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9 Online Tools for Business in 2020

With the current pandemic, we’re forced to rethink how we do business. It’s clear that COVID-19 has caused major disruption, and with such disruption, two things are important, “1. Navigating the immediate risks posed by the crisis intelligently, to emerge with minimal damage; 2. Preparing for a post-crisis world that might look distinctly different from the world we live in today.” 

If it’s one thing the COVID-19 is making obvious, it’s business owners’ commitment and resilience in keeping both their customers and employees satisfied in the face of adversity. One major way we’re being resilient, is through digital transformation. Using the digital age to efficiently and effectively deliver goods and services to our customers.

What are some of the ways you can adapt and overcome despite disruption? (especially if you have a website) These are just a few:

Online Payments

Whether you’re offering a product or service, your business being able to accept online payments has several advantages. In this current climate it minimizes the need for human contact which is a relief to everyone. Safety and security is a major concern for credit card holders, and websites are equipped with multiple layers of security to ensure customer information is secure. There are customers without credit cards, but they too have options such as using payment vouchers (eg from WiPay).
Basically all someone needs to secure your product or service is an active internet connection and the funds to make a purchase. Making online payments a convenience for everyone involved.

Online Booking

If you’re a service provider, clients having the ability to book (and where possible receive their service) online is a game changer. Service providers can take bookings to prevent crowding in their service areas, present booking policies before the client actually books the service and payments can be made in some instances so spots are secured.
It also reduces the time spent having to take calls and respond to messages or emails with regard to booking so you can better manage the delivery of your service to your customers.

Shipping Capabilities

Both UPS and FEDEX have shipping modules that can be attached to your site so you don’t have to physically deliver packages. This makes getting products to your customers faster, easier and more cost effective since you do not have to personally deliver them or hire your own delivery driver. Shipping also gives customers easier access to your products since they never have to leave the comfort of their home or office to purchase, or even spend wasted time browsing a physical store to make purchase decisions. They can complete their entire decision-making process up until purchase right on your website.

Digital Catalog or Brochure

Online catalogs or brochures make the buying process more efficient for your customer. This catalog can be accessed from anywhere and product or service specifications, costs, descriptions and even accompanying images are available. This actually allows the customer to do his/her research before buying and ask the right questions about your products and services. Administrative costs are also reduced since paper, printing and physical distribution aren’t involved.
Additionally physical catalogues have a limited reach, but a digital one can be shared over and over extending its reach. This extended reach and anytime, anywhere access significantly improves the buying experience since the customer can continually refer to it.

Live chat

Live chat features allow you to have real time conversations with your customers, and, unlike phone calls, you can communicate with multiple customers at once. Ideally live chat provides real time customer support so they can make quicker and easier decisions when it comes to your product or service. It also helps generate leads that can be reaped in the future since it can collect information from customers or potential customers. It also allows for faster problem solving since help can be offered immediately in the events it’s a technical issue that the chat agent can address, or, is able to direct it to the accurate agent. Previously this might mean making a phone call and being transferred to several different people before a customer can be adequately assisted.

Digital forms

Can be filled out and submitted through a digital portal and uploaded through your website. And, if you have multiple locations or a team that might be spread out the forms can be accessed from anywhere. With digital forms you can control the quality of data being collected (often by using mandatory fields) and the form fields can be integrated with any other systems you might have in place ensuring up to date and near errorless information. It also eliminates the paper and filing part of a process which can be both costly and time consuming. And, is less risky since paper can get lost or destroyed, but once digital forms are stored and backed up correctly they can be accessed over and over without being damaged or fear of loss.

Virtual rendering of services

If you have a service that can be administered online such as tutoring, counselling or coaching, you essentially never have to leave your home or office. This allows much more flexibility in your schedule and can widen your market to serve international customers. It also reduces costs for having a set physical space that you may need to rent or purchase, lessens or eliminates commute times. Your customers will also have easier and better access to what you offer and can communicate more easily since digital is accessible 24/7.

Virtual events

in the last two weeks, people have hosted birthday parties, brunches and concerts without ever being in the same room as the other attendees. While these are more recreational examples, business events can occur using the same premise, you need to accessible to your audience and they need to be engaged despite not being in the same physical location. Expenses are cut drastically by having a virtual events since it would not include things a physical event would have such as seating, refreshments, ushers and other on-site staff. And, because of the internet, you’re not limited to a local event, a global population can attend.
It also has major benefits for portions of your audience who may have not been able to travel or attend for physical reasons, but, with a virtual event the message can be transmitted to anyone making it convenient. With such an event, attendees can also offer real time feedback that can be traced. As well as, you can collect statistical data since each person can be traced via an audience number, their location, how many people attended the event and other pertinent information.

 

Digital Resources

Realistically speaking, things might be a bit slow, but it allows you the time to create digital resources. You may have had ideas for blog posts, video posts, E-books and other resources that can help further build trust between you and your customers. This can also help establish you as an authority in your industry, in turn positively affecting sales in the present and for future. So, if you have a website, now is as good a time as any to start creating resources and making them available to further build your business and brand.

At this time, business may be slow but incorporating digital can ensure it never comes to a grinding halt.

The key is integrating and innovating solutions that make life easier for both you and your customers!

 

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