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Planning for this year to be different? Try one of these highly recommended New Year’s resolutions we gleaned from well-known experts in the industry. Founded on factual statistical findings, these recommendations will have a significant impact on your company’s bottom line if you apply them in 2019.

1. Engage More with your Employees

One of the key factors to running a successful business is knowing how to engage with your employees. If you are a small business owner or leader in a small organization, understanding the level of passion your workforce has for the job can put you a step ahead of the competition. Companies with engaged employees see 233% greater customer loyalty and a 26% greater annual increase in revenue (Aberdeen).

As a leader, you want your employees to have pride in what they do and in the company they work for. Those who work with purpose put forth their best efforts, a practice that can only benefit the goal of your organization. Employees who feel their voice is heard at work are 4.6 times more likely to feel empowered to perform their best work (Salesforce). So, it’s important to look at every aspect of why people do the work they do and what drives them to do it.

If you are operating in a managerial position, getting to know your employees will be a key part to a successful evaluation of how engaged your staff is. From their backgrounds to their hobbies, skill sets, family life, all the aspects of your employees will end up becoming part of your workplace environment. Arming yourself with the knowledge on how to blend that into a productive, positive environment is an important skill to have as a manager.

2. Improve Customer Experience

What is customer experience? Customer experience is your customers’ perception of how your company treats them. These perceptions affect their behaviors and build memories and feelings to drive their loyalty. In other words, if they like you and continue to like you, they are going to do business with you and recommend you to others.

According to a Walker study, 86% of buyers are willing to pay more for a great customer experience. It is said that by 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator. Therefore, customers no longer base their loyalty on price or product. Instead, they stay loyal with companies due to the experience they receive. If you cannot keep up with their increasing demands, your customers will leave you.

So how do improve customer experience?

  1. Create a clear customer experience strategy: Have an approach that is clear customer-focused and share it with your organization. Solicit the help of employees who deal with customers regularly to build this vision.
  2. Understand who your customers are: With the help of your ‘client-facing’ employees, build unique customer profiles that tell who your customers are and what they want. If your organization is going to really understand customer needs and wants, then they need to be able to connect and empathize with the situations your customers face.
  3. Create an emotional connection with your customers: Have you heard the phrase “it’s not what you say; it’s how you say it?” Well, the best customer experiences are achieved when a member of your team creates an emotional connection with a customer. At XcelHR, when we acquire a new client, we send them a welcome gift package that says “we are glad you are part of the family.” To further express how much we care about them, we check on them regularly to find out if they are satisfied with our services. We call them once a week and visit with them once a month. This is our way of emotionally connecting with them.
  4. Capture customer feedback in real time: How can you tell if you are delivering a ‘wow’ customer experience? You simply need to ask – And ideally you should do this by capturing feedback in real time. Post-interaction surveys and similar customer experience tools can be delivered using a variety of automated tools through email and calls. And of course, it’s even possible to make outbound calls to customers in order to gain more insightful feedback. It’s important to tie customer feedback to a specific customer support agent, which shows every team member the difference they are making to the business.

3. Simplify your Business Processes

As a small business owner, do you often find yourself pulled in several different directions at once to keep the company working? You might even be expected to cover the responsibilities of “the boss” and active employee at the same time. You need to become an expert of all the critical aspects of conducting a business. These activities include HR administration, marketing, sales, customer service, and inventory management and so on. Managing all of these aspects can be challenging. So here’s our recommendation:

1) Eliminate redundant tasks or procedures that delay important operations in your business. Focus on what’s important, and do it well.

2) Outsource tasks you are not so good at so you focus on what you do best. If you need help with payroll and benefits administration, XcelHR is an excellent Professional Employer Organization service provider who can help you manage these back-end office operations. By outsourcing these operations, you will save 20-40% in administrative costs. As a matter of fact, the National Professional Employer Association (NAPEO) say that small businesses who partner with a PEO grow 7 to 9% faster than those who do not, and are 50% less likely to go out of business (Napeo).

4. Focus on Quality, not Quantity

As a fellow business entrepreneur, I know we small business owners tend to focus our energy on growth. Every year, our aim is to acquire new business, explore new markets and expand the customer database. In striving to achieve sustainable, profitable growth, it’s easy for us to take our eye off the business basics, which can leave us undermining and effectively killing our hard won growth. For example, we may receive an influx of business within a short period of time and in order to meet market demand, we hire inadequate part-time help instead of turning down business. In the process, the quality of our services suffers and we endure the ramifications of our own doing: tarnished reputation, fines and/or lawsuits.

Instead of focusing on business growth, build a brand that emphases quality of services. Establish an enterprise that hires ‘select’ employees, offers ‘select’ services to a ‘select’ target market. Guinness Book of World Records recognized car salesman Joe Girard as the world's greatest salesman for selling over 14,000 cars in a span of less than 15 years. His secret sauce was maintaining a personal connection with his customers long after that first sale. Joe Girard would send a greeting card to his customers every month without fail. Each card would simply read, “I like you.” In 2019, focus on nurturing the quality relationships you have developed in 2018 and over the past years. This strategy may not provide fruit overnight, but it does bring a greater long-term reward (#clientreferrals).

5. Automate or Digitize some of your work processes

Have you heard the phrase “digitize and save time?” It is a new concept that was adopted seven years when major technological breakthroughs revolutionized the way we conduct business. Through technological advancement, we have been given the ability to simplify our lives so we could can focus on what matters most “Grow the business.”

The automation of major business operations enabled many small businesses to flourish. In 2017, Salesforce surveyed 500 small business owners who employed less than 200 employees. Their study found that small businesses who automated their processes were 1.6 times more likely to grow than those that don’t. Therefore, if you want to accelerate the growth of your business in 2019, make sure to utilize the latest technology on the market to increase productivity in your organization. By doing so, you will save time and increase cost savings – and your employees will appreciate you for it. 92% of employees say that having the technology to do their job efficiently affects their work satisfaction (Ultimate Software).

There are numerous free apps and software products available online that can help you streamline and automate some of your back-end office processes. These products will help you produce consistent, accurate, and timely information for your clients and employees.

We hope these five ideas have inspired you to make this year an awesome one! We understand these goals may be difficult to achieve, but if you succeed in administering them successfully, you will make a significant impact on your company’s bottom line. Goodbye 2018 and hello 2019!