Is technology changing your business or to put it another way, are your customers changing how they research and consume your products/services?
Another question, ask any millennial (a person reaching young adulthood around the year 2000) if they have a TV and they will show you their smartphone. Ask them what their favourite TV channel is and they’ll respond unequivocally with ‘YouTube.’
Welcome to the era of the digital customer and this digitally empowered customer is not restricted just to millennials but is found across all demographics.
The digital customer is having a major impact on:
- How we learn
- How we share information
- How we consume information/products/services – in fact, everything
- How we discover
- How we make decisions
- How we influence
- And in turn how we are influenced
Technology is the enabler and it’s ushered in a new era of how we look at our businesses and also our employees. The impact is felt across all facets of our businesses, from sales and marketing, to customer service, to finance. You name it, the impact is evident.
In the larger organisations they have the financial muscle and are creating new roles specifically to address these challenges. Roles with titles such as Chief Digital Marketing Officer, Chief Digital Officer or Chief Experience Officer.
So, how does a small business compete with the big guys?
Let’s first consider the following 6 facts before addressing the question:
- 86% of buyers will pay more for a better customer experience
- Only 1% of customers feel that vendors consistently meet their expectations
- 87% of millennials only contact customer service when they can’t find an answer online
- 67% of a buyer’s journeys is now done online
- On average, customers consult 11 sources of information before making a purchase. Google calls this ZMOT or the Zero Moment of Truth.
- 90% of customers move between devices to complete a purchase
Unfortunately there is no sense of urgency among huge numbers of the small business community as they see the digital world as something that’s of little relevance to their business. Stand back from your business and take a look at your customer base and estimate the number of customers that have purchased an airline ticket in the past year or renewed their car tax. It’s all done online! We should be able to agree that a large percentage of your customers are what we can call ‘digitally competent.’
If, as we agreed above, that they are online, then what else are they doing online. If your competitors are online then there is a good chance that they are visible, yet you hold onto the lofty ideal that being digital has no impact or relevance to your business.
Let’s get proactive and take some simple steps to be at least digitally aware. Then we can take the next steps to get online and build meaningful connections with our customers.
Three simple steps to digitally empower your business
Step 1: Where are your customers researching for your products/services? Why not ask them? Also, do your own online research. Google’s keyword search tool is easy to use and it’s a great start. At Big Red Cloud, ‘online accounting software’ is one of our critical keyword search terms. What’s yours?
Step2: We mentioned at least 11 sources of information are referenced in the purchase buying process. What are the key sources of information used in your sector and more importantly, are you listed as a provider in a meaningful way (not just a product listing but do you have good customer testimonials in support).
Step 3: The fatal mistake – forgetting that the customer experience is critical to monitor and support after the purchase. Customers don’t see departments, they see the brand, your company. Despite all the brilliant work up to the sale, a poor after sales experience can cripple a company especially in a world where we are all digitally connected. Have you booked a hotel online using TripAdvisor? You know what i mean – check out the negative comments, they’re like a millstone around your neck.
Final observation for today’s blog: Can you remember when coffee shops, hairdressers and waiting rooms had loads of dog eared magazines? Now take a look around, heads are slightly inclined and focussed on their smartphones, perhaps writing a review of your product/service.
Is technology changing your business? You bet it is!