What Keeps Small Business Owners Awake at Night?
Those responsible for leading and charting the course of small businesses often lie awake at night trying to wrap their heads around a number of things:
- Do I know what all the important things are, and will I have enough time to do them?
- Am I spending my time the best way possible?
- Are our customers truly satisfied in their experience with us?
- What don’t I know about the business that prevents me from running it effectively?
- Are we using what limited financial resources we have wisely?
- What do I do about the things I don’t know about or can’t control?
External and internal forces are always in play impacting a company’s ability to grow. Add to that the feeling of looking up and possibly falling behind larger competitors who have access to greater resources and tools.
The alignment and technology required to provide customers with a cohesive experience as well as have a streamlined operational perspective of the company appear cost prohibitive and overly complex to those facing the challenge. The good news is with the right focus and approach any company can accomplish these things without breaking the bank.
The Cohesive Customer Experience
Whether you credit Millennials or an increasingly skeptical consumer culture, experts agree that experience is the engine driving modern sales. Considering 86% of buyers are willing to pay more for great customer service, it’s not surprising that polished sales “gimmicks” are being outpaced by unproduced, unrefined, and unedited content that inspires customer trust.
The good news for smaller businesses is that customer experience is an area where they can outmaneuver industry giants. The trend of experience-centric consumer preferences is a unique opportunity for growth-oriented companies to capture market share.
When you consider the traditional customer journey moving across the various business functions starting with their knowledge of the company through the purchasing process and into the service and support they receive, a siloed experience leaves them jostled about, confused, frustrated, and underappreciated.
A Unified Picture and Journey
Many of those responsible for the direction of businesses today have almost come to expect inconsistency and gaps in the information they receive. We have come to expect customer information being listed one way in our marketing system, one way in our sales systems, and in yet another way in our accounting systems leading to a lack of consistency.
There just doesn’t seem to be an easy way that isn’t both time and cost prohibitive to bring it all together in a streamlined and accurate way. As a result, businesses are left to fend with incomplete information and gut-instinct when it comes to critical decisions.
There is incredible value in having information and processes flowing in a consistent and unified matter enabling the ability to trace and map things from start to finish. More importantly, being able to quickly assess a view of your business’ performance allows you to make well-informed decisions. Imagine if within minutes you could assess a snapshot that told you the following:
- Were our forecasts of expenses related to a client project accurate and did we make a profit?
- Is there a correlation between our best-selling products and their social networks’ rankings?
- How many marketing dollars are spent to acquire a new client vs. retain an existing one?
- Was a higher than expected return rate due to an error in an advertising campaign?
The Answer: Optimizing Your Business to Address External and Internal Forces
You may think the needs of your external functions (Marketing, Sales, etc.) are so different than your internal functions (Operations, Finance. etc.)
and that no one solution could address both while remaining cost effective…and you would be right.
Yet, by integrating a suite of software that manages, aligns, and captures detailed records and information across your different business dimensions, customers traversing your business experience a delightful and consistent experience. At the same time, the aggregated data provides a powerful dashboard of how the company is performing letting you make key decisions quickly, in less time, and with lower risk.
Integration allows you to connect a series specialized software — like a conveyor belt transporting inputs and outputs between machines — without losing functionality. Each department or team can use what’s best suited to them while still maintaining a flawless customer and employee experience. All you need to do is make sure the integrations are there for each tool to connect to one another seamlessly.
The real kicker? Having an integrated technology picture requires intentionality, not significant cost. As a result, these tools create a smoother and more consistent journey with less data entry and errors along the way. The table below provides an example of some of the common activities that could be connected through integration.
You could spend months doing the research and hope you find satisfactory answers to these questions or challenges…or you could enlist the help of those versed in customer experience design and business advisory who navigate the experiential, technical, strategic, and delivery implications of these every day.
This moment is an opportunity for small businesses to grow rapidly and position themselves as best-in-class without having to compromise. Don’t miss out.
Article originally posted by author on Medium and can be found here.