Maintaining operations is challenging for most business owners during the COVID-19 crisis.
However, now more than ever, it’s vital to continue delivering your products and services to keep your small business moving forward — even if you need to do almost all of your tasks online.
The good news is, using the right approach and tools during a crisis while working from home can help ensure continuity for your small business.
In this guide, we’ll look into some ways you can manage your small business online despite the COVID-19 devastation.
1. Leverage online payment software
Providing an online payment option lets your customers pay for your products and services with ease.
However, establishing an online payment system requires time, effort, and expertise to ensure proper management -- including quick and secure payment processing for your customers.
By using a software to accept online payments, you can track and automate payments, connect to payment gateways, provide one-click payment options for returning customers, and more.
For instance, a software with 24/7 self-service client portal allows your customers to pay online, check their pending payment invoices and history, and get email notifications for late-payments and new invoices.
Payment solutions also offer features that let you accept credit card payment, create forms and invoices, and scheduling functions that let you collect fees in advance or after service completion.
With this, you can manage and collect online payments efficiently.
2. Maintain solid cybersecurity
Because of the COVID-19 crisis, people are urged to avoid going out, especially to crowded places like grocery stores, and turn to online shopping to acquire their needs.
Unfortunately, millions of financial transactions happening online give hackers a chance to attack and steal money and customer details.
Which is why you need to maintain your small business cybersecurity more solid than before.
You can do that by installing, activating, and frequently updating your firewalls and anti-virus and anti-malware software programs.
Doing that ensures that no old or new versions of virus, malware, and suspicious activities can breach your network, devices, and files.
Avoid clicking links or downloading attached files in suspicious emails as they may be malicious. Strengthen your passwords by mixing numbers, symbols, and uppercase and lowercase letters.
Maximize online penetration testing tools such as the Website Vulnerability Scanner by Pentest-tools.com.
Enter your URL, and the tool yields its findings. As an example, I typed in “Amazon.com.” Here’s what came out:
The tool revealed in summary and detail its findings on the site’s risk level and whether vulnerabilities are present or absent in the HTTP cookies, server-side software, and others.
By bolstering your cybersecurity, you ensure that your ecommerce operations continue running smoothly and your profits remain intact.
3. Use video conferencing tools
You can post on message boards and drop comments on your virtual work platforms, but nothing beats real-time communication for more productive meetings, discussions, etc.
Using video conferencing tools allows you to conduct meetings online, run webinars, training, and more.
To help you find the best video conferencing software, here are some of the features to consider.
- Intuitive interface. Easy-to-use video conferencing tools let you get down to business quickly without spending too much time and energy on learning how to use the software.
- Screen sharing. Discussing complex concepts is easier with screen sharing since this allows you to share reports and illustrate crucial points to get the most out of your online meetings.
Webinar solutions such as ClickMeeting offers screen sharing options along with other video conferencing features such as a whiteboard and options to add videos, questions, and presentations.
- Chat options. A built-in chatting feature lets meeting attendees ask questions without interrupting the speaker or send in queries to answer for later.
Through video conferencing platforms, you can communicate efficiently and effectively with your team -- and even use the tools to stay in touch with your customers.
4. Employ social media marketing automation
Another way of keeping in touch with your customers is through social media sites.
However, generating leads and engaging your customers through social media marketing takes time and commitment.
Streamline your social media management workflow with tools such as Buffer.
The tool lets you create your social media posts in different platforms such as Instagram and Facebook, and set a schedule to post them automatically.
Automating your social media posts gives you and your team more time to focus on other key aspects in running your small business while managing your social media efforts efficiently.
You’ll also get valuable insights into the reach of your posts and strategy recommendations to refine your content and maximize engagement with the tool’s analytics feature.
With this, you’ll get rid of the grunt work in managing your social media campaigns and other efforts -- allowing your team to work more seamlessly and accomplish more by doing less.
5. Utilize customer messaging platforms
Maintaining communications with your clients and leads is vital, especially during the COVID-19 crisis, when people aren’t sure if your business is operational or not.
However, working remotely and at a lower capacity can make attending to hundreds, if not thousands, of your client messages a total nightmare -- which can lead to long waiting times and poor customer experience.
With Artificial Intelligence-powered platforms, you can build chatbots that help ensure you deliver prompt customer service 24/7.
This frees up your time and other resources without sacrificing the quality of your customer service delivery.
Automate but still provide personal customer experiences through chatbots that you can seamlessly integrate to your live chat providers with no coding required.
Some AI-based customer messaging platforms can also offer real-time analytics.
With this, you can track the performance of your chatbots, including the critical trends in customer behavior and inquiries, to help your chatbot learn and improve the client experience and satisfaction.
The COVID-19 crisis is placing a lot of companies at a standstill. But with the right approach, and by using the best tools, managing and maintaining continuity for your small business is achievable.
If you have tips, strategies, or questions that you’d like to share, please add them in the comments section below. Cheers!
Sam Makad is a business consultant. He helps small & medium enterprises to grow their businesses and overall ROI. You can follow Sam on Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin.