Is your Business Yesterday Today?

By: Roger Harrop, The CEO Expert.
Microsoft recently reported research that shows that for many market sectors, remarkably, 85% of the sale has been completed by the time a client first makes contact with the company.
What does this mean for you?
Well, the old rules no longer apply. Things that were important in your business, but perhaps not massively important, should now be up there as one of your top priorities as the business leader.
You cannot afford to be a yesterday today business.
How easy is it to navigate through your website to discover precisely what it is you do?
How easy is it to understand the options that you have available and find the product or the service that might be right for me as a potential client or customer?
These days everything is about ease-of-use and convenience, and one of the acid tests is just how many keystrokes does it take to discover what I want to about you and your company from your website to enable me to take a decision that is very close to, if not actually, placing an order?
Amazon, for example, make it incredibly easy for us to find exactly what we want, understand the options and to make a purchase.
How good is your website? Is your website and overall customer experience as good as Amazon’s?
If not, why not?
How good is your customer experience? Are all your customer communications simply exceptional – not judged on benchmarks of two years ago or even six months ago but here and now?
Does your website – indeed your whole customer experience reflect your company personality and culture? I once had a Client who were very proud of their ‘family feel’ culture and how important people were to them – their employees and their whole stakeholder community, including their customers. Their website, however, reflected none of this – it was cold, formal and there was not one picture of a person – not an employee, nor a customer nor even a stock photo!
Anyone now seeking a product or service – B2C or B2B –  the first step they will take is almost certainly to Google whatever it is they are looking for.
Will they find you? – do you ‘own’ your Google page? – you should.
After landing on your site you want them to explore and be impressed by not just what they find but the ease of discovery. They will then, maybe, read some testimonials and look at any possible product ratings.
They are going to go through an online “search and decide” process, and when they finally come to contact you, they will be predisposed to buy, but maybe have one or two queries or clarifications to finally make their decision.
What we need to do is to make that process of discovery as easy as possible – of what we do, our value propositions and who we are – in the simplest of detail. Our responses to any questions need to be fast, friendly and unambiguous.
When I first start to work with an organization one of the things I do is to go to their website and send an enquiry through their “contact us” link.  I regularly do the same with other companies too. You may not believe the results I get – many never respond at all, and the majority will take days rather than hours to respond.
That’s simply not good enough.
When did you (yes – you!) last check yours?
Your website and your entire customer communication and response process is now far too important to be left to anyone else. It’s got to be on the top table, and CEOs must personally ensure that it’s the very best it can be. It is not something that you can delegate anymore.
My son and his family are planning to have a major extension built to their house. Having had an architect complete the design they firstly needed structural engineers to confirm it’s viability after which they sent a tender pack to a number of interested builders for them to quote. In both cases they clearly asked for a total price be given and to include VAT (valued added tax – 20% in the UK).
Almost all of both the structural engineers and the builders who quoted totally ignored this request and gave unit prices only and excluding VAT!
Even if this may be an ‘industry norm’ to do this is it totally mindless if you wish to survive  as a business.
Another business dynamic in the marketplace that we cannot afford to ignore is the rise of online shopping – for just about anything.
Kantar World Panel’s research data shows that the UK, France, China, and Korea are the top countries for digital shopping, and everywhere else it’s growing fast. They say that whilst ecommerce accounts for only 4.6% of the fast-moving consumer goods market globally, it represents 35% of the growth – 8 times its weight in the market.
So if you are in retail or, most importantly, if your customers are retailers, you can’t ignore these fast moving trends.  Ipsos‘ recent retail performance figures for the UK show that retail footfall in the UK has gone down 10.6% in the last year- that is massive!
It’s not surprising we’re hearing of major retailers closing stores and it’s not surprising the massive focus being put by them into online shopping.
Are you looking at how you might be affected and planning your strategies to respond?
Westfield, the shopping center group, have published the results of the extensive research into the retail sector and they identified a massive transformational retail shift.
How We Shop Now: Whats Next? identified 5 important trends in the retail space: Rental Retail, Classroom Retail, Enhanced Reality Retail, Loyalty Programs that recognized good choices, and Sensory Retail.
For bricks and mortar retail spaces to survive, they argue, these are the things that they have to address and any of us who supply retail, also need to take these  onboard and start transforming our businesses now.
Starbucks recently reported on how even they are battling the “devastating” impact of changing consumer behaviour. One of the things they say is that it illuminates a “seismic shift” in consumer behaviour and the devastating impact this sea change is having on many traditional brick and mortar retailers.
Everything in business is changing by orders of magnitude faster than every before.
Are you?
So what have I been doing in so far this year? I’m running a series of four masterclasses over the year for a Mastermind group of around 20 members of the exceptional Friends of Executive based in Malmö, Sweden. It’s a suite of four and so far we’ve completed the first two with two more in September and November.
Then they will get repeated next year with a new select Mastermind group. Can’t wait!
Last month FOE had their big annual conference in delightful Bastad and my good friend – and the global expert on Customer Experience – Shaun Smith gave a fabuolous speech.
If you are running a business or a charity in southern Sweden or Denmark, believe me, you and your business would benefit greatly by joining FOE.
As both an engineer and a Brit, I was really pleased to see that Sir James Dyson is now number 14 in the rich list of the UK – worth £7.8 billion! He’s an engineer, an inventor and a entrepreneur. He has built a world-class highly innovative business absolutely from nothing.
I find that truly heartwarming!
Latest Speaking Clips
Talking of haert warming,do have a look at this great TED talk
I hope you enjoy this newsletter and find it useful.
Thankyou for your support!
Roger Harrop
PS. Isn’t this great – a Rolls Royce for kids in surgery!