How to get on the technology bandwagon

Would you believe the goal of LOCAL Biz is for you to feel a little bit smarter after you read each issue? Looking back at the classic television series Get Smart, Maxwell Smart was ahead of his time. Technology has yet to give us a shoe phone or a cone of silence. What this Smart Stuff section will provide your business are tools, tips and resources that are tactical and more practical than a shoe phone and will help you bring order to Kaos (Smart’s nemesis organization).

The should do’s, must do’s and nice-to-do’s 

2020 pretty much sucked. While there is no eloquent way to describe last year, there was at least one silver lining that emerged from an otherwise dismal year. Technology adoption accelerated. If you haven’t already jumped on the technology bandwagon, you better do it now or you will be left in the dust. 

McKinsey’s research shows a shocking rate of adoption of digital technologies in the past three years equal to 10 years of e-commerce adoption. And it’s no secret that technology adoption the past 10 months was even more rapid as consumers who were once luddites moved quickly to online meal ordering, online homeschooling and even online medical consultations.

To say there is no time like the present to up your technology game is an understatement. The effective use of technology is critical to adapt to the inevitable changes and challenges businesses are facing. 

While money may indeed make the world go ’round, the rapid advancements of technology aren’t far behind. With the ongoing pandemic, businesses are relying on emerging technology more than ever to help drive strategy, growth and innovation.

Nice-to-do’s

There aren’t any A year ago you could have argued that an email database was a nice to-do. Or that cloud storage was a nice-to-have. Or that video conferencing was something George Jetson did with Mr. Spacely. Then pow. When even the smallest dry cleaner had to shut its doors last year, they wished they had their customer information in an e-mail list to let them know the status of their pending orders. They wished they could access their files from home to send out their overdue invoices. They wished they knew how to access their Google My Business to update their hours when they did reopen. 

Should do’s

1. Zoom: Every company should know how to use Zoom (or another video conferencing service). If you are a ‘one-man shop’ you might wonder why you would ‘zoom with yourself’ because that would be weird and you don’t have employees to stay in touch with. Your customers are Zooming with friends and other businesses so you why aren’t you Zooming with them? If you don’t think your customers know how to Zoom, ask their kids or grandkids! 

2. Digital signature: Unless the laws governing your profession do not allow digital signatures, your business should adopt digital signing if you want every possible sale and to create a more positive experience for your customer. If you do not enable digital signing, you are asking your customer to print out a document, sign it, scan it and send it back to you electronically (or heaven-forbid, by snail mail). If you use a service like DocuSign or HelloSign, you simply put virtual sticky tabs on a pdf document to indicate ‘sign here’ and ‘date here’.

Contactless payment systems like Clover are more modern than legacy systems and can integrate with online shopping and Quickbooks.

Must Do’s

1. Contactless transactions This is ‘the last mile’, that last step in your customer’s experience with your company. You put signs on your door to wear masks. You sanitize every night. You put tape on the floors to mark social distancing. You installed plastic separators. If, after all that effort to create a safe environment and positive impression, you make your customer insert their credit card into a payment terminal and pick up a pen to sign a receipt, you failed. There are a number of touchless systems including Square, TipTap and Clover that are easy to install and provide a safer customer experience. 

2. Email marketing It was a watershed moment in 2020 for many companies when they realized they wanted or needed to contact their customers, especially restaurants and retailers. It was surprising how few proactively reached out to let customers know of their new hours, delivery services or sanitizing procedures. Email services are very affordable and simple to use, whether you want to send relevant newsletters or be prepared for the next time you need to contact your customer base. Constant Contact and MailChimp have good entry-level plans and a free trial. 

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