Digital Disruption is everywhere, uprooting established business models, turning giants into also-runs, minnows into giants; but how do we do it, and what benefits should small-to-medium sized businesses be looking to achieve?
Many businesses see the potential of digital and their competitor companies changing with it – but do not have the knowledge, time or in-house experience to plan and implement a strategy.
We have a passion for helping businesses get what they want from the enhanced technology that modern systems and the cloud present, and not feel pressurised by the changes involved – and from this, we have seen six core phases to implementing a successful digital strategy:
Step 1 – Gather your forces
Invest – the UK traditionally has a poor record of businesses investing in themselves, but grasping digital disruption means having the right technology, platform and expertise and this takes investment to get off the ground.
Not just financial – alongside the right resources, a business also needs to have the right stakeholder buy-in for their approach and culture change to digital.
Know your customer – a successful digital strategy needs to know it’s target audience and how their customers’ expectations and buying habits are changing. This can be the easiest step for SMEs as they are traditionally closer to their customers – however there can be a problem in being too close to a customer and failing to understand how their needs may be changing.
Creative vision – we may know where our customers are today, and understand their past and present requirements; however we need a sense of leadership to anticipate their needs in the future and how digital trends may be changing what our customers are looking for.
Understand that every company is a now a technology company in some shape or form, some companies are simply more technological than others. Look at your business and review where technology could be used to better serve your customer.
Get a good spine – we need a good Hub to capture data and ensure we have common processes in the business; this can be relatively simple and even initially have weaker User Adoption but we need a decent spine to get started.
At CRMCS we favour Dynamics 365 as an excellent ‘spine’ system to be the foundation to build from.
Step 2 – Take your Touchpoints Digital
Examine the customer contact points in your business and review whether these could be implemented as an App that would enable the Customer to engage with that contact point online, and then feed into your spine automatically.
These Apps can be the traditional mobile apps, purchased services or a simple mini-Portal site that enables and helps automate a common process in the business.
An App-based approach allows a business to gradually introduce digital points into the business that connect your customers and your internal teams via technology.
The key here is to centralise your data, but decentralise your operations through the use of small easy apps that either connect or outsource elements of the business.
Today this is predominantly Online or Mobile, but tomorrow this will increasingly be part of IoT to allow different devices to connect your customers with your business.
Small Scale Examples
Estate Agents are using small Apps to allow new Leads to book viewings online with their Agents, or using a Client+Supplier Service to book Viewings through a 3rd party who will then conduct the Viewing.
Wholesalers are allowing existing customers to place new or repeat business to automate an order from online to the fulfilment arm of their business – this then automatically links to their internal CRM to capture the Order Value against the Customer and their original Opportunity Value, but more importantly allows the Orders to go directly from the Customer to Fulfilment and so reduce company overheads for taking new orders.
Step 3 – Work the Data
One of the great advantages of the digital business is that each of the Contact Points or Transactions handled by an App will give you data regarding how the Customer is interacting with the business.
This data will allow you to better know your Customer and understand what they want from your services.
Tracking this data in your spine system as traces or complete transactions can be used for two major benefits:
- Real-time reporting on how customers are interacting with your business.
- Your teams can also see the transactions going through your spine system – this helps improve your internal processes and staff engagement with your systems and processes.
Step 4 – Relationships, not Transactions
The next step in going digital is not just Apps taking data from the Customer, but also Apps giving feedback to your customers. This can often take the form of self-service reporting, online knowledge base or customer service bots.
This cements the relationship with the customer as a service-orientated approach where they can review the outcomes of that relationship in the way that works for them.
Step 5 – Business as a Platform
By implementing Steps 2, 3 and 4 we will have Apps that transform the relationship we have with a customer from the transaction-at-a-point-in-time to an ongoing service relationship where we both:
- Customers use our Apps as a platform for delivering their desired outcome
- Our business uses the Apps to deliver this outcome and then report back on the relationship to the customer.
Our next step is to understand that our business is now a platform that acts as a feedback loop as the data we collect from the Apps into our Spine allows us to continually deliver a better service.
This can involve improving and expanding the existing Apps, or continuing to gradually introduce new Apps as the touchpoints of our business.
Step 6 – Reap the benefits
Disruption is about making the business and the platform work for you, to use a footballing analogy, making the ball do the work rather than chasing the game.
Building this kind of App-based feedback can initially be difficult in the same fashion as any Change Management project, but once in place means we should have a good feedback loop between the business, our apps and our customers that builds upon itself.
This means that we should see:
- Less BAU time as transactions and relationships move into a self-service digital model – this promotes the ‘always on’ business without needing always on people!
- Subscribers over customers, as the customer sees the value in the relationship with your business and not just value in the individual transactions.
- Identity, the focus on customers and continually incorporating their feedback into your touchpoints will help give your business a distinct digital identity and this is key in the digital economy to help differentiate your business from the wealth of other potentials online.
- Real-time reporting as your spine collects data from the App touchpoints
The reason why this is so important? Millennial buying patterns tend towards buying services from companies that chime with their identity, and this leans towards digital companies over more traditional models; and as the number of Millennial customers becomes the norm, finding the right digital model becomes more important to successful business.
This is a topic we can talk about until we are blue in the face as is our passion to help businesses get digital and have an easier life – if you want to learn more then please do not hesitate to get in touch with us.