Three decades ago, the technology behind many of the business tools we now take for granted was in its infancy. From Nokia’s first mobile phone to Google.com, a lot happened in the 1990s without which a modern business would struggle to function.
Keeping up with technology and rapid developments can be overwhelming, but the companies that can see the opportunities it offers are those that continue to grow and meet the demands of a digitally savvy customer base.
For entrepreneur and business leader Jim Penman, founder and CEO of Jim’s Group, the enormous growth his company has experienced since its beginnings in 1989 has been to continually look to emerging technologies to improve the customer experience.
“The biggest key to success in business isn’t having a brilliant idea — it’s the attitude that you look at your business every day and say, how can I do better? The use of technology is a great example of this,” he says.
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Although technology has advanced rapidly and there are complicated tools, no matter the size of the business, there is likely a digital solution for a more efficient way of doing things.
For example, in the 1990s, it was very difficult to find leads, says Penman. “I had people knocking on doors looking for work for lawnmower contractors.”
Fast forward 20 years and due to an unwavering focus on customer service and using technology to find out what customers and franchisees want, the company has reduced advertising and sees over 240,000 leads. unserved pass through the head office each year. .
“We measure customer service, we measure franchisee satisfaction, we measure everything, and technology is a real key to that,” says Penman.
The company’s way of doing this is no more complicated than using mobile phone technology.
“It’s as simple as sending a survey via SMS and using that as a feedback mechanism. This has improved the level of customer satisfaction and given franchisees huge motivation.
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Listen to the customer
Victoria Webster, CX specialist at Amazon Web Services, says Penman’s customer-centric approach is key to growing the business.
“These customer conversations are truly a goldmine, it’s where your customers will tell you their wants, needs, and wants. It helps you figure out where you can improve, what channel they want to use, and how. they want you to interact with them,” Webster explains.
Another example Penman gives is how to use technology to reduce time spent on administrative tasks, which can then free up a business owner to focus on other areas of the business, such as increasing market share.
“We are working on a system that will allow a customer to book directly on a franchisee’s agenda. So instead of having to ring and leave a message and then wait for a callback, the customer can see that there’s a space available between 2 and 4 p.m. today and reserve it immediately,” says Penman.
Not only is it good for business efficiency, says Webster, but it’s also what customers want.
“That’s where the market is moving. It’s about self-service and digital diversion where possible. People want to make basic transactions easily rather than waiting an hour and a half on the phone to speak to someone, especially if they just need some information.
Sky is the limit
Continuous innovation around cloud-based software solutions and increased competition for market share have now made sophisticated technology tools available and affordable for small businesses.
For many, the most obvious and immediate savings come from not having to invest in data centers or hire IT support to take care of hardware.
That wasn’t always the case, Webster says. Prohibitive costs and complicated algorithms have kept it in the realm of big business.
“Just five years ago, if you wanted to have speech analytics or voice biometrics or any new exciting AI service, you had to be a big company because it was a very expensive business. democratized and is now possible for all sizes of companies.
Penman says there is no doubt that using a cloud computing platform has helped the company’s growth in several ways, including providing reliable data security.
“It’s much more cost effective to use a cloud computing platform than to use your own servers. Another benefit is scalability – we have several things in mind that could dramatically increase the size of our business and the great thing about the cloud is that there is no limit.