, which is becoming popular now among customers. If an online store can offer free returns, it can show the customers not only the confidence about the products, but also the flexibility and great attitude towards customers.

Online shopping has been growing and retailers should look for new reasons to attract shoppers to spend more. As technology continues to rapidly evolve, ecommerce business might employ more sophisticated tools and facilities to make online shopping a lot more efficient and engaging for their customers.

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Best CRM Systems: Which Platform Gets You The Most Bang For Your Buck

Best CRM Systems: CRM (customer relationship management) software is a class of enterprise software that basically covers a wide range of applications as well as software that’s designed to assist companies in accessing important business data, managing both customer interaction and customer data as well as automating sales, customer support, marketing, and also managing vendor, partner, and help a business decipher between customer needs and wants.

CRM Software Today

CRM software is created to help companies meet the goals and demands of customer relationship management. CRM software today is highly customizable and scalable, which enables businesses to gain more clientele insights along with a back-end diagnostic engine, streamline operations, view key business opportunities with foreseeable analytics, and personalized customer service according to the client’s past history and former interactions with your organization.

CRM software is generally used to effectively manage business-client relationships. But, the software can also be used in a similar manner in order to successfully manage contacts, sales leads, contract wins, and clients in general as well.

Below is a basic CRM Software Review of the top five systems according to global market share:


Although Salesforce is relatively new, it follows the path of no one. It’s currently the most popular CRM software publisher overall. While it’s not as large as its fierce competitors, including SAP, Microsoft, or Oracle, it has nevertheless gained more than two million customers worldwide.

Salesforce has become one of the primary providers of CRM software applications that’s delivered through a cloud computing model or SaaS (software as a service). The company’s main solution involves a CRM system created for businesses and industries of all sizes throughout the world.

Also, Salesforce provides a PaaS (platform as a service) solution known as ‘Force’ (Force.com) and manages an integrated third party type of systems portfolio in an ecosystem online called ‘AppExchange’. Salesforce markets its enterprise software and CRM solutions to various organizations on a subscription basis, essentially via a direct sales model as well as indirectly in a business partner approach.


SAP’s CRM solution includes a fully integrated client relationship management software system manufactured by SAP that primarily targets the general requirements of business software of both midsize and large businesses for virtually all sectors and industries.

The SAP CRM application involves a variety of integrated modules that fully support client-facing functional areas such as:

  • SAP CRM Sales
  • SAP CRM Marketing
  • SAP CRM Interaction Center
  • SAP CRM Service
  • SAP CRM Partner Channel Management
  • SAP CRM Web Channel (including E-Service, E-Marketing, and E-Commerce)

Like its top competitor Oracle, SAP chose to release a SaaS CRM type of product known as SAP Sales on Demand. But, this web-based solution is more about enhancing their on-premise products in general.


Oracle’s range of CRM products consist of Oracle Siebel CRM, Oracle Contact Center Anywhere, Oracle CRM on Demand, Oracle PeopleSoft Enterprise, and Oracle E-Business Suite. The company itself retains more than 5,000 CRM customers worldwide, about 130 million users in self-service, and approximately 5 million users in general.

Since its acquisition in 2005 by Oracle, the product has maintained a forward push, but not without some hefty competition from one of its biggest competitors (SAP) along with a number of ways to measure market share. Today, Oracle and SAP both claim the top spots in the CRM software industry. However, most analysts are inclined to give Oracle software a slight edge, although it’s primarily based on which benchmarks are counted and variables are used overall.

Sugar CRM

Sugar CRM is considered the best CRM software available today. Not only is it very affordable, it doesn’t require you to get an upgrade or feature any hidden fees. It also enables each staff member to effectively handle customers face-to-face. Sugar CRM is known for creating excellent relationships between clients and salespeople. It automates different aspects of the business including customer service as well as marketing and selling.

Also, Sugar CRM can potentially make sales teams as much as 20 percent more efficient overall since it perfectly combines the basic mobility, simplicity, and social components of a consumer app along with optimizing the business process of traditional CRM.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM

Microsoft Dynamics CRM has turned into a prominent CRM software solution. Microsoft CRM stands alone in an ever-changing CRM marketplace since the same code set can be used in the SaaS remote delivery model or incorporated on-premise. Customers can also directly subscribe from Microsoft to Dynamics CRM or else choose from a variety of specialized partners.

Microsoft CRM’s latest release now enables SaaS clients as well as business partners to easily install server-side code within the Microsoft data centers and cloud. Microsoft CRM software will keep advancing together with Azure, Microsoft’s highly regarded public cloud.

This CRM comparison regarding CRM software is offered in a variety of installations, which include on-premises or as cloud (web-based) applications where the software itself is typically hosted through a CRM provider and then accessed by the client’s online business through the secure services of the provider.

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