Technology continues to transform our lives at home and work. As with all change, the rate of adoption varies between people and business owners alike. Working with and speaking to hundreds of business owners, the general consensus is that in the next three years the ‘digital divide’ between businesses that embraced it and those that don’t will be at a critical point.
If your business systems are not fit for purpose by 2020 your business will no longer be competitive.
So what do we mean by fit for purpose? I can explain by considering four areas:
Contact Management; Integration; Workflow Management; Automation
To remain competitive in the next decade, all of your contact data will need to be easily accessible to all your staff on every device. That’s data on prospects, customers, suppliers and partners. Their contact details will need to be validated, structured and held in one place. The ability to access data at any time on any device by anyone in your organisation is essential to meeting customer service expectation.
This contact data must be connected with all channels of communication so that your team can see every conversation and interaction you have. This includes integration with your telephones, email, SMS, Live Chat, email marketing, social media, help desk software, any other operational system, financial systems, webforms, survey tools and many more. Put simply, any system you use that contains customer data needs to be connected.
Everything everybody does in your business is part of a process. Whilst they were effective in the late 20th Century, manual (paper) & labour intensive processes (including using Spreadsheets) have no place in the competitive businesses of the future. Your business systems need to provide workflow management capability that will support all departments of your organisation following a strict process, in the right order, within an acceptable timeframe. These processes will be streamlined and fine tuned to deliver the best customer experience. An efficient customer service is the most profitable and sustainable way of gaining and keeping customers.
Key parts of your process will need to be automated – not just email and social media marketing activities. Tasks and actions that are carried out manually by people today will need to be performed by your systems. Tasks such as sending brochures, documentation, obtaining customer feedback, scheduling appointments. When driven by automated workflows these areas save on average 20-30% of labour times.
What do you need to do next?
You need to conduct an honest appraisal of how fit for purpose your systems are. If you don’t have the capability to achieve change then you have time to act now. Fail to act at your peril……because if your organisation does not equip itself as described, then you can bet your competitors and/or new entrants into your marketplace will. Do you really want to give others this type of competitive edge?