It’s that time of year again when we sit down and reflect on the current state of our businesses and plan for the new year. If you’re looking for ways to make the new year, try one of these five New Year’s resolutions.

1. Engage More with your Employees

One of the key factors to running a successful business is knowing how to engage with your employees. If you are a small business owner or leader in a small organization, understanding the level of passion your workforce has for the job can keep you a step ahead of the competition. Companies with engaged employees see 233% greater customer loyalty and a 26% greater annual increase in revenue (Aberdeen).

As a leader, you want your employees to feel engaged in the work they do. Employees who are proud of what they do and the company they work for are 4.6 times more likely to feel empowered to perform their best (Salesforce). So, it’s essential to look at every aspect of why people do the work they do and what drives them to do it.

If you are a manager, getting to know your employees will be vital to evaluate your team’s engagement successfully. Everything from their backgrounds to their hobbies, skill sets, and family life, end up influencing their performance and your workplace. Get to know your employees so you can cultivate a productive and positive environment.

2. Improve Customer Experience

What is customer experience? Customer experience is your customers’ perception of the customer journey. How easy was it to find what they needed, purchase it, and how good was your service along the way? These perceptions affect their future behaviors by building memories and feelings about your brand. In other words, if you can persuade them to like you and nurture that relationship, they will do business with you and recommend you to others.

According to a Walker study, 86% of buyers are willing to pay more for a great customer experience. It is said that by 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator. Therefore, customers no longer base their loyalty on price or product. Instead, they stay loyal to companies due to the experience they receive. If you cannot meet your customers where they are, you risk losing them to a brand that can.

So how do we improve customer experience?

Create a clear customer experience strategy: Have a clear customer-focused approach and share it with your organization. Solicit the help of employees who deal with customers regularly to build this vision.

Understand who your customers are: With the help of your ‘client-facing’ employees, build unique customer profiles that tell who your customers are and what they want. If your organization is going to understand customer needs and wants, they need to connect and empathize with the situations your customers face.

Create an emotional connection with your customers: Have you heard the phrase, “it’s not what you say, but how you make them feel?” The best customer experiences are achieved when your brand creates an emotional connection with a customer. At XcelHR, when we onboard a new client, we send them a welcome gift package that says, “we are glad you are part of the family.” To further express how much we care about them, we check on them regularly to ensure they are satisfied with our services. We call them once a week and visit with them once a month. This is our way of nurturing our connection to our clients.

Capture customer feedback in real-time: How can you tell if you deliver a ‘wow’ experience? You simply need to ask – and ideally, you should do this in real-time. Use surveys after interaction with your customers. Post-interaction surveys and similar tools can be delivered using automated tools like email and texts. And, of course, you can always keep it simple and make outbound calls to customers to gain more insightful feedback. It’s important to tie customer feedback to a specific interaction. This shows every employee the difference they are making.

3. Simplify your Business Processes

As a small business owner, you often find yourself pulled in several directions, forced to be an expert in everything. You’re the marketing team, salesperson, customer service rep, and inventory manager. Managing everything and being good at it is close to impossible. So, here’s our recommendation:

1) Eliminate redundant tasks or procedures that delay essential operations in your business. Focus on what’s important, and do it well.

2) Know your limitations, outsource tasks someone could do better, and focus on what you do best. If you need help with payroll and HR, outsource it to a vendor; if you’re not a social media pro, hire a digital marketing professional to your team. Focus your time and energy where it will have the most significant impact.

4. Focus on Quality, not Quantity

Many Small business owners tend to focus their energy on growth. They aim to acquire new business, explore new markets, and expand their customer base every year. In striving to achieve sustainable, profitable growth, it’s easy for business owners to take their eye off the business basics, which can undermine them and effectively kill their hard-earned growth. For example, A business owner may receive an influx of business within a short period of time. They hire inadequate part-time help to meet market demand instead of turning down business. In the process, the services’ quality suffers and tarnishes their reputation.

Instead of focusing on business growth, build a brand that emphasizes quality of services. Establish an enterprise that hires ‘select’ employees, offers’ select’ services to a ‘select’ target market. Guinness Book of World Records recognized car salesman Joe Girard as the world’s greatest salesman for selling over 14,000 cars in a span of less than 15 years. His secret sauce was maintaining a personal connection with his customers long after that first sale. Joe Girard would send a greeting card to his customers every month without fail. Each card would simply read, “I like you.” In 2022, focus on nurturing the relationships you have developed. This strategy may not provide fruit overnight but will bring a more significant long-term reward (#clientreferrals).

5. Automate or Digitize some of your work processes

Have you heard the phrase “digitize and save time?” It is a belief adopted several years ago when major technological breakthroughs revolutionized how we conduct business. Through technological advancement, we have been given the ability to simplify our lives so we can focus on what matters most in our lives and business.

The automation of major business operations enabled many small businesses to flourish. In 2017, Salesforce surveyed 500 small business owners who employed less than 200 employees. Their study found that small businesses that automated their processes were 1.6 times more likely to grow than those that didn’t. Therefore, if you want to accelerate the growth of your business in 2020, make sure to utilize the latest technology on the market to increase productivity in your organization. By doing so, you will save time and decrease cost– and your employees will appreciate you for it. 92% of employees say that having the technology to do their job efficiently positively affects their work satisfaction (Ultimate Software).

Many free apps and software products are available online that help streamlines and automate some of your back-end office processes. These products will help you produce consistent, accurate, and timely information for your clients and employees.

We hope these ideas have inspired you to make the year an awesome one! We understand that these goals may be challenging to achieve, but if you succeed in applying them, you will significantly impact your company’s bottom line. Goodbye 2021 and hello 2022!