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After speaking to hundreds of business owners, entrepreneurs and executives over the past year, one thing is clear: How to best serve our customers as a business is changing rapidly. Recognizing and accepting that the ways we operated in the past might not best serve our business or our customers in the landscape of the future of business is crucial.

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While the pandemic may have accelerated the adoption of digitization out of necessity, we need to realize that things will never be exactly the way they used to be. They shouldn’t either. We need to integrate our learnings into how we will do business in the future. Digitization is not necessarily depersonalization. It could even lead to a highly personalized customer experience.

A State of Customer Engagement 2021 report from Twilio surveyed 2,500 decision makers in companies with more than 500 employees. Some 96% of those surveyed said that not digitizing customer engagement would have negatively impacted their business, and more interestingly, 95% expected to maintain or increase their investment in digital engagement. customers after the end of the global health crisis. The race for digital transformation continues and as a business you need to keep pace.

Related: Here’s How (And Why) You Should Prepare Your Company’s Customer Experience for the Post-Covid-19 World

The customer is in the driver’s seat

Many of us have had the experience of talking about a specific topic, maybe a car that we wanted, while next to our smartphone and all of a sudden we get ads for cars via social networks. While this can be helpful, it can also be intrusive and exhausting. This type of junk mail can give scanning a bad reputation.

True personalization isn’t about using customer data to send people spam. This personalization is carried out with the agreement and the request of the customer. The customer is behind the wheel and the company has the systems in place to give the customer what they want, whether it’s having food delivered to the restaurant at a specific drop-off point or asking a Nike’s virtual retail employee helping a customer order their perfect pair of sneakers. of the House.

The customer controls how they communicate and when they communicate with the business.

Related: Why a Personal Customer Experience is Critical to Your Business’ Success

Digital won’t replace analog, it will improve it

The future is a hybrid world. The best of both worlds.

Many of us are tired of digital. Hours per day spent on Zoom or other videoconferencing services, lack of human contact, technical difficulties. In my opinion, part of the reason for fatigue is that it is imposed on us. But when we can finally go back to the option of in-person communication, the element of choice becomes important.

Personally, I think it would be difficult to justify the constant flights and travel across the country and abroad, to have in-person meetings. The time and resources devoted to this would no longer be so accepted in the “new normal”. Notably because we need to be more aware of the impact of our carbon footprint on the environment. We will have the opportunity to be more demanding as to when in-person presence is required.

Even heavily regulated industries are on board

Digitization is not only the prerogative of innovative companies. Many heavily regulated sectors, such as financial services, healthcare and governments, which are generally slow to change, have also embraced digitization. If traditionally slow or bureaucratic industries welcome technology, then this is even more of a reason for small organizations to follow suit (if they haven’t already).

Of course, not all businesses have the budget of a large corporation or government agency. But the key here is innovation. Individuals and small businesses have already created amazing solutions to augment existing solutions that don’t require organizational change or a huge budget. A software developer in Massachusetts, for example, created a simple and streamlined website for recording Covid-19 vaccination (while on maternity leave!)

The key here is to recognize the opportunity, listen to what people want, and create digital solutions that solve real problems. And see how to do that with the resources you have, whether it’s with an individual or a small team.

Related: Customer Experience Will Determine Your Business Success

Staying still is not an option

To build a smart and sustainable future business, we need to recognize future trends that are likely to occur and work to meet them. Personalization for our customers, based on taking feedback and resulting information translated into action, is crucial to staying competitive and agile as a business. I suspect personalization will become the expected “norm”. Technology and digitalization are a way for us to understand and respond to our customers.

And it doesn’t have to be a huge cost or complexity for the business. We need to train our employees to develop an open mind and creativity in how they serve the customer well. The question we need to ask ourselves is, “How can we use customer information and data to better serve our customers?” “

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