According to 77 percent of small business owners, their business’s long-term success depends greatly on forging mutually beneficial relationships with customers. The formula for those relationships is deceptively simple: businesses must provide products and services that speak directly to the unique needs of each individual customer.
In particular, owners who participated in a 2014 survey identified five key drivers of success:
- Forming and maintaining ongoing relationships with repeat customers
- Effectively responding to customer needs and demands
- Offering products and services at competitive prices while providing value-added services
- Continuing innovation and creating timely responses to shifting market forces
- Boosting efficiency and productivity through cost-effective approaches to IT management
In the end, the question is this: How can businesses use IT solutions to better meet the demands of their customers?
The Value Link
When recommending IT resources to small business owners, it’s essential to have a thorough understanding of the factors that drive value for the business’s customers. Analysts have noted that small business IT systems typically undergo an overhaul when the company grows to include 20 or more employees. About 27 percent of businesses in this range are primarily focused on using IT to achieve process improvements.
Once a company reaches the 50- to 99-employee threshold, efficiency and productivity improvements become more important. Using IT resources to achieve digital marketing goals, including social media campaigns and business analytics, also becomes increasingly vital at this stage.
In such cases, cloud-based solutions offer cost-effective and convenient answers. The major benefits of cloud computing include the following:
- The cloud liberates small businesses from the need to invest significant resources in computer hardware and specialized software.
- It makes for easier, more effective system integration; employee learning curves are lessened, for example.
- The cloud provides immediate access to powerful IT tools that help employees more effectively manage long-term customer relationships.
Moreover, the financial resources that small businesses retain by using cloud solutions helps them grow and scale up their operations. This, in turn, makes it easier for them to optimize their business processes, which benefits customers and ultimately provides a boost in profitability.
The Big Picture
The survey found that 74 percent of SMB owners feel good about the future of their company; 67 percent said IT was playing a positive role in business performance. Now more than ever, SMBs can profit from partnering with reliable providers of IT resources and from taking advantage of advancements in cloud computing.