Once a digital strategy is in place, you need to continue investing in evolving and updating systems as new technology comes along – tech evolution isn’t static and businesses that don’t keep up with the digital experience demands of their customers will quickly find themselves on the back foot.
What if I told you the single most important factor of your business wasn’t the product or service? It may sound counterintuitive, but for customers in the digital age, businesses’ products and services come second to customer experiences – walking through the door, going online or asking questions over social media. The retail world has undergone a fundamental shift, flipping traditional ways of transacting and granting power to the consumer. With more products and services at their fingertips than ever before, and with transactions made easier through digital technology, consumers’ wants and needs are at the centre of the process. This brings to light a sobering realisation that many businesses in Australia don’t have a digital strategy that meets the digital experience needs of their customers.
Unfortunately, many small businesses believe having a digital presence is the same as building a digital experience, and that the existence of a website or Facebook page is enough. Deloitte’s 2016 Media Consumer Survey found that 86 per cent of Australian households own a smartphone and laptop and that 61 per cent engage with social media on a daily basis. It’s clear that consumers live and breathe digital, and they now expect businesses to do the same. Unless the experience measures up to their expectations, consumers will grow frustrated and move on to a competitor.
Deloitte and Google’s Connected Small Business 2016 report found that more than 90 per cent of Australian SMEs are not taking full advantage of today’s digital tools, with many identifying ‘inadequate skills’ as a key barrier. It begs the question – how, in a country with such high digital take-up, are businesses getting it so wrong?
One of the issues is evolution of the sector, meaning being “digitally savvy,” is ever-changing for businesses of all sizes. Another challenge are the tools available to assist them. The growth in the digital landscape has resulted in an explosion in the number of systems and information proliferating the sector, adding to the confusion on what’s required to keep up.
With all this complexity, how can businesses take charge and implement a system built with the customer at the centre?
Learn the skills
The cliché that you “don’t know what you don’t know” couldn’t be more accurate when it comes to digital technology. Digital tools can be a challenge for small business and a barrier to adoption. They also come with a cost that can be hard to justify without properly understanding their business impact. With this in mind, it’s important that learning and understanding digital skills is viewed as an investment in the business’s future. Like most technology platforms, you have to look beyond the acquisition cost.
Pick the right tools for the job
Not all businesses have the same digital requirements so it’s important to map out the necessary technological requirements from the start, and to be strategic in deciding which digital tools are the most relevant for the business. Different tools can lead to very different outcomes, so betting on the wrong system can be detrimental.
For businesses who already have systems in place, a digital audit is critical to find out what is working and where further investment could be placed. In looking at existing systems, it is also important to see how different elements are working, to ensure it’s producing the best digital experience for the customer and for the business. An end-to-end system that builds a seamless experience for the consumer is pivotal, and often best achieved by using one vendor across the entire ecosystem.
Deloitte’s study also found that 67 per cent of consumers named smartphones among their top three devices; therefore, having a consistent experience across all channels, including mobile, desktop, and in-store, is an expectation of the customer. Even when it comes to the purchase of high-value or luxury goods like vehicles, customers expect the opportunity to engage, research and ask questions about the product at a time that suits them. Consumers want the option to access information at their convenience. It means having a quality mobile experience is a hugely important part of the sales cycle, proving that a responsive website, that looks good on a smart phone, is critical.
Keep one eye on the future
Once a digital strategy is in place, you need to continue investing in evolving and updating their systems as new technology comes along – tech evolution isn’t static and businesses that don’t keep up with the demands of their customers will quickly find themselves on the back foot.
Tom Wright, Managing Director – Australia and APAC, Search Optics