We’re living through a cost-of-living crisis. Energy costs are rising, the price of goods is at an all-time high and pay packets aren’t stretching as far as they used to. Customers and employees aren’t the only ones feeling the pinch though – businesses are too.
However, I have some good news.
There are lots of small changes you can make to adapt during difficult times. These tweaks could even put your business in the best place to ride out future storms. I’ve looked at four ways technology can help you thrive and survive during these challenging economic times.
Move efficiency up your to-do list
Rising inflation means everything is pricier, so money simply doesn’t go as far as it did a year ago. It’s no surprise that consumers are cutting back on buying non-essential items. With less opportunities to make sales, you start looking for ways to become leaner and more efficient – and I believe automation can really help here.
Firstly, because it can help you to make the most of your valuable time and resources, by freeing you up to focus on activity that makes a real impact. This could mean adopting an online payments system that automates different parts of the buyer journey; reducing stacks of paperwork by switching to a HR solution that removes lots of admin; or improving stock replacement systems by automatically ordering more if a product is running low.
Even better news – there are lots of low -cost options, so you don’t need to spend a lot to get them set up.
Focus on adding a personal touch
Your business might not always be able to compete with big organisations, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. After all, customers like shopping with smaller retailers, when they can. Why? Perhaps they appreciate the 1-2-1 customer service. Maybe it’s down to more unique product choicesor, in some cases, they want to invest in the local community.
Whatever their reason is, if you can’t compete on price, instead focus on finding out why customers would come to you and not a larger competitor. Making the most of your business’ unique personality is a really nice way to set yourself apart.
Again, technology is your friend here. Use social media channels and your website to really bring out your personality. Respond to customer queries or complaints speedily and with empathy, so they know you care about their needs. Reward repeat shoppers with tailored products or personalised deals that align with their previous purchases.
Building meaningful relationships with new and existing customers is something that more established businesses often struggle to offer, so think about what your business can offer to really get to know and connect with your customers.
Tackle rising energy bills
While technology can help you improve how your business works, it can also find ways to reduce running costs.
Gas prices have rocketed in the last few months due to ongoing world events, which has had a knock-on effect on how much everyone’s paying for energy.
While you should be checking if your current bill matches your actual usage, there’s more you can do to trim everyday use too. Whether that’s installing a smart meter to track how much energy you’re using, or using smart lighting that automatically turns off when lights aren’t needed – there are lots of ways tech can help you monitor and reduce rising utility bills.
Check on your team
The cost-of-living crisis isn’t just about money; it’s also had a big impact on people’s wellbeing, with many businesses reporting higher rates of mental health decline among their teams.
This is a worrying trend for employers. After all, a happy and healthy workforce is a productive one. So, staying on top of how they’re feeling is important. There are many ways you can do this,ranging from training up mental health first aiders – with the internationally-recognised Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) International – to using a HR system where you can record all manager conversations with your teams. Or you could even look into using chatbots to anonymously support employees in need. Whatever you do, make sure your team know you’re committed to helping them through difficult times.
Make changes today to help protect your business tomorrow
While these tips are useful in times of crisis, they’re valuable for the long-term, too. If you use technology to improve operations, reduce costs and support your team, you’ll be better placed to manage whatever challenges you face down the line.
I understand that doing business in the current climate can feel quite scary, and potentially a little overwhelming. That’s why I would also point you in the direction of our Vodafone Business V-Hub advisers. They can help discuss a variety of digital topics to help your business and offer you tailored, 1-2-1 support, all for free.