HOW TO ENSURE CUSTOMER RELATIONS ARE MAINTAINED DURING COVID-19?

The world is not what it used to be since the Coronavirus outbreak. The virus has distorted the daily lives of millions of people across the globe. Social distancing, travel restrictions, work from home – are becoming the new normal. To gain customers’ trust, companies should understand the buyers and their requirements in this unprecedented environment.

Why is maintaining customer relations essential?

Good customer relationships can help a company to grow. As with personal relationships, creating and nurturing customer relationships is essential as well. When organizations develop strong customer relationships, it can lead to loyal customers, positive word of mouth, and higher sales.

What are the customers expecting from you?

For your company’s long-term well-being, you should put the needs of your customers first. Customers will always prioritize their safety and that of their families. They expect businesses to understand their shopping style, keep essentials well-stocked, be treated as a valued customer, and get benefits even in these hard times.

How to maintain customer relations in the pandemic?

  • Maintain hygiene: The safety of the customers should be the priority of any business concern. Therefore, businesses should keep their stores thoroughly sanitized. When a customer goes to the store, there should be provisions for social distancing and contactless operations to reduce the risk of contracting the virus.
  • Communicate with the customers: In the wake of the pandemic, everyone is in distress and fear. In such times, if a company can keep communicating with its customers, they will feel considered and cared for. By maintaining contact with its customers, the company can also stay informed about the customers’ needs and wants through feedback, thereby stocking inventory accordingly.
  • Make them feel special and valued: By storing customer information such as important dates, companies can surprise their customers with gift vouchers, coupons, gift hampers for special occasions such as birthdays and anniversaries. They can even send over medicines for the aged family members of the customers. Such little things can increase customer loyalty.
  • Understand what customers are looking for: Businesses can identify the needs and wants of its customers through research and surveys.
  • Added benefits: In these hard times, companies can give their customers free masks and sanitizers with the items they purchase.

It is important for a company to bear in mind the immediate needs of its customers during the Coronavirus crisis. By maintaining strong customer relationships, companies can ensure sustainability and brand loyalty while running their businesses in these challenging times.

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Three Ways to Improve Your Business Credit Score

Small business owners often have to go an extra mile to ensure the consistent growth and success of their ventures. They must work hard in dealing with their customers and suppliers. They also need to come up with innovative ways to market their products and services. In their efforts to polish the customer-facing, technical and marketing aspects, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) often overlook the attention that their creditworthiness requires, which is vital to their chances of getting business loans.

If all goes well for the business and it is able to get a constant stream of customers, its position in the industry will be strengthened. This, in turn, opens doors for business finance from banks, conventional non-banking finance companies (NBFCs) and the new age NBFCs in the form of FinTech lenders. However, a few clever methods help in improving the prospects for business funding.

If you are an entrepreneur with a promising business idea that is backed by adequate possibilities for success, you must take it forward. To improve your chances of getting a loan for business expansion, here are the three points that you can pay heed to:

1- Make timely payments on your bills and clear outstanding credit 

Financial discipline is the key to success when you are managing a commercially motivated organisation. In business, you may have to make regular payments to your suppliers and vendors. These ought to be made on time.

With frequent delays on the payment of your outstanding invoices, you may hurt your prospects for being qualified for business loans. A late payment on bills can damage your financial records, particularly if it gets reported to business credit scores rating agencies such as CIBIL.

If you had missed a couple of payments, but later managed to catch up with the regular cycle, the delayed payments may have had some adverse impact on your credit ratings. However, the damage is not permanent. As credit scores are a reflection of activities over a period, it can take some time for the new data to set in and replace the older information. The credit score will gradually improve to reflect your eligibility for business finance.

The focus should be on making payments on bills before they are due. This is not only a good habit that will help your business get higher credit ratings, but will also improve your relationships with the suppliers and vendors. If you have severe financial constraints, you can use strategies such as invoice financing. (Link to relevant product page can be placed here)

In addition to the bills raised by entities dealing with your company, payments on credit cards and existing loans should also be made on time. Most importantly, keep all the receipts against payment safely in your records.

2- Use credit prudently

The FinTech revolution has given access to fast business loans and has made it convenient for SMEs to expand their presence in the market. If you can demonstrate the ability to use your loan for business wisely, it will only improve your business credit rating and will help you borrow bigger amounts in future.

Funds must be used for the purpose that was stated to procure them. If you have taken a loan for business activities – such as paying a vendor, buying raw material or inventory, refurbishing a storefront – it must be used accordingly. Do not use business finance for personal expenses. The mixing of personal funds with those for business can happen unknowingly at times, especially for start-ups and sole proprietorships, but the two should be separated as soon as possible. This helps in improving the credit history records considerably.

Another point to understand here is – if your business has credit accounts in good standing, but you barely use them, do not be tempted to close such accounts. They may come to the rescue of your business plans in future. What is more, the closure of any account trims down the total amount of credit that may be available for your company, and conversely, increases the ratio of credit utilisation stats – this change of numbers will negatively impact the credit score.

When the debt load is haphazardly scattered in multiple accounts, you should work on reordering it so that there are smaller balances on different accounts. Once you are able to make regular payments on them, it will gain you credit for paying off more than one outstanding balance.

3- Avoid taking hasty or risky decisions 

When you are managing a business and dealing with people from different fields every day, you will have your own experiences and learn to do things differently. Keep a vigil on the financial situation of your organisation even if you have hired accountants to manage your finances. Decide upon the figures that you aim to achieve and know what it will imply for the health, bottom line and future prospects of your business. This helps to maintain focus and financial discipline.

Avoid the risks that can affect your business credit scores. Some activities such as dealing with other companies of dubious nature not only harm your brand image, but also deter your business finance providers. Keep away from inherently risky operations that can cause financial stress in future.

Lastly, if you spot any mistake in your credit history records, do not hesitate to get it amended or inform your prospective lender. If you had paid off a bill in time but it was shown to be outstanding by the concerned entity, divulge the receipts to make corrections and prove your point. As a FinTech company offering quick loans to small and medium enterprises, Capital Float is on a mission to promote the spirit of entrepreneurship in India. Our process of evaluating the creditworthiness of a business is concise, lucid and clear-cut. It enables a high number of businesses to get timely funds. Capital Float also guides start-ups and growing companies in improving their prospects for bigger loans in future. Visit our website to find the best product that suits your business need.

Oct 24, 2018

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Coding Guidelines: Programmer’s Daily Bread and Butter

As we work in startup, we are under time pressure to release a lot of new features on time, features which do not have well defined requirements and the complexity of those features is often underestimated and we end up taking a lot of shortcuts / adding hacks to release such time sensitive features.

This may work for a short time, but over the period of time we realize that the same shortcuts that you took to release features quickly are now slowing you down. You can not scale and add new features on top of it, even if you do, they become quite unstable. In this situation you might want to take a step back and revamp/refactor you base system.

One of the easiest things that you can do to avoid this situation is follow coding guidelines.

Coding Standards

Well, what according to you is a good code? The simple definition could be: if it can’t be understood, maintained and extended by other developers then its definitely not a good code. The computer doesn’t care whether your code is readable. It’s better at reading binary machine instructions than it is at reading high-level-language statements. You write readable code because it helps other developers to read your code.

Naming conventions:

As the name suggests, it is a simple concept where you follow a specific naming conventions across teams. This becomes important when your team is growing and are solving problems on daily basis and pushing a lot of code every day.

camelcases vs underscore

This helps a lot when your team becomes big and a lot of developers are working on the same code-base. If you follow some fixed patterns while defining classes/functions/variables names, it becomes really easy for fellow colleagues to understand your code. This directly impacts delivery time taken by a developer to build/modify a feature on top of existing code. For example, let us suppose you want to define a time-stamp field in a database table, how would you name it ? If you have a fixed pattern like a “action_ts” or “action_at” for giving names then you can easily guess what could be the field name in the schema. If its a created time-stamp then it could be either “created_at” or “created_ts”. You do not have to go and check every-time you writing any logic over different database tables.

Function/Module/API writing (Size and Purpose)

Simplicity and readability counts. It’s always better to write to concise code than a messier one so that if any other developer is also looking at it who has no idea, should get what exactly it is doing. Not more than max 10–15 lines. Jenkins is considered as one of the greatest implementations, and has average function length of 2 lines.

A function/module should only do ONE thing and should do it NICELY. By following this, code becomes modular and it helps a lot in debugging. You can solve the problem better and debug faster when you know where exactly it’s coming.

When you are developing features over an established products, more than 50% times, new requirements are of the nature which you can build on top of existing code. In such cases, you can ship those requirements really faster and stable if existing code-base is modular and stable. Writing library functions a savior. There are countless advantages of writing a library code. It avoids code repetition, no surprises when it comes to response formats and of-course code re-usability.

Exception/Error Handling

Unknown errors are real pain in developers life. It’s always better if you know probable exceptions and errors in code in advance. But that is not the case always. Irrespective of all this, you definitely do not want your end-users to see unexpected errors on their screens.

When you have different micro-services and bigger development teams, if you follow standard response formats for across APIs and standard exceptions then there will not be any surprises in production. You can agree upon one format across all the services. Every API can have certain ‘response_data’ and standard set of error-codes. Every Exception will have an error-code and a message. Message could have variation viz, tech specific message and user facing message.

Writing test cases:

If you want to have a good night sleep, then you better have thorough test cases covering almost all aspects of your code. The best way forward with building test cases is at requirement stage only. Whenever a requirement comes, products managers discuss it with developers as well as QA. Both teams start preparing for possible use-cases and test-cases.

A testing unit should focus on one tiny bit of functionality and prove it correct. Each test unit must be fully independent. Each test must be able to run alone, and also within the test suite, regardless of the order that they are called. The implication of this rule is that each test must be loaded with a fresh data-set and may have to do some cleanup afterwards.

Automation plays an important role here. What else is needed for stable product where you have all test cases covered and running at intervals automatically, giving you a report of the all functionalities. Also, whenever you are adding/modifying code, you make sure either you write new test cases or modify existing ones.

coding

Code Reviews:

This one thing save lives, trust me! Every team can benefit from code reviews regardless of development methodology. Initially it takes time if you do not have a procedure setup of doing code reviews, but eventually it becomes a habit. Code review should be one of the core development steps.

Code review generally is about:

  • Does the new code conform to existing style guidelines?
  • Does the written piece of code covers all the use-cases specified in the requirements and has relevant test cases written ?
  • Are the new automated tests sufficient for the new code? Do existing automated tests need to be rewritten to account for changes in the code?

There are several advantages of this process such as –

Code reviews make for better estimates: Estimation is a team exercise, and the team makes better estimates as product knowledge is spread across the team. As new features are added to the existing code, the original developer can provide good feedback and estimation. In addition, any code reviewer is also exposed to the complexity, known issues, and concerns of that area of the code base. The code reviewer, then, shares in the knowledge of the original developer of that part of the code base.

Code reviews mentor new joiners: Code reviews help facilitate conversations about the code base between team members. During these conversations, team members share their views and new alternatives of doing things.

Code reviews take time: It’s an incremental process, where it takes time initially but as your code-base grows, it ensures, you are always pushing verified and tested code.

Hidden truth about code reviews: When developers know their code will be reviewed by a teammate, they make an extra effort to ensure that all tests are passing and the code is as well-designed as they can make it so the review will go smoothly. That mindfulness also tends to make the coding process itself go smoother and, ultimately, faster.

As a fast growing company our self, these set of guidelines have helped us a lot in shipping stable features on time and helping to increase a healthy learning environment.

Source:- Capital Float’s Medium Blog

Oct 24, 2018

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GIFF – Redefining Business Finance for SMEs

A global economy is characterised not only by the free movement of goods and services but, more importantly, by the free movement of ideas and of capital.”     ~ George Soros

As a fully digitized lending platform, Capital Float provides flexible credit products to small and medium enterprises that are working towards achieving business growth. The Great Indian Finance Festival (GIFF) has been initiated to add further impetus to this objective. Organised in the Q2 of every financial year, this exclusive SME loan carnival brings opportunities for SMEs to get Capital Float’s business loans at reduced interest rates. This helps SMEs in procuring adequate capital to prepare for the festive season in India when the retail industry has maximum revenue-generating opportunities.

GIFF is driven by the vision that in a huge and culturally-diverse country like India, it is significant to fuel growth and entrepreneurship by providing access to finance to high potential, but traditionally under-served SMEs.

Building on Government initiatives

The launch of government-backed schemes such as Pradhan Mantri Jan-Dhan Yojana led to a considerable increase in the number of bank accounts, but reportedly only about 15% of adult customers used these accounts to receive or make payments. Furthermore, as per a study by the Ministry of Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises, only 6% of small businesses obtain finance from organised lenders, hinting at the challenges for SMEs in getting loans¹. To sustain an economic growth rate of 7% to 8% per annum, there has to be a focus on widening the scope of financial institutions.

A survey involving 540 SMEs by the Firstbiz and Greyhound Knowledge Group in 2016 revealed that over 90% of the SMEs in India found ‘lack of easy finance and credit instruments’ to be their most critical challenge.

With a deep understanding of the market, Capital Float has consistently worked to provide easier access to loans to SMEs when compared to traditional banking channels. We bring you customized working capital solutions, borrower experience enhanced by technology and convenient processes to power your journey. Our objective is to enable SMEs in India to #BreakLimits and realize their true business potential.

The Indian SME is becoming a digital entity

A big change in the credit market comes from the digital lifestyle of Indian consumers. Currently, India is the second largest smartphone market with a user base of over 230 million. Moreover, an increasing number of SMEs are operating online by partnering with ecosystem juggernauts like Amazon, Flipkart, Alibaba, etc. Post demonetization in November 2016, a significant number of enterprises installed POS terminals at their stores, through which consumers could engage in cashless transactions. The Government has digitized data through initiatives like AADHAAR and GSTN, which can be used by Fintech lenders like Capital Float to assess and underwrite borrowers with higher levels of accuracy.

Capital Float has emerged a market leader in this environment by establishing itself as an online lending platform that offers customized working capital solutions. We have tailored a wide SME loan portfolio to ensure that we have a loan for every kind of SME and micro-entrepreneur in the country. For instance, we provide Online Seller Finance for e-commerce sellers operation on leading online marketplaces, and also service retailers using POS machines from the likes of Pine Labs, Mswipe, ICICI Merchant Cash Services, etc.

By using Capital Float services during GIFF, business credit seekers can get loans from ₹1 lakh to ₹100 lakhs starting from 16%. This is coupled with our BAU processes to enhance borrower experience in the form of live chats, knowledge centres and means to track loan application status online.

Conclusion

GIFF welcomes businesses from across the country to empower their journey for the festive season in 2017. Capital Float is ready to take quick and accurate lending decisions for them. We have comprehensive credit packages unfettered by restrictive lending policies, inflexible collateral requirements and slow disbursals times. SMEs can apply for loans online in ten minutes, upload the documentation required and receive funds in their account within three days.

In a phase where banks have tightened their purse strings to deal with bad loans, NBFCs are coming up with new strategies to spark up the investment drive. Capital Float is leading the initiative through GIFF, thereby contributing to the growth of SMEs in India. Providing cutting-edge working capital solutions for the SME sector is our organisation’s raison d’etre, and we have planned our policies accordingly.

Know more about the Great Indian Finance Festival 2017 at https://www.capitalfloat.com/giff

Oct 24, 2018