Many of you know that in one way or another the web plays an important part of modern day business thinking. Where many people get stuck is at the point of understanding what part it should play in your business. We need to break this down a little to get a clearer picture of your business before we can clearly make the case for the use of the web in your business.
The reason why the web has been so successful is that it impacts the same key business functions irrespective of the size of the organization. Customer services, sales, productivity, efficiency, the list goes on. Whether you are a small business of one to five people or a large organization employing 2000 people and more, these functions of business are universal.
The key difference between a business that enjoys great successes versus one that doesn’t is that the entrepreneur in the first business is able to see the business as a mechanical engine that has multiple parts that all need to function correctly for the engine to perform at its best. Being able to identify the individual parts and the impact it has on the business as a whole is a major advantage since it puts you in the position to take action on those areas that require attention and to prioritize action in terms of what is most important to the business at any particular point in time.
These functions are essentially business processes that can be quantified in terms of the costs, benefits and so forth. If you are at a point where you can understand your individual business processes, you may have taken it one step further and analyzed the impact of each of these processes in terms of questions like “Is this the best service I can offer the customer?” or “Is this a process that whilst necessary is highly inefficient and costs the business a lot of time and money?”. Perhaps you’ve even taken the extra step and quantified it by putting numbers to this thought process. Numbers such as time taken to answer calls, telephone costs, cost of resources necessary to answer those calls, potential sales lost due to late responses, and so on.
So this is where the web comes in from our perspective. The web certainly doesn’t make your current business, resources or tools redundant, but rather it has the potential to enhance them, smooth out certain processes and give you extra hands where you thought you had none.
Web Enable Your Business – Example
Take a very simple example: Your startup company sells a patented ground breaking cleaning chemical, but since operations have only just started the primary focus is on getting sales, but you also feel concerned that you’re not able to deal with existing customer queries effectively, such as ad-on sales queries, account queries, availability queries, etc. What we’re talking about here is customer service! The problem is not that you’re unable to attend to these queries; the problem is more that you receive all the queries via phone or e-mail and have to spend a significant amount of time reading through them and acting on them, your time, time that could be spent on getting the next sale!
What if you can create a contact form on your website that has different query types for the user to select such as Account Query, Sales Query, Service Query, etc? If the customer chooses Account Query this contact form can automatically direct the query to your bookkeeper or the person responsible for your accounts. This saves you the time of having to scan through a multitude of different e-mails forwarding them on to the relevant people. It improves the customer’s experience of your business since their query is received directly by the responsible person who is then in a position to immediately act on the request. It also reduces the chances of this communication from your customer getting lost.
Again, whether you’re in charge of a small business or a large corporate doesn’t matter since these frustrations are faced by businesses of all sizes.
The bonus here is that if you had this contact form built for your website, it remains yours and continues to operate 24 hours a day and for as long as you deem it useful. If you apply the numbers again you will quickly find out that the time it has saved you is well worth the money spent on web enabling this particular business process.
Now start to think about other functions in your business that could benefit from this thinking process. Bookings, sales, marketing, stock availability, complaints, events co-ordination, campaigns, lead generation, the list is virtually endless. If you’re serious about applying your mind in such a way as to fully gain the benefits of the web, start to break down the functions of your business and establish a point where you can begin to web enable some or all of those processes.