Modern Business Tech

As technology becomes ever more sophisticated, businesses everywhere are developing capabilities they never had in the past. Not only are many functions easier for small and large businesses alike, but tech is also making the business landscape much more competitive.

Your ability to stay in business -- and stay competitive -- over the next few years may depend on your willingness to adopt and integrate new technologies into your operations. Take a look at three tools that every modern business needs, and how you can go about finding the best provider for each.

1. Customer relationship management software

Customer relationship management (CRM) software is a broad phrase used to describe a category of software that helps businesses keep track of customer interactions, data, sales, service, and other items. Essentially, it helps companies manage customer relationships in an organized, streamlined manner that requires the least amount of manual intervention.

Instead of hiring an entire department of people to manage customers, firms now hire only a handful of employees to oversee operations, because they’re backed by CRM.

However, the reduced need for human capital is not the primary reason to incorporate CRM into your business. The advantages extend far beyond that.

Some of the biggest benefits include:

Centralization. CRM does away with the need to install multiple programs and store data in various locations. It’s all about centralization and organization. A high-quality CRM solution enables your firm to manage everything from customer complaints and calls to historical data and future predictions, all in a single place.

• Accurate metrics. If you’re still making assumptions based on your intuition and rudimentary calculations, you’re probably missing out. CRM software can provide instant metrics for dozens of different facets of your business.

• Better focus. Managing customer relationships is time-consuming, yet vital. Instead of wasting all your time dealing with customer relationships (or avoiding them altogether) CRM software lets you spend time on other areas of your business while still managing your relationships.

2. Automated accounting software

For small business owners in particular, automated accounting software can be a lifesaver. Not only does it save time and money, but it also ensures accuracy and compliance.

Over the past few years, automated accounting software has evolved, and solutions have become much more cost-effective and reliable.

3. Credit card payment processing system

B2C businesses may discover that a flexible credit card payment processing system that captures payments instantly is highly advantageous and very useful. These systems allow your business to accept credit card payments through multiple avenues: online, in store, and on the go.

What to look for in a provider

Each of these software solutions and systems requires an upfront payment; and it may sometimes be a costly one. However, the benefits will most likely far outweigh the initial expenses down the road.

When you’re looking for a provider, weigh the following aspects:

• Experience. How much experience does the provider have? As is the case with any business, more experience usually means better quality and expertise.

• Ease of use. How intuitive is the software or system? Unless you have prior experience working with a similar technology, the learning curve can be steep. Find one that’s simple and easy to use.

• Customer service. When things go wrong or you don’t understand how to operate a particular feature, customer service is your best friend. Make sure your provider offers complimentary customer service.

This article excerpt, by Anna Johansson, originally appeared here: