Mar 20, 2018

5 Ways to Work Smarter, not harder, in 2018

5 Ways to Work Smarter, not harder, in 2018
BY Peggy Nordeen


Reprinted from South Florida Business Journal.

Technology can make us more efficient – or it can hungrily eat into our time and patience. Here are five suggestions to continually adapt, plan and integrate technology to make your work – and your workplace – smarter this year.

Roadmap with change in mind

First, what’s the plan for 2018? A year is a long time, and change is bound to happen. Agile methodology emphasizes roadmaps that can respond to change over rigidly following a plan. Roadmapping involves your entire team and disburses the responsibilities to the experts in the room to take ownership and implement their parts of the plan – in a way that allows for change as the year goes on. If necessary, you can hire a consultant to facilitate the process. You’ll sleep better at night when you’re continually on track with your technology training, data security, cloud storage, backups, updates and everything else you need to do to meet your 2018 goals.

Analyze and integrate systems

Next, look at integrating more of your systems. Determine processes that can be streamlined or semi-automated to save time and money. For example, analyze the customer questions that come into your company from calls or emails for opportunities to update your website or proactively disseminate information to your customers on a timely basis. Take an opportunity to also review your customer relationship management (CRM) programs. For example, one customer service representative can handle four chat sessions in the time it takes to field one telephone call. More importantly, chat is the communications preference for millennials, and chatting time has skyrocketed on smartphones, even for business marketers.

Keep content fresh and frequent

Review both the frequency and quality of your content management programs in social media, your blogs and your website. Information builds customer relationships and loyalty, as well as your search engine rankings. Most statistics say that nearly 75 percent of the readership of your articles or postings occurs the first day and, by the end of the week your readership numbers drop 90 percent. So, it’s critical to keep your information fresh and frequent. You can include a calendar of content in your Agile plan so you or your marketing department can keep pace efficiently.

Try a shiny new thing

We live in the world of the shiniest new thing dominating attention. However, it’s good to judiciously take advantage of the attraction of new technologies as they relate to your products or services. So, consider pushing the envelope with something new to stimulate sales in 2018. This coming year, there are many to choose from.

Alexa’s (not to mention Google Home’s) market coverage got an amazing boost this holiday season. Already popular as a home assistant, the proliferation of the Echo Dot has added opportunity for businesses to create and sponsor skills complementary to their products and services. Fun, buzzworthy smartphone apps are another option to try. If you want to take a deep dive into a new, disruptive technology, there is the opportunity to be first in “augmented reality” projects that are already proving very effective in training, manufacturing and field services. Trying new technologies is often more expensive than waiting a year or two, but the advantage is always the increased attention and leadership positioning that come with being first to market.

Examine the customer journey

Testing and tweaking your sales funnel is not as exciting as something new – until you look at your bottom line. Take time for an in-depth review of your buyer’s journey. Implement real-time feedback on your website. Small changes can garner major results, giving you time to celebrate instead of wasting time wondering what happened.

The care and feeding of the technology and its use in your workplace can make 2018 a brighter year for you and your business – certainly a competitive advantage.