Technology has become integrated into all aspects of our lives and business. Despite this, the potential of most SMB's is limited by their understanding of IT and how it can benefit their day-to-day operations.
In part, this is a failure of the IT services industry who with exception of some new add-ons and subscriptions remain fundamentally reactive in the way they deliver services to their SMB customers. This approach leaves the strategy, decisions and the 'knowing what to do' in the hands of owners and executives who by definition are not tech savvy and simply don't 'know what to do'.
The result is a business failing to leverage technology to maximise their efforts and outcomes as it relates to common business challenges such as customer experience, service efficiency, reduced waste, etc.
In this post, we want to look at customer experience and how technology can increase your value to customers.
No one will ever tell you that customer experience doesn't matter. Still, how much it matters can vary depending on your perspective and values. In 2022 however some would argue that it's never mattered more.
The long leash afforded to companies during the pandemic has been reined in. Alongside rapidly rising costs businesses are being forced to review all of their suppliers to see where savings can be made, or ROI can be improved.
Customer experience determines your place in that supplier review and could have a major impact to future revenue and margins. Likewise in B2C relationships, consumers will only remain loyal to those they enjoy buying from.
Consider some of the following recent findings on customer experience:
These kinds of insights are not something that should be ignored; a positive experience is what customers want—and expect—from any brand.
How would improved customer experience impact your business? Whether it be customer churn, increased sales or retained (or improved) margins, the level of value perceived by your customers can have major financial implications.
It's easy to write off customer experience as being solely defined by the human interaction. The fact is however, the tools and information available to your people directly impacts the quality of service and experience that they can deliver your clients. Consider some of the following questions:
How long does it take you to turn around quotes/proposals to clients?
How hard is it to retrieve order information when requested?
Are common mistakes made in ordering, fulfilment, pricing, etc.?
How costly are these mistakes to your productivity, your clients, and your bottom line?
The answer to all these questions is in some way impacted by the IT systems used to provide the necessary process and information. Without the right tools, results are limited regardless of any individuals level of skill or effort.
The kinds of technology barriers we commonly see holding businesses back in customer experience are:
We could write a thesis on the above topics (as well as others) and the impacts they have on businesses. There are however some fundamental truths that need to be considered before diving into the weeds.
No SMB has the above challenges because 'they like it that way'. The truth is, these are likely one of many issues or frustrations in the business (not just IT related) that SMB owners and executives would happily fix given the opportunity.
The limitation to solving these issues is a combination of time, money and capability.
Time and money is a resource. As such, any consideration to spend said resource needs to be justified by a clear understanding of the business value that will be gained from the investment. In most cases, business owners and executives do not have the information required to make confident decisions in regards to technology spending. This is commonly a deficiency of the IT services provider, unwilling or unable to truly engage at a business level.
The other elephant in the room is capability. One of the more common phrases SMB owners tell us is 'we don't know what we don't know'. It's one thing to be aware that your systems and equipment don't stack up, it's another thing entirely to know what you should be doing instead.
Organisations often look to review their IT when things are breaking down. However when's the last time you reviewed your IT in consideration as to how it's affecting your clients experience, your ability to outperform competition, and ultimately, your bottom line?
There is a missing piece of the puzzle in most SMB / IT provider relationships. In order to maximise your investment in technology, someone has to bridge the gap between business objectives and technical outcomes.
In most SMB's, the capability to fill this gap is simply not there. After all, most SMB's aren't IT companies and have other priorities. This leaves the responsibility with either the IT provider, or an owner / manager without the time and experience required to do the job.
Positive commercial outcomes cannot be achieved via response times, monitored backups and friendly service alone. In order to impact business objectives, IT needs to reach a higher level of maturity, one that identifies business risk and impact, understands operational workflows, and can provide commercial justification for investment recommendations.
At the heart of every business problem is a system or process that could be made better with technology. Most businesses postpone taking action on improving their IT because it is either too hard, or they remain unaware of the sheer scale of impact small improvements could make.
Even firefighters take time and resources away from the front lines to create firebreaks. Having another tool in your belt could make all your other objectives easier to achieve.
If you're interested, we'd be happy to meet to discuss your business and share our insights on the above topics. There's no pressure to proceed with any changes, we would equally gain value from hearing another perspective and learning about another business and it's challenges.
Simply give us a call or book a time directly here: https://calendly.com/ray-sweeney