Cyberspace has irreversibly changed commerce. The Internet and modern computer networks have given birth to e-commerce, the buying and selling of products or services over electronic systems. Here in Britain we are crazy for this stuff, the United Kingdom has the biggest e-commerce market in the world when measured by the amount spent per capita, even higher than the US. It is estimated that between 2010 and 2015 the Internet economy in the UK is likely to grow by 10%. If you are thinking of starting a business or are already running your own startup you need to be aware of all the digital developments and communication channels that are available to you. These developments can be used to create a great customer experience for your clients.
By harnessing the power of cloud technology and the Internet, MarketInvoice is able to run its online invoice finance auction site and engage with its clients from some modest offices in the heart of London’s tech scene, around Silicon Roundabout in Shoreditch. Here are some suggested ways your startup can seize the interest of new and existing customers.
Be proactive and engage
In an ideal world we want customers to come to us of their own accord. In the cold reality of day the only way your business is going to grow is if you step out and accumulate clients. Anticipate your customers’ needs; look at areas that focus on parts of the online domain with the highest traffic or online engagement. Web services such as Google Analytics can help you pinpoint areas where you can engage. Links to other pages and call-to-action buttons on your website are great ways to engage potential clients. Install processes where when somebody registers an interest their details are passed to a client representative. A phone call or email contact can then ensue. In the MarketInvoice case we love to get feedback from our platform users. It allows us an invaluable insight into our platform usage thus allowing us to reconcile, update and improve our service, as well as running out new features.
Where does you startup sit in a social context?
Context is vital online. In addition to understanding how customers use social media, you must first gauge how their participation in these channels will be received. Monitoring customer feedback is a key tool you should utilise before you engage with consumers. Turn channels like Twitter and Facebook into valuable lead generation engines.
Engaging with customers online can be a great instrument for meeting customer needs and completing transactions as well engaging positively with competitors or businesses with similar aims. It is so important that each person in your startup is aware of the so-called ‘party-line,’ a defined strategy outlining rules for engaging online to maintain consistency. Our company was set up to be a disruptor to the traditional options for business finance however we try not to be too critical of banks, we believe in a healthy dialogue in order to ensure economic growth.
Harness the wonder of the 2010s: Social media
The past five years have seen a boom in the amount of small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) using social media sites such as Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. Getting your business involved is no longer optional: there are some 900 million active Facebook users, 150 million LinkedIn users, more than 4 billion YouTube video views per day, and over 400 million tweets a day. The majority of social network sites are free and another benefit is that they are a great way to find companies/people you may not have found otherwise. These platforms not only connect you with a wider audience but allow you to engage with current and potential customers, keep customers up to date, keep a close eye on your competitors and of course drive traffic to your website. Companies must start small, and build on one-on-one relationships by growing a follower base and creating expert communities to offer product support and troubleshooting solutions, maximising the efficiency of agent resources. It helps if one doesn’t post repeatedly about one’s own company. People are less likely to engage with an outright sales tweet for example. On our @MarketInvoice account for example we try and educate SMEs about the alternative finance industry and tweet relevant economic and business news that may be of interest.
It is plain to see the advent of the e-commerce customer/user has brought about the need for a more proactive and collaborative model of customer service. This is something that startups should take to heart.
- 5 Cost Effective ways to market your business (thestartupmag.com)
- MarketInvoice’s top tips for business networking (thestartupmag.com)
- 4 Ways to Grow Your Customer Base (mashable.com)