Every day it seems there’s another threat to business-as-usual. One of the most profound changes for business operations in the last ten years is that nearly every customer now uses digital technology. This shift has influenced consumer behavior and expectations. Taking a “hard copy” approach to business today can be hazardous to your health. A bold digital strategy can mitigate threats and improve customer experience.
If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you know that I spent 25 years managing car dealerships. One would have to look far and wide to find another industry that is as resistant to change as retail automotive. What I witness everyday is how in-store operations do not reflect how customers prefer to buy.
There’s a disconnect between what consumers crave and what they actually experience.
This disconnect is evidenced in online reviews and social media. When you tack on the fact that, for a consumer, visiting a dealership is one of the last things they’d prefer to do, you often end up with negative perceptions and poor customer experience.
Every business – solopreneurs, small business, manufacturers, retailers, even large global corporations – wants to engage their customers in a unique way. Simply understanding the consumer and how they prefer to shop for and buy what you sell is not enough. You must update your processes so that customers feel welcome and eager to shop with you.
Digital is now baked into consumer shopping behavior.
Many businesses are not prepared to act on the fact that their customers wish to communicate via digital platforms. Additionally, many are not addressing certain consumer behaviors, such as “ROBO” (Research Online, Buy Offline), or web-influenced in-store sales.
To accommodate these and other digital behaviors requires a cross-functional team effort with executive leadership, sales, marketing, information technology (IT), and financial operations members.
But where do you turn when you know you’ve got to evolve but you don’t know where to start? The answer is Digital Strategy.
Digital strategy is simply preparing for the future success of your business.
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Like it or not, digital communication has become central to our lives. Implementing a digital strategy within your business cultivates meaningful communications with customers. Here are six reasons to adopt a digital strategy today.
1. Every business is a digital business.
Digital technologies enable us to be permanently connected, anytime and anywhere. The percentage of the connected population continues to grow rapidly. The integration of digital technologies into organizations across the U.S. has a profound impact on productivity, growth and profitability.
Many companies, of all shapes and sizes, have not embraced digital business at the scale they need to.
2. Today’s consumer expects a seamless brand experience.
Today’s digital landscape provides unprecedented access to information, products and services across a variety of channels.
Digital has allowed customers to determine what kind of service they want, when they want it and how it’s delivered. That has turned the traditional business model on its head.
Businesses must create a seamless brand experience, projecting their brand clearly across the many touch points, channels and devices their customers use.
3. The holistic approach (merging digital technology and operations practices) fosters efficiency, productivity and improved customer experience.
In order to compete and win the digital ecosystem, companies will need to weave digital into every element of the organization.
Currently, many businesses suffer from a patchwork of autonomous processes and tactics that have been implemented over the years, some even hampering business goals.
The business becomes reactionary to customer needs and the ever-present changes in the digital landscape.
4. Delivers an antidote to industry disruption.
Digitization is enabling new, disruptive models that aggressively compete with legacy models, putting measurable pressure on traditional business revenue and profit growth.
A solid digital strategy will focus on using technology to improve business performance, whether that means creating new products or reimagining current processes.
Bold digital strategies allow a business to transform itself into a more successful model that’s prepared to meet challenges.
- ‘Offensive strategies’ – such as targeting new demand, new supply or new business models.
- ‘Defensive strategies’ – such as bundling, rebundling and customizing current products and services to better serve existing customers. (Example: subscriptions and memberships)
5. Digital strategy provides updated processes with transformative results.
With the implementation of digital strategy, all facets of the business are examined and modernized. Seamless customer experience and increased revenue are substantial components but not the sole focus. Updated processes address:
- Protecting assets
- Financial reporting
- Policies and procedures
6. In the near future, all business strategy will be digital strategy.
Dean Evans, CMO at Hyundai, was interviewed recently and said, “Customers are choosing experiences today, often over make and model.”
The act of meeting and exceeding customer expectations has always been a cornerstone of successful business. Digital technology and social media are interconnected with consumer purchase behavior.
It’s clear that implementing a digital business strategy sooner rather than later positions an organization for future success and a competitive edge.