With the new year on the horizon, you’re likely setting goals and outlining strategies for growing your business in 2017. As you plan to improve your business in the year ahead, you should look at some key technologies that can help you manage your customers, your data and your products.
1. Customer Relationship Management software
Every business thrives on healthy customer service and customer relationships. When you’re dealing with clients across the globe, especially as you expand, it can be difficult to keep track of all of your contacts. That’s where Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software can help.
CRM software enables you to create a database of all of your contacts that can be accessed by any applicable members of your team.
With CRM software, you can store a complete record of all of your company’s interactions with clients or potential clients. You can set up your database to capture each individual’s order history, concerns, business and personal information, and all points of contact they have had with members of your team, including phone calls, emails and chats.
CRM software is especially helpful when dealing with businesses on an international scale. It will help you and your team track where customers are located along with the languages they speak, local customs that you and your team need to be aware of and any applicable trade rules or restrictions.
CRM software can help you serve customers better by staying on top of their needs, concerns and preferences. It can also help your team to operate more efficiently, cutting down on time spent searching for information, emails or files related to their customers.
2. Cloud computing
At this point most people have heard of cloud technology, and nearly everyone who uses a computer, tablet or smartphone has used “the cloud” in some way. While the technology has become ubiquitous, you might not be aware of how cloud technology can improve your business’s operations.
When using cloud technology, your company’s digital operations take place on off-site servers that can be accessed from anywhere.
This can be particularly beneficial to companies operating on a global scale whose employees travel frequently or work remotely.
By using cloud technology, an employee on the go can access files and software utilized by the company back at headquarters from anywhere. It also means that any traveling employees can remain connected to staff back at the home office, whether it’s filing reports, sharing data or communicating seamlessly across international borders.
3. Logistics tracking technology
For companies that buy or sell internationally, logistics can be the most troublesome part of doing business. Executing, receiving and tracking shipments requires a lot of careful consideration and planning, and shipments that go awry can cost time, money and customers.
To help organizations tackle these tasks more efficiently, innovative new technology is becoming available. Logistics management systems can help bear the brunt of the burden of international shipping. They can help plan trade routes, monitor any trade restrictions or problem areas, and track shipments.
Logistics tracking technology can also be a major help in reworking disrupted routes to get your deliveries back on track.
Electronic shipment tracking is also evolving quickly to help meet businesses’ needs. Once cost prohibitive, radio frequency identification (RFID) devices have become more affordable and attainable for companies to implement. As the technology becomes more accessible, Bluetooth beacons provide another option for electronically tracking shipments.
As both RFID and Bluetooth beacons become more commonplace, businesses will be able to take advantage of automatic identification and data capture (AIDC) in their supply chains, making it easier and more efficient to track and manage their goods.
4. Translation and language learning software and services
Language barriers can be a major challenge for global companies. It goes without saying that it’s crucial to be able to communicate effectively with customers, leads and business partners.
Web-based translation companies are improving their functions every day. They are sophisticated enough to translate and check your communications, at least for a first draft. While this technology has made great strides in recent years, it’s still advisable to have a fluent speaker or professional translator check your work to avoid any inaccuracies.
If you plan to do business with partners or customers in a region for an extended period of time, learning the language can save you money on translation costs, and it can help you provide better customer service.
To that end, there are plenty of reputable online programs and software that can help you become fluent in a foreign language.
As you plan to upgrade your business in 2017, don’t forget to explore all of the ways technology can help you grow, whether it’s by providing better customer service, keeping your employees connected, improving your logistics or helping you communicate with your customers.