First, think of some companies spending huge amounts of money on advertising; those with TV advertisements in slots around programs with large viewing figures is a good place to start. Next, consider your perception of the quality of the customer service offered by these companies.
Many companies are hemorrhaging customers due to poor service and at the same time spending a fortune on trying to get new ones. Now call me old fashioned, but if these companies spent some time and money trying to understand the reasons they are losing customers and then doing something about it they would find themselves with a win, win, win situation. Customers would be happier (and more likely to recommend the company to their friends), the company would lose less customers and they could save a fortune in advertising costs.
I admit I have no data to back this up, but I’m happy to go with my gut feeling and leave you out there to agree with, or correct me.
Many international IT companies are changing their business model with the aim of selling their software and services using a Cloud Computing model and others are providing server farms to support this strategy. As an example Microsoft are trying to sell us their Cloud based Office 365 service as an alternative to buying copies of Microsoft Office for installation on our office or home computer.
Cloud based services are, in theory, a great idea but they are dependent on the end user having a suitable internet connection to the computers of their service supplier. Here is the major flaw in what should be a perfect solution, the internet connection.
In the UK we generally have a choice between an ‘up to a lot’ megabit Broadband service which often delivers ‘not a lot’ (have you tried broadband in rural areas?) or a solution based on the mobile phone network. The mobile phone network may provide reasonable speeds if you are stationary and in an area with good network coverage but move around and you will find how patchy the coverage really is.
Both types of broadband connectivity are likely to have a poor service level agreement (SLA) so be prepared for you network connection, and therefore your access to your services in the Cloud, to be missing for days at a time if things go wrong. If you have lots of money you could go for a fibre connection with an SLA appropriate for your needs but I suspect the the numbers who are being sold Cloud solutions are lower than those who have appropriate Internet connections.
So, where does that leave us? Good question, but the answer is less easy. In reality we probably have a lot of sellers of Cloud solutions who won’t meet their sales targets, customers who will have to live with enforced multi-day holidays while they wait for their broadband to be fixed and broadband suppliers who will be under increasing pressure to get their act together to supply the service their customers need at a realistic price.
So, before you float off into the Cloud, away from PC based solutions, make sure you have a cunning plan that will stop your business grinding to a halt while you have no broadband connection.
Many businesses are coming to the conclusion that they need to use Social Media. Not a bad conclusion so well done so far! Or is it well done? The conclusion is probably sound but the reason the business reached it may be less so. Did this ‘need’ to use Social Media arise from a properly developed business case or because someone noticed competitors, customers and business contacts are using Social Media?
In these unplanned cases what happens next is likely to include someone rushing off to sign up for company Twitter and Facebook accounts and an email being sent to key staff asking them to sign up to LinkedIn. You now have a set of accounts but are you clear what you want to achieve from using them and will you be able to measure what you have achieved?
You are unlikely to use this approach in other key areas of your business, you are more likely to define a business strategy and goals then come up with a plan and suitable tools to deliver them. Consider Social Media as one of many tools available to your business and use it where appropriate to help deliver your business plan, don’t use it in isolation to keep up with the pack.