Technology can be an invaluable tool for small businesses looking to establish and grow themselves. It’s something that Hayley Morris believes is integral to the success of her business. Hayley is the founder of Sisterhood Womens Travel, a Melbourne-based tour company that specialises in women-only travel for small groups. Hayley tells us how she uses technology and offers some insider tips for other small business owners.
How technology can help you build a community around your business
Having established Sisterhood Womens Travel 11 years ago, Hayley has built a strong community of supporters and customers around her business. She has a two-pronged approach that allows her to connect with her online community. Hayley creates content like blogs and e-newsletters that are amplified using social media and email software. This allows her to engage with her community directly and frequently.
“Technology is my way to engage all of my travellers. My website is a fantastic tool. We also have a fortnightly e-newsletter called Friday Hot Flush sent through Infusion Soft [sales and marketing automation software designed for small business] and a pretty engaging Facebook Page and a group,” explains Hayley. “My customers love sharing photos and travel stories with each other online and that inspires other women to want that same experience”.
“Technology for me is crucial. If I don’t have it then I don’t have a way of continually keeping front of mind with people, which is important in my industry.”
How technology can help create a better service experience for your customers
“Your website is your shop front and if that’s not up to date and easy to navigate it might steer people away,” says Hayley. Having a website that is well designed, informative and user-friendly is key. She also advocates using tools to better your customer experience and simplify the sales process. The online booking tool featured on her business website is prime example of this.
The booking tool means that physical forms do not need to be sent out to customers, completed and either posted or emailed back – saving time and money. This process is complemented by extensive in-store and phone support, so customers still feel like they’re getting personalised service. “Whether it’s us filling out the online booking form or our customers doing it, we are helping them straight away and we are getting a firm commitment from them, which really works,” Hayley says.
Depending on the nature of your business and the need of your customers, there are many new technologies that can help you refine your customer service experience. Some of these include:
- Automatic call back
- Live chat solutions
- Virtual helpdesk
- Social media support
- Mobile apps
- Online forums.
How technology can make your business more efficient
Online platforms can connect you to a range of experts and freelancers to help you within your business. As Hayley said, “I had my logo developed through a logo development specialist online. I found my business consultant through Expert360 [a web platform that connects business owners to freelancers and consultants]. I have engaged someone online to do an animation for a promotion. A few years ago, I found a production company through Google to make a promotional video for Sisterhood Womens Travel, which is embedded in my website and on YouTube,” shares Hayley.
Small business owners have access range of apps, programs and software that can help reduce overheads. Tools like cloud technology, online invoicing software, and project management tools can streamline processes and help you become more efficient, giving you time to grow your business rather than focusing on administrative tasks.
Hayley says: “You have just got to be at the forefront of all that technology. I am not really a ‘techy’ person but I do it because it is crucial to my business.”
If you’re looking for business loan to grow your own business, talk to Prospa about how we could help.