The rapid shift in customer expectations underway right now is presenting a huge opportunity for small business to be more competitive. But they must adapt, and that means embracing technology.

That was the message from our SMB Keynote last Thursday as the Salesforce Advantage Tour hit Sydney. Trends in Mobile, Cloud, and Big Data mean that customer expectations of the way they learn from and engage brands has shifted very rapidly to a place where they expect personalised treatment, and they expect it NOW.

But in the same way those technologies have empowered customers, they also empower small businesses.

Customer Experience (UX) is the new battlefield where companies try to differentiate their brand. This is only recently the case. Gartner found that while only 36 per cent of companies expected to compete “mostly on the basis of” customer experience in 2013, in 2016 that figure will be 89 per cent! Those that can compete here can gain the edge regardless of how big or small they are.

The good news is: the technology that can give small businesses that edge is not only here, but very affordable and easy to manage.

Whether it is finding customers faster, winning more customers or retaining existing ones, small business has at its disposal very accessible solutions to compete on a level playing field with much bigger competitors.

Here are the three aspects of technology explored duringc the keynote that can rig the game in favour of small businesses:

1.   Automation

 “I love spending my time on data entry” Said no sales rep, ever

Research says that 28 hours a week are wasted by sales reps on answering email, while 79 per cent of customer data never makes it into the CRM. But CRM is now far more intelligent than ever before and instead of waiting to be fed information, it finds it. Not only do these more complete solutions now guide sales reps towards the most promising leads, but they also serve up all the relevant information needed to close the deal.

2.            Personalisation

With everything that has happened in the areas of social and mobile technologies, customers today expect to be able to engage with brands on a 1-to-1 basis, on first name terms. Surely resource-stretched SMBs can’t possibly hope to do this? Wrong. The latest Marketing Automation software means you can automatically map a personalized journey for each unique buyer based on their preferences, behaviours and circumstances.


3.   Customer Service

Customer retention is key no matter how large or small your business is. Research tells us that only 4 per cent of dissatisfied customers will actually tell you why they aren’t satisfied, yet 91 per cent just won’t come back. Powerfully intelligent software can now identify and predict “Retention Risks” by examining customer behaviour and recommending activity most likely to win them back. This helps companies prioritise their customer outreach based on customers most at risk of leaving. As we all know, it is much easier and cheaper to keep existing customers than win new ones.

We saw a wealth of customer case studies that bear out these technology advantages for small businesses. For instance, Sam Brackley told us how embracing technology helped online education provider Ivy College become the 4th most innovative company in Australia according to BRW Magazine. You can read her story here.

The feature case study was the fast-growing fitness class start-up ClassPass and you can watch the video below to see how they have mastered technology to punch above their weight and become a $60 million turnover player! The clear message from this keynote was: by embracing technology in your company, you can do the same!

Manage your customer relationships with confidence. Download the Everything You Need to Know About CRM and SalesforceIQ eBook: