Tech tools supporting business growth

technology business growth

Jim Penman, founder and CEO of Jim’s Group. Image: Supplied.

Three decades ago, the technology behind many business tools we now take for granted was just in its infancy. From Nokia’s first mobile phone to Google.com, a lot happened in the 1990s that a modern business would now be hard pressed to operate without.

Keeping up with technology and the rapid developments can be overwhelming, but those businesses that can see the opportunities it brings are the ones that continue to grow and meet the demands of a digital savvy customer-base.

For entrepreneur and business leader Jim Penman, founder and CEO of Jim’s Group, the enormous growth his business has seen since it started in 1989 has been to continually look to emerging technology to improve the customer experience.

“The biggest key to success in business is not having a brilliant idea — it’s the attitude that you look at your business every day and say, how can I do it better? Using technology is a prime example of that,” he says.

Starting small

While technology has moved rapidly and there are some complicated tools out there — no matter the size of the business there is likely to be a digital solution to a more efficient way to do things.

For example, in the 1990s, it was very hard to find leads, says Penman. “I had people out door knocking to find work for lawn mower contractors.”

Fast forward 20 years and due to an unwavering focus on customer service and by using technology to find out what customers and franchisees want has meant the company has cut back on advertising and sees more than 240,000 un-serviced leads come through the head office each year.

We measure customer service, we measure franchisees satisfaction, we measure everything and technology is a real key to that,” says Penman. 

The way the company does this is no more complicated than using mobile phone technology.

“It’s as simple as sending out a survey via SMS and using that as a feedback mechanism. It has improved the level of customer satisfaction and given franchisees enormous motivation.”

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Listen to the customer

Victoria Webster, CX specialist at Amazon Web Services says Penman’s customer-centric approach is key to business growth.

“Those customer conversations are really a gold mine, it’s where your customers will tell you their wants, needs and desires. It helps you work out where you can improve, what channel they want to use and how they want you to interact with them,” says Webster.

Another example Penman gives is how to use technology to reduce the time spent on administrative tasks, which can then free up a business owner to focus on other areas of the business — such as increasing market share. 

“We are working on a system which will allow a customer to book directly onto a franchisee’s diary. So instead of having to ring and leave a message and then wait for a call back, the customer can see there is a spot available between 2-4pm today and book it straight away,” says Penman.

Not only is it good for business efficiencies, says Webster, it is also what customers want. 

“That’s where the market’s moving. It’s all about self-service and digital deflection where possible. People want to easily transact basic things rather than wait an hour and a half on the phone to talk to someone, especially if they just need a piece of information.”

The sky’s the limit

Continuous innovation around cloud-based software solutions and increased competition for market share have now made sophisticated technological tools available and affordable to smaller businesses. 

The most obvious and immediate savings for many comes from not having to invest in data centres in the first place, or hiring IT support to take care of the hardware.

It wasn’t always the case, says Webster. Prohibitive costs and complicated algorithms kept it in the realm of big business.

“Only five years ago if you wanted to have speech analytics or voice biometrics or any new, exciting AI services, you had to be a large enterprise because it was such a costly endeavour. It’s been democratised and is now possible for all sizes of business.” 

Penman says there is no doubt using a cloud computing platform has assisted with the company’s growth in several ways, including providing reliable data security.

“It is a lot more cost effective to use a cloud computing platform than using your own servers. Another benefit is scalability – we have various things in mind that could dramatically increase the size of our business and the great thing about the cloud is that there’s no limit.”

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Amazon Web Services

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is the world’s most comprehensive and broadly adopted cloud platform, offering over 175 fully featured services from data centres globally. Millions of customers — including the fastest-growing startups, largest enterprises, and leading government agencies — are using AWS to lower costs, become more agile, and innovate faster. Whether you're looking for compute power, database storage or content delivery, AWS has the services to help you build sophisticated applications with increased flexibility, scalability and reliability.

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