3 Business Basics to Remember in 2024

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The digital world is obsessed with trends. Trending videos, sounds, images, backgrounds — you name it. Trends change overnight and without notice; act quickly or you’ll be left in the dust by the algorithm.

As much as capitalizing on a successful trend can lift your business, many small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) would benefit from shifting their attention from Hail Marys to the basics of business building. These are principles that no matter the social media platform, algorithm or brand, don’t go out of style. They were here yesterday, and they’ll be even more valuable tomorrow.

Let’s dive into a few of the basics that will benefit every SMB in 2024.

Related: The 5 Fundamentals for Growing Your Startup

1. Responsiveness

We all have that friend who leaves us on “read” for days at a time. We may act like it doesn’t hurt our feelings or impact our relationship, but it does.

It’s no different in business. Responsiveness to your customers shows respect and prioritization to them. By responding quickly to their needs, you let them know that they will be taken care of and that their problem is your problem. This will naturally benefit retention.

“One of our company core values is “radically serve others” and all of our customer-facing teams truly take this to heart. This is more than evident when we review our weekly metrics and see our average customer response time low and customer satisfaction rating high every week,” shares Jerry Tsai, President of Acceptd.

Make this a company value by putting metrics around response time. This can include how quickly your team responds to emails, customer service requests or phone calls.

2. Be a person

Hard to believe this qualifies as advice in 2024, but with everything digital, automated and AI-powered, you’ll find customers are, more often than not, sick of talking to a robot — or even worse, a customer service rep with the personality of one.

Last year while working in operations for a startup, I handled customer service requests for about a month. My responses were quick and not overly formal, clearly written by a human being. You’d have thought I was curing the world from all its pains based on the feedback I received from people.

I also found it interesting that people were far more respectful and reasonable, given that it didn’t feel like they were talking to a customer service representative as much as they were a person who was here to help them.

Teach your team that, as much as professionalism matters, so does coming across as a real person who wants to help people. Measure the success of your customer service interactions with a survey to understand how one method of engagement might be better than another.

Of course, this recommendation does come with caveats. Being personable doesn’t cover unprofessional, inappropriate or unhelpful support.

Related: 5 Ways to Show Your Customers You Understand Them in a Digital-First World

3. Follow up

We’re always looking for the next best thing. And with that comes forgetting about leads or prospects that fell through the cracks. If you’re not systematically following up with prospects, you’re losing business.

“People are doing more research than ever and earlier than ever, meaning they might not be ready to move forward when they initially reach out. We found that ⅓ of our leads weren’t converting for 2+ months after their first inquiry. That shows the power of following up even months after their first contact,” says Oakwood Management CEO Keith Jones.

If your business is digital-first, extend your automated email sequence another month or two. If your business is lead-generation, this means setting up reminders to call and email prospects until you know they’re not in the market for your service anymore.

“Prospects often have many different priorities, and knowing that you care enough to check in with them regularly goes a long way in establishing trust,” adds Sriharsha Guduguntla, Hyperbound CEO.

Trust is developed over time — one reason why following up weeks or months down the road can be such a high-value investment. It shows prospects you are diligent and process-oriented. Bonus points if you can personalize your outreach as much as possible so they know you care and remember their specific circumstance.

Related: 4 Insane Truths About Failing to Follow-up

These tips won’t take your business to the moon or help you go viral. They aren’t talked about on social media by influencers or business gurus. They have been lost in a sea of distractions and trends that pop up one day and disappear the next. That’s the biggest benefit of following these tips. They are so rare that you instantly distinguish yourself from your competitors by getting the basics right.

Do the basics at a high level for long enough, and you’ll see the results compound through higher retention, better conversion rates, more word of mouth and a stronger business foundation.

From there, you’ll find you may not even need to chase the latest trends to be successful. Simply focusing on serving your customers is unique enough to achieve success.

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