The way business is gained, retained and achieved today has changed vastly from a mere 10 years ago. Technology and the advance of software and social media has disrupted every thread of a business’ livelihood. In this post I hope to give you a bird’s eye view of what you should pay attention to, to survive the next 10 years.
The word “Digital” is bandied about a lot nowadays, so before I give you my easy to follow plan – let’s just explore what I mean by it. For me, digital is really everything that is technologically driven and for you that may also be some elements that are intangible. Digital covers:
- your online presence for marketing and sales purpose
- the way you deliver your product or services, and
- how you function internally as a business.
In the Digital Bootcamp workshop I cover much of this – so check that out if you want to come along to that.
So, armed with knowing what I mean by digital, let’s get into your step-by-step plan to get your digital master plan in place.
STEP 1 – Assess your existing infrastructure
This is a step whereby you revisit everything that you are doing in your business right now, and ask yourself some questions you have been avoiding like:
- is the way we do what we do…still the most efficient way to do it?
- how are we holding our customer information and purchase history?
- how are we leveraging the information we do have right now?
- is my team still functioning at their most efficient?
- are my marketing, sales, customer service and IT functions (or roles) working together as a synergistic team?
STEP 2 – Map your customer journey (again)
Interestingly, some businesses have still not done this step in their business. Inevitably, the business owner came up with an idea of what he (or she) would like to sell, and who they wanted to sell it to, and did just that.
With the advance in technology (hard and software) as well as the way people share and digest information – EVERYONE needs to revisit their customer journey and make sure that they have incorporated all touch points. (Which means – you need to cover more than just telephone enquiries, website enquiries, face to face meetings and email correspondence.)
STEP 3 – Map your systems, processes and people
With your Step 1 and 2 done, you can now revisit your internal processes and systems…and see where the gaps are. Once you have really taken an honest look at your processes and systems (or lack thereof) – you will be in a better position to look at your people. Your systems and processes will only ever be as good as the humans applying/using them. If you don’t regularly gauge what people’s roles are in your business – it may be time to ensure their job specifications are still fit for purpose.
STEP 4 – Engage your team
You may have external workers (freelancers, contractors) or an employed team – it’s really important to engage them in the review process. Ultimately you want to create a future that is as streamlined as it can be, which will help with efficiencies, and will provide better customer service for your base of customers. (And I will also say – the quicker and easier you are to deal with as a customer, the better you will fare with the newer generations).
STEP 5 – Engage your customers
The best way to find out how you are faring in your business is to ask your customers if there is anything else you can do to make their lives easier during the delivery or production of your service/product to them. (This will link in with Step 2)
While I’m not advocating the customer dictates how you work – I do think there is value in ensuring your are not missing some easy win areas in the delivery of your product/service (or even in post-sales care or communication).
STEP 6 – Plan your digital roadmap
With all the information gathered from Steps 1 to 5, you are now in a position to look at where your weaknesses are; where you have strengths; and then, crucially, what technology and systems could help you. The areas that you may find can be touched on are:
- Customer Relationship Management
- Email Marketing
- Customer Service (Helpdesk)
- Social Media
- Inventory / stock control
- Point-of-sale technology
- Online payment transactions
- Mobile marketing
You get the idea right?
At this point you may be glazing over and saying, “that’s all well and good Shelley, but….”. And I wouldn’t blame you – it does sound rather overwhelming and as a small business owner – its tricky to find the concentrated time to do this kind of exercise.
Yes, you will need a “third eye” – someone who can actually steer those conversations and also ask the difficult questions that you are avoiding. A good start for you would be to take the time to come along to our Digital Bootcamp. You will have (a) set aside time for the thinking and (b) have a room of people (and me) to hold you accountable for doing the work.
If you have any immediate questions about the steps above, please do feel free to pop them below – I’d be happy to help. I have been really high-level in my step creation above – but only to give a bird’s eye view of what’s needed to get you “digital-ready”. There is so much more to each of the steps!