By Jordan Kasteler, vice president of marketing, Hennessey Consulting

It’s a noisy, competitive world out there. Businesses of any size have to “up their game,” if they expect to keep and grow market share. One major step in the right direction is to continually find ways to improve efficiency — both your teams and yours personally.

And that efficiency results from making use of the ever-revolutionizing technology and an increased knowledge of business operations. Here are 5 simple ways to help.

Give Certain Employees Rapid Access to Information

A 2005 Stanford University study concluded that new IT, hardware and software, improved both efficiency and productivity in the specific industry it studied.

“Small businesses have small staffs; large business have departments,” says Mathews Mathew, CEO of ePROMIS Solutions. “Employees have to have access to the information they need when they need it. Often that access has to be secure and permission-based. If you have old, slow networks that are unsecured or often down, get a cutting-edge tools and secure network with intelligent routers and switches.”

Minimize Face-to-Face Meetings

Whether in-person or over web-based conferences, a daily meeting of only 10-15 minutes will keep everyone in sync. It’s the time to discuss any issues, brainstorm and either set the tone for the day or wind things up at the end of the day.

There are a lot of interesting stats on meetings in the U.S. alone, in terms of number held (over 11 million a day), cost, level of employee disinterest (over 1/3), and complaints that they are unproductive, disorganized, and lead to no firm decisions.

Learn to Delegate

Lots of small business owners are “married” to every task that must be completed; some department heads are like that too. Even if they do give up tasks to team members, they then spend time micro-managing them. It’s time to take some time, evaluate every team member’s strengths, and delegate accordingly. You can monitor initially, but gradually back off. And your people will thank you for your trust in them.

In one case study of a small lawn care business, the owner’s deliberate decision to delegate ultimately increased sales by 50% and resulted in fewer work hours per week, as well as increased customer satisfaction. Another study of larger organizations, from the Universal Research Group, found a significant correlation between delegation/empowerment of employees and both efficiency and job satisfaction.

Introduce Self-Customer Service

Customer service is so critical today, and your competition is vying heavily for those customers. And younger customers want automated self-service customer service as much as possible. Give it to them. Self-service means that your staff can focus on those who have bigger problems that need flexible, personalized solutions.

There are some significant research statistics on customer experience/service, as follows:

  • An American Express survey found that 78% of consumers will bail on a purchase if their service experience is poor.
  • Loyal customers are critical to a business: on average, they are worth 10X as much as the first purchase they make. While you have 60-70% chance of selling more to an existing customer, you only have 5-20% of a conversion by a new customer
  • If you have an unresolved poor customer experience, it will be broadcast to twice as many people as a good one. And, it takes 12 positive experiences to negate one bad one.
  • And $41 billion is lost each year by businesses whose customer service is poor.

Take Some Action

These four tips should give you plenty to “chew on” as you look toward generating more efficiency in your business operations. Choose one or two that you can begin on right now, and work your way through the list.