Customers are often more comfortable with voice search because asking questions comes more naturally than typing text into a search box, writes Nikki Gilliland. Altogether, voice technology is poised to provide the means for a single e-commerce interface that can replace apps, websites and mobile checkouts.
Small businesses should look for customer-relationship management platforms that automate sales, marketing and customer service processes. In addition, it's important to find a CRM that offers basic tools while remaining user-friendly.
A study of customer interactions with airlines and wireless carriers suggests that responding to customers' comments, even when they are negative, can have a positive effect on your brand. Some problems cannot be fixed, but providing a response in these situations still seems to lead to more positive outcomes, the researchers note.
Left Hand Soap, which has sold soaps and other hygiene and grooming products for almost 19 years, is moving into a new, larger location in downtown Tuscaloosa, Ala. The company's founder came up with the idea for the business after giving homemade soap to family and friends at Christmas.
If you've received a "no" from the banks, you should do five specific things before trying again, writes Jared Hecht, co-founder and CEO of Fundera. Among them: request a clear explanation, check your credit reports and be willing to consider alternative loan products.
Julie Burleson, founder and CEO of Young Chefs Academy, turned her love of family and cooking into a children's cooking school franchise with 30 locations in seven countries. "The idea that I could build a business by bringing families together excited me, pushing me to succeed," she said.
Setting clear goals is key for making sure everyone within a business is on the same page, said BrightStar Care CEO Shelly Sun, CFE, who is also IFA Chair. "The only way to hold people accountable and to help them develop, is if people know exactly what is expected of them, and it can't be subjective, it has to be objective," she said.
Foodservice franchises should try to draw in consumers from Generation Z, a group that spent an estimated $78 billion at restaurants in 2016, writes Kevin Valdez, co-founder of GroupRaise. Members of this generation have an adventurous streak when it comes to food and are quick to turn to social sites such as Instagram and Snapchat to share their experiences, he writes.
Labor policy has changed course under the Trump administration, but some observers say action from Congress is needed to fully address the joint-employer standard and other issues. "The Senate should exercise its power to create certainty in legal precedent for franchises and all businesses, which are facing a great deal of uncertainty," said IFA's Matt Haller.
The move to eliminate net neutrality will hurt influencer marketing, an industry dominated by women, Tiffany Romero writes. She argues that net neutrality principles have helped women create communities, become more educated and build strong businesses while balancing family responsibilities.