SMBs should be looking to maximise their agility and flexibility as they look to build their customer base.
Agility, and the ability to react quickly to new practices and solutions, is one of the main advantages small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) have over their larger rivals. It may not always be possible to compete on price, reach or product range, but SMBs - with fewer employees and less invested in their existing setup and processes - can use their inherent flexibility to offer new services and goods first.
They can also deliver a more tailored experience to individual customers - less constrained by the need to work within the framework determined by head office. In many cases, it will be the SMB owner who deals with customers, meaning they have complete flexibility as to how they do business with them. For consumers who value dedicated customer service, they can be a significant draw towards the independent SMB market.
Customer expectations are rising
But how best can SMBs harness these characteristics, ensuring they are able to work as flexibly as possible and with maximum agility? In the world of 21st century business, consumer expectations are increasing. With e-commerce, social media and cloud services at their fingertips, many customers expect their enquiries to be dealt with in real-time, at whichever point they get in touch with the company.
This creates potential difficulties for SMBs, given their more limited resources - in terms of personnel, finance and infrastructure. In some cases, it jeopardises their market positioning, making it all the more important to take advantage of available technology solutions. At times, SMB leaders and employees need to be available, contactable and able to work from any location - and this is where Office 365 can offer assistance.
Office 365 can empower SMBs
Office 365 Small Business Premium delivers anywhere access to Microsoft Office solutions, including Word, PowerPoint, Outlook, and Excel. In addition, users can take advantage of enterprise-grade email, website-building solutions, HD video conferencing and more. Crucially, they can use all these tools without prior IT expertise.
The ability to access work through a browser, and use the same settings as on a desktop PC, means mobile and remote working is viable on laptops, tablets, smartphones and other devices. So when an SMB leader or employee is commuting, away at a meeting, at home or even on holiday, they can remain in constant contact with the office where necessary. They have the option of taking calls, answering emails, or accessing files and documents according to demand.
As such, SMBs are better positioned to meet customer needs and expectations - increasing the likelihood they will offer their long-term loyalty. On occasions when a key client or prospective customer needs to establish contact on an evening or weekend, or at other times when there is nobody in the office, Office 365 helps ensure vital business opportunities are not missed by SMBs.
Posted by Sarah Parish