Thirty years ago, you could tell a colleague or client was a hard worker because she was always “taking work home with her.” The laptop pushed the responsiveness bar higher. Because people could work outside the office, after business hours, we began demanding our colleagues get work done faster.
In the digital age, everyone has at least one connected device everywhere they go. The already-limited grace period we afforded vendors and colleagues has all but disappeared. Now the customer mentality is, "We know you have a mobile device with you. We know you got our call or email or social media ping. We want a response now."
Increasingly, entrepreneurs are meeting this demand, sometimes even performing integral business tasks in the strangest places — because the smart thing is to respond right away.
These tips will show you can use your technology tools to enlist a small-business strategy that is timeless: being accessible and engaged.
1. Close your deals on the go
An astonishing 84 percent of small business professionals have closed a deal outside their office — using an online fax service and digitized-signature technology.
Because many deals still require signatures and trusted transmission methods, fax is often stipulated over email as a vehicle for sending a signed contract in order to ensure security and legal proof.
In a recent eFax survey, 32 percent of 1,100 small- and medium-sized businesses polled said they have closed at least half of their deals this year from a smart phone or tablet.
Clearly, these entrepreneurs have offices and desks where they can spread out hardcopies of their deal agreements, take their time and review them without the worry of spilling a cup of coffee on the paper. But that wouldn’t be fast enough. It wouldn’t be responsive enough.
One entrepreneur signed on the dotted line on a smart phone’s screen in a Las Vegas casino. Another signed at a Paul McCartney concert in London. One respondent even recalled faxing while rock climbing on Yosemite’s El Capitan.
2. Monitor social media
You’re already using Twitter and Instagram to share photos of your meal from your new favorite restaurant down the street, so why not also monitor the site for mentions of your business and engage with your customers in real-time? Whether it’s complaints, questions or praise, you need to ensure you’re actively responding to your social community and can do so from anywhere.
Don’t just respond for the sake of responding. Know when to direct message or ask the person to send you their contact information so you can reach out personally. A little engagement goes a long way.
3. Snap it
Embrace the powerful and already-available feature on your smartphone – the camera. In a rush and need to remember something for later? Take a picture. Do this for receipts, notes on a napkin, documents or anything else you may need later on. Then you can upload the photo to its respective cloud-based app like Dropbox for storing information or Evernote for keeping your notes in one place. These tools sync across all of your devices so you can access them from your desktop, smartphone or tablet later.
4. Take your documents to the next level
Beyond immediate response is instant engagement. Customers, clients and vendors alike expect you to always bring your A-game. Presentation apps such as SlideRocket re-imagine the quaint 1950s-era slide show for the on-the-go digital age. Stored in the cloud, sales and marketing representatives can make changes to presentations from anywhere without having to reload or reconfigure. This allows for a flexible and cost-efficient multi-media platform for powerful engagement on the spot – from your tablet or smartphone.
© 2014 American City Business Journals, Inc.