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Grow your business by better connecting with customers and partners online

 As remote work and global opportunities become the new “normal”, it’s crucial to keep in touch with your clients, customers, and partners using the online services and products available to you.

Over the last decade, the internet has opened many new ways to engage with friends and family, as well as colleagues and customers, including video calls, social media, and direct messaging. By staying current with these transformative advancements in technology, your business can be well-positioned for success.

A stable and reliable internet connection underpins these digital interactions, and this is where Openserve, South Africa’s foremost fibre network provider, plays a pivotal role by providing fast and stable connections and keeping your business connected, even during scheduled and unscheduled power cuts.

Let’s dive into some of the powerful but accessible online options and services that can help your business get, keep, and stay connected with your customers and partners to give you the edge over the competition.

In each section we give you an idea of the different ways that you can connect with other parties, and then provide a list of potential services, products or solutions that you might want to investigate – but it’s still well worth doing some of your own research to find even more options that may perfectly suit your needs.

Bridging the divide with video

Whether it’s for collaborating with your own staff remotely or connecting with clients online, video calling services like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Meet are indispensable for businesses looking to maintain personal connections without the barriers of distance.

Understanding the pros and cons of each service, how they can work with other tools you use, and how easy they are for you and/or your team to use can make a big difference. Whether your business is big or small, finding the right way to talk and work together online can really help your business run better and keep everyone connected no matter where they are.

There are a variety of options to choose from, both paid and free, so it’s important to investigate which service works best for your budget and needs.

Video and conference services worth looking into:

  • Zoom: Ideal for video conferencing and webinars.
  • Microsoft Teams: Great for team collaboration and meetings.
  • Google Meet: Suitable for secure business meetings and team calls.
  • Skype: Good for personal and business communication worldwide.
  • Cisco Webex: Excellent for professional video conferencing and online meetings.

Streamlined scheduling

These days, business moves fast and finding times that are convenient for all parties can be an unwelcome hurdle.

Applications like Calendly and Doodle make arranging meetings more efficient, freeing up you and your team to focus more on client interaction rather than administrative tasks. These tools simplify finding mutually convenient times, and can make a big difference when you’re losing a lot of time to scheduling-related admin.

Scheduling services worth looking into:

  • Calendly: Simplifies scheduling by allowing others to book time with you.
  • Doodle: Helps find the best time for group meetings.
  • Microsoft Bookings: Ideal for businesses wanting to provide services by appointment.
  • Acuity Scheduling: Allows clients to schedule appointments, complete with reminders.
  • Google Calendar: Keeps your schedule organized and integrates with other Google services.

Personal communication with direct and chat messaging

Services like WhatsApp Business and Facebook Messenger represent an excellent opportunity for small to medium-sized businesses to communicate directly via channels that their customer base may already be very active on, and comfortable with.

Services often feature automated messages, quick replies, and contacting organisations within a secure messaging environment, enhancing customer service and building trust through those personalised kinds of engagements.

Direct messaging and chat services worth looking into:

  • WhatsApp Business: Enhances customer service with direct messaging.
  • Facebook Messenger: Connects businesses with customers on Facebook.
  • Telegram: Offers secure messaging for private communication and includes potentially powerful automation bots.
  • Viber: Good for reaching customers with messages and promotions.
  • Signal: Good for secure, private messaging.

Engagement through social media

Social media platforms, like direct messaging apps, offer real-time engagement channels, except they also enable businesses to share updates to wide audiences, offer direct support, grow communities and even run advertising campaigns.

Different social media platforms also tend to lean towards certain audiences and demographics. For example, if your business, services or products are targeting a young, energetic audience, you may be more likely going to reach your market effectively on platforms like TikTok and Instagram than on LinkedIn (and vice versa).

Choosing the platforms that align with your business strategy is crucial to efficiently and effectively target your efforts and budget. Up-front research and understanding of each platform are valuable, but you may need to test the waters directly and find where you’re able to connect with your audience the best.

Social media platforms services worth looking into:

Targeted email marketing

Email marketing platforms provide a means to communicate directly with your customer base, promoting content, products, and events. This approach facilitates direct engagement with customers and the evaluation of your campaign’s impact.

Email marketing services often include drag-and-drop builders that let you easily create and style mailers that look good and reflect your branding, as well as systems that help you to manage your audience and gain insights from your campaign analytics.

Email marketing services worth looking into:

  • Mailchimp: Email marketing campaigns and automation.
  • Constant Contact: Email marketing with extensive templates and tools.
  • Brevo: Email, SMS, chat and more.
  • Campaign Monitor: Creates beautiful, effective email marketing campaigns.
  • AWeber: Email marketing and automation for small businesses.

Learn about your customers with analytic tools

Gaining insights into customer behaviour is essential, and analytic tools like Google Analytics and Hotjar offer valuable perspectives on how users interact with your website or digital offerings.

These insights allow you to adjust your online presence to better meet your customers’ needs, thereby improving their satisfaction and loyalty. These services take a little bit of work to set up and understand, but the value of the insights could well be worth the time and energy. If you’re struggling to get to grips with the systems, you may want to work with a small team or agency to help you with set up and reporting.

Analytics services worth looking into:

  • Google Analytics: Web analytics for tracking and reporting website traffic.
  • Hotjar: Understands how users behave on your website.
  • Adobe Analytics: Advanced analytics for marketing and web performance.
  • Mixpanel: Analyses user interaction on websites and mobile apps.
  • Crazy Egg: Visualizes where visitors click and scroll on your site.

Instant support via online chat

Online chat and support platforms deliver immediate assistance, enhancing customer satisfaction and potentially increasing sales through real-time interaction.

Being able to quickly help your customers online is very important in certain industries where the customers expect instant support. Online chat and support platforms let you talk to your customers right when they need help. Make and keep customers happy by solving their problems fast. As a bonus, happy customers may end up buying more from you over time.

Instant support and chat services worth looking into:

  • LiveChat: Provides online customer service with live support.
  • Zendesk: Customer service software with integrated support.
  • Free messaging app to monitor and chat with visitors.
  • Intercom: Connects you with customers through messaging.
  • Freshdesk: Online customer support and ticketing system.

Giving you the best opportunity for online growth

Utilising online tools for video calls, efficient scheduling, gaining customer insights, engaging on social media, conducting targeted email marketing, and providing instant online support significantly improves customer relations and business growth.

None of these great tools will be worth anything if you don’t have a fast, stable internet connection to keep you connected. Openserve offers more than just an internet connection; it provides the infrastructure your business needs to excel in the digital arena.

With a dependable connection that remains operational even during load shedding and unexpected power outages, free installation and even 30 days of free connectivity for new fibre connections, Openserve ensures that South African businesses are equipped for the digital future.

Openserve is a proud National Partner of the NSBC

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