IT & Your Customers | Extraordinary Business

Technology is not (yet!) a viable replacement for direct interaction

imageOne of the things that has made the 21st century very interesting is the amount of access we have to people, businesses and organizations through wallet size (and smaller) devices!  It is amazing what we can do, how much we can accomplish just about anywhere we go, from sending text messages to emails to scheduling appointments…but can it go to far?  Does it help or hurt our bottom line?

For example: there are a number of online scheduling solutions that will allow your clients to choose days and times to meet with you or members of your team.  They simply need to go to your free/busy calendar and sign up for a time slot or slots that will work best for them.  They will receive an email confirmation, your technology, you or someone from your team will probably send a friendly email reminder a day or two before the meeting to remind them of it and you will have your meeting.

Pretty straightforward, right?

Not actually.  Not unless you don’t mind missing out on opportunities and leaving your customer experience to chance.  Certainly, there are benefits to leveraging technology this way, which include:

IT & Your Customers | Extraordinary Business | Aepiphanni Business Consulting 1

  • Convenience.  Your client or customers can access your schedule at any time and set up their appointment
  • Efficiency: getting the appointment set up is typically a quick and painless event that usually won’t involve jostling schedules around to accommodate one another.
  • Productive: instead of being interrupted by yet one more phone call, you are able to continue with your workday and need only to respond to the email.

Of course, with every upside, there seems to be a balancing “down side”

  • Oops! – did you forget to update your calendar to make sure that the time slots you said were available are actually available?  Mistakes happen!  So, you simply call and make the adjustment.  And start the process over again
  • Impersonal: While it is nice to be able to book airline tickets and purchase software and items through the internet, what often makes the difference between services is their level of customer service.  Even a bad experience can be rectified with great customer service.  As a matter of fact, great customer service is often a big differentiator.
  • Missed opportunities: as savvy as technology is, it lacks the intuition to “read into” what a customer or client is or isn’t saying, which means that if there is a point of hesitation or a misunderstanding that results in a deal breaker, leveraging technology will never meet.

While leveraging technology to make your company run efficiently, keep in mind that the customer will typically dictate how they wish to be served and what they are willing to pay for their service.  You will probably notice that many companies that have a high level of service are able to charge more for their service.  You could probably name a number of other companies that do the exact opposite, making it nearly impossible to speak directly to someone, and when you do, the level of service is inappropriate for the investment you are making in the company.

What it boils down to is that you, as the business owner, have to make the choice to be ordinary, or go the extra mile to pursue building an extraordinary business.

Aepiphanni Business Consulting: The Business Strategy People is an Atlanta, Georgia based Operations Management and Business Strategy Consulting Firm dedicated to serving the needs of small to medium sized business leaders. We help business leaders DESIGN| CREATE | BUILD extraordinary businesses.  We support our clients with financial management, product and service production and delivery, outsourced services management, sales & marketing and business growth.  We provide them with a number of flexible solutions to help them reach their goals.

Join us for a 30-minute complimentary Coffee & a Consult, to learn more about Aepiphanni and how we might help you move your company from existing to extraordinary.

Technorati Tags: extraordinary business,business leadership,small business,business growth,technology,IT,customers,customer service,value chain

Rick Meekins

Rick Meekins is the Managing Partner at Aepiphanni, a Business Consultancy, an Atlanta, GA based small business consultancy that provides Management Consulting, Implementation and Managed Services to business leaders and entrepreneurs seeking to improve or expand operations.

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