Small Business Currents October 13, 2022 Iain Scholnick
The pandemic has accelerated the need to provide digital-first experiences, and small businesses have seen early success in digitalization efforts to reach addressable markets. While some have been slower to move forward with expansion, generating new revenue streams aligns with the primary driver of business growth: delivering a successful customer outcome. The idea of “digital transformation” can be daunting, but the processes behind realizing that transformation for your business don’t have to be. Advancements in sales-enablement technology and communications platforms have bolstered small businesses in their pursuit for continued viability and have removed barriers to entry that have kept small businesses away in the past.
For those who have not yet launched new channels, worries about cost, skill-level and return on investment can cloud the decision-making process. However, in April of this year 43% of consumers reported they engaged regularly in digital-first activities, a figure higher than the five previous months, according to a study from PYMYNTS. Despite this stage of the pandemic, with consumers afforded more freedom to shop online or conduct business in-person, digital self-service remains prevalent. Small enterprises should embrace new opportunities for growth, but there are ways to do so that generate new revenues and are approachable regardless of past experience.
Focus on the Customer Edge
In the age of Covid, meeting customers at the mobile edge is critical. The pandemic has reinvented consumer behavior, and developing the right customer journeys is a necessity. Finding platforms that consolidate channels on which your customers may find you and interact with your business creates a more unified digital customer experience. At the same time, enabling new avenues, like automated appointment scheduling or live chat, expand opportunities for revenue and customer relationship management.
As noted by the Harvard Business Review, envision these journeys as one of four tracks: A routine, a trek, a joyride, and an odyssey. These tracks categorize the length and levels of engagement needed to create compelling customer experiences. Delivering successful customer outcomes truly depends on your consistency and approach. Digitizing those efforts provides you with additional, meaningful meeting points with prospective and current customers.
No matter the growth stage an enterprise may be in, it’s important to think about the future. When sourcing solutions to expand your digital capabilities, it’s best to think about the ways your business could grow and any tensions that may arise from that expansion. Do you have existing tools you’ll need any new platform(s) to integrate with? What types of solutions will help in the face of heightened demand? Are there certain hiring decisions you’ll need to make to bridge skills gaps?
In that same vein, as businesses scale, maintaining efficiency is key. Growth is exciting, but meeting the measure of those kinds of changes for the first time requires strategic thinking. Offloading to third-party solutions or using automation can relieve some of the burden of the lift required to build new revenue streams. Beyond that, keep in mind these are common challenges businesses face. To some, it may seem like scaling up takes time and careful planning. While that is true in some respects, there are also high-value opportunities businesses can capture now.
IDC reports that global spending on digital transformation in business will reach $1.8 trillion in 2022. With the range of technologies available, it’s best to be prepared prior to making purchase decisions. Fundamental understanding of a digital product starts with aligning the value proposition with your strategic goals. Be clear about your expectations with vendors, and ask questions. An improperly implemented product can cost you, so a degree of trepidation is understandable. However, don’t allow that trepidation to keep your digital advancement static.
Despite larger digitization efforts taking hold, over half of small enterprises, 57%, are still in consideration of or have no plans for their digital transformation. Where should small to medium-sized enterprises get started? Evaluating technology is an important piece of the larger puzzle, and solutions today have a relatively low barrier to entry. However, other considerations should be made for how your business will shift to support continuous innovation.
Ultimately, the path to digitalization for small businesses can be easily achieved with the right mindset and tools. Balancing your expectations with measured decision-making will pay off in the short and long term. When sourcing new solutions, think about your ideal path for growth and nurture a digital infrastructure that leans on, not shies away from, technology. Customer behavior has changed, and strategies for experience management need to follow in step. Taking a digital-first approach to customer relationship management is key in expanding the kinds of opportunities a business has.
Ultimately, the path to digitalization for small businesses can be achieved with ease if leaders find the right mindset and tools. Customer behavior has changed, and strategies for experience management need to follow in step. Taking a digital-first approach to customer relationship management is key in expanding the kinds of opportunities a business has. The pandemic revealed many underpinnings of business understood to be unshakable were not so. As our understanding of its impact has evolved, so do our relationships to our customers. Building and sustaining connectivity to customers without the kind of contact that was previously possible has heightened the imperative to meet them where they are: online. Balancing your expectations with measured decision-making will pay off in the short and long term, but waiting could prove risky. When sourcing new solutions, think about your ideal path for growth and nurture a digital infrastructure that leans on, not shies away from, technology.
Iain Scholnick is the founder and CEO of Braidio (@braidthis), an award winning Customer Engagement platform powered by low-code and AI and delivered to the mobile edge of global CSPs such as AT&T, e&, Kandy and more. Braidio is CPaaS-enabled and integrated with AI powered productivity orchestration that threads all necessary information, knowledge, people, and business tools into a single point of white label ready, verticalized app productivity. To learn more about Braidio’s opportunities for small businesses and enterprises visit here.