As we enter a new decade, you can bet that entrepreneurs up and down the country are looking to embrace technology to drive business change and get ahead of their competitors.
From a business technology point of view, more has changed in the last 10 years than in the previous 20.
We’ve seen the rise of social media, smartphone apps, and IoT to name just 3 advancements that have radically changed the way businesses interact with their customers.
It is certain that in the coming years artificial intelligence, virtual reality and blockchain will become deeply embedded.
And yet, many businesses, especially SME’s seem stuck in the past.
Clearly to change is difficult and takes effort. Even when stronger growth, increased profits and competitive advantage reward that effort.
Using technology to improve efficiency and customer experience is essential.
Why should technology be at the forefront of business change?
Clearly, you don’t get better business results by continuing to do the same thing. You have to change and adapt.
“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive, but those who can best manage change.”Charles Darwin (Paraphrased from Origin of the Species)
Technology is a change enabler. Today, business technology, like all things digital, is ubiquitous. It is also relatively inexpensive.
Despite best intentions, many businesses are overlooking the potential for technology to drive improvement, changing far too slowly, if at all. Why is this?
- Is it because it seems less risky to cling on to “tried and tested” ways of working?
- Perhaps, you mistake minor improvements for fundamental change?
- Or, you simply hope that what worked well in the past will keep on delivering in the future?
Until of course you realise – sometimes far too late – that you are flogging the proverbial dead horse.
How to use technology for business change
Wherever possible, invest in automation for workflow management, accounting, and even customer service.
You should seek to reduce manual, repetitive tasks that divert your teams away from revenue earning activities.
The cost of such investment has fallen dramatically in recent years due to the advent of cloud computing and mobile apps.
Moreover, innovative software can be accessed through a monthly subscription, avoiding upfront costs and paying back in real-time through improved efficiency gains.
Using automation technology in the back office can make a big difference. You can of course also automate many of your sales and marketing activities such as email and social media marketing to increase your reach and amplify your message.
This will allow you to concentrate on 3 customer facing priorities that will ensure that your business changes for the better in 2020.
1. Ask your customers how you can serve them better
When you’ve been in business for a long time, it’s tempting to think that you’ve got your customers’ needs covered.
Sure, you are good at what you do, but could you be better? Could you offer improved services?
The best way of finding out is to ask your customers how well you performed and what you could do better next time around.
2. Encourage customers reviews
The more you learn about your customer needs and preferences, the more you’ll be able to adapt your business and obtain positive customer reviews.
In B2C markets reviews influence buying decisions more than traditional advertisements and consumer marketing. What’s more, they are easy to collect.
Invite consumers to post reviews on your Google My Business or Facebook page. Or sign-up to a dedicated review site such as Trustpilot.
In B2B markets customer testimonials have the power to strengthen a company’s credibility and encourage potential new customers to make contact. Make sure that your website showcases testimonials from all your satisfied customers.
3. Be more social
You are probably already on social media but are you making the most of it?
These days it is not enough to have a Facebook page and a Twitter account where you occasionally post news and updates when you find that rarest of all commodities – free time.
You may need to increase the number of platforms you operate on. Does your product or service lend itself to visual marketing by posting images on Instagram or Pinterest? Are you customers wanting to interact with you on WhatsApp as well as email?
If so, go with it. But don’t forget to make your life easier by automating all your social media activity posting by using CoSchedule or Buffer. Or subcontracting it entirely to a specialist social media agency.
Finally, don’t restrict yourself to posting about products and services. Be more social. Share your mission, your charitable causes, your company values, your expertise and your goals for the future.
In a sea of seemingly similar businesses, dare to be different. It can pay dividends.
In summary – exploit today’s technology and explore new tech
Small changes today can make a big difference. Start by using current technology better. If you’ve not already done so:
- Introduce apps for training and support
- Fully use marketing automation software for your social media and digital campaigns
- Leverage chat bots for your customer contacts
- Join platform-based marketplaces for sales and purchases
Crucially, keep abreast of the top trends for 2020.
Then start to look at the application possibilities of new technologies. Seek out information on the transformative benefits of new tech and prepare to invest before it is too late.
After all, the pace of business change will get faster and the risk in future is not so much falling behind but falling by the wayside.