Now that 2016 is well and truly upon us, we can reflect on the year that was 2015. Looking back, it was another big year for technology. We saw the introduction of the driverless car, the Apple Watch, and motorised skateboards; as well as some not so great technological accomplishments, such as the Ashley Madison hack, Lenovo machines shipped with pre-installed adware, and the VW scandal. If the 2016 predictions circulating the internet are anything to go by, the technology evolution is showing no signs of slowing down any time soon.
The technology evolution is not only changing the consumer world as we know it, but the business world too, with more and more companies implementing digital strategies and introducing new technologies to their processes and client experiences. While it can sometimes feel that technology is evolving at such as a pace it is impossible to keep up, there are a few simple ways for your business to reap the benefits of the digital age.
“Digitalise” is a term that can connote images of robot-run offices, expensive software and complicated procedures. While the word may be intimidating, in this post we try to demonstrate that there really is no reason not to embrace digitalisation for your business. And what better time than at the start of the new year.
The secret to a successful digital strategy is to firstly do your research and list all the digital options that make sense for your business. Once you have this, narrow the list down to just a few options that will be the most beneficial to your business. Then it is a matter of taking it one step at a time.
The best thing about implementing a digital strategy today, is that it’s never been easier to do so. With most technology being SaaS (Software As A Service), the technology company will install, host and automatically update the software, leaving very little for your business to do, except benefit from the savings, productivity, client satisfaction and business growth.
Here we list 5 of the easiest ways to digitalise your business that will not only be simple to implement, but offer a range of benefits that will leave you wondering why you didn’t “digitalise” your business sooner.
Customer Relationship Management software
One of the most effective digital tools on the market is a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software. While you may think that your Excel spreadsheet of client contacts is serving you well, it is actually hindering the growth of your business. An Excel spreadsheet does work well as a simplified contact list, but it can only take your client relationships so far. A CRM has the ability to take your business to the next level and beyond for a number of reasons.
A good CRM will save a contact’s complete history giving you complete transparency into the relationship between your brokers and their clients, taking a lot of the guess work out of which areas of the sales pipeline are performing well and which areas need improvement. The client history should not be able to be altered, conveniently providing an auditing history for compliance purposes.
CRM software also have other great tools that will assist in developing profound relationships with clients and prospects, including Opportunity Processes. These can be set up as pinpoints throughout the sales pipeline, with prompts to remind and guide your brokers, leading them to nurture more prospects through the pipeline into a conversion, more quickly.
Having a more complete picture of your clients and prospects will enable you to prepare marketing campaigns accordingly. A CRM will not only allow you to record the success of the marketing campaign, directing your future marketing efforts, but it can be the tool from which you launch your marketing campaign from, i.e. large scale email marketing.
Customer Relationship Management software is usually quite easy to implement, especially if you decide to go with one which is web based. A web based CRM will require minimal setup, can be accessed from any where as long as there is an internet connection, and is usually subscription based, eliminating huge upfront costs. However, as with all software that has high functionality, it is important that your staff get the proper training needed to make the most out of the CRM you decide to go with.
A CRM is a great digital tool to introduce into your business as it gives your brokers the means they need to develop those profound client relationships which are so important to the business of a brokerage.
Turn your Website into an e-Commerce Website
e-Commerce is not just for the retail industry, it can be applied to any industry that processes monetary transactions as part of their business. Thankfully transforming your website into an e-Commerce website it is not as complicated as it sounds and delivers a range of benefits.
An Online payment system is a module that is added easily into your existing website and hosted by the provider. It grants your clients convenience, allowing them to pay at any time of day, where ever they are. By driving clients to your website, more marketing and advertising opportunities arise, for example encouraging clients to signup to your e-newsletter or follow your social media . An online payment system also reduces back office processes, as it automates the majority of the process and eliminates incorrect payment allocation through its verification system.
How do you choose from the abundance of online payment systems out there? We recommend keeping these few things in mind: Security is of the utmost importance, not just to your business but to your clients; if your payment system doesn’t guarantee a secure environment to make a payment, your clients are unlikely to use it. The freedom to choose a financial provider that suits your needs is also worth considering, provided that your preferred financial institution can meet the basic online payments e-Commerce communications requirements. Lastly, ensure the module has been designed to accommodate for your business’ branding and colours; it should be able to look as though the online payment system is part of your website for the best client experience.
Customer Self Service
Thanks to technology, customer self service (CSS) is everywhere – from ATMs and supermarket checkouts, to create your own burger at McDonalds and design your own shoes at www.shoesofprey.com. Although it could be argued that people enjoy being served and waited on, people also like to be in control. This is particularly the case when it comes to their own personal information, such as an insurance policy or claim.
As with the online payment systems, customer self service provides convenience and flexibility to your clients by allowing them to access their information at any time of day, from anywhere in the world. Consider the current environment of the average consumer – they are time poor, globalised and constantly on the internet. It is almost an expectation of the client that they should be able to jump online, login to their account and see their policy, product disclosure or amount owing on their account, rather than have to wait for business hours, call in and be put on hold for 20 minutes as they get passed from person to person throughout the office. Needless to say, customer self service also frees up the time of your employees, allowing them to focus on the more important aspects of their job.
How does customer self service work? Using the Ebix range of CSS solutions as an example, it is a web service that gives your clients a one-way information feed from your Ebix database to your website. The level of access your clients have is completely up to you. It also offers flexible security, catering for various client access needs, for example access by an individual client to their data only, or access to multiple clients with a single login, ideal for authorised representatives needing to access multiple accounts. You can take the functionality of CSS even further and allow clients to generate online quotes or even process policies, all through your website.
Customer self service is easily integrated with most websites, making this another easy way to digitalise your business, without much effort.
Custom Web Applications
Similar to CSS, custom web applications deliver more control and convenience to your clients. They are designed to facilitate schemes or specialised insurance products, giving your clients the ability to create a quote online via your website. This digital tool is becoming more and more important as the client journey and sales pipeline continues to change as a result of the internet.
Not so long ago it was the case that if someone was interested in a product they would get in touch with a sales person who would tell them all about the product, its benefits and its costs, and use the power of persuasion to win them over. Nowadays if someone is interested in a product they will do all the research themselves online, and by the time they speak to a sales person they will be at the buying stage. This is very much a case of ‘you’ve got to be in it to win it’, i.e. if your product isn’t online, along with all the information about it, but your competitors’ have theirs, you may have lost a sale before you even knew you had a prospect.
If current technology is used as is with Ebix software, custom web applications can be integrated into your website quickly and seamlessly. Creating a custom web app using code is no longer necessary, making it a cost efficient, easy and speedy way to digitalise one aspect of your business.
Enterprise apps are probably the simplest way to make your business a little more digital, which is probably one of the reasons their popularity continues to grow year on year.
An enterprise app is a simplified version of an enterprise software. They are simplified specifically for easy and efficient use on a tablet or smartphone, making them an ideal tool for brokers on the road.
An enterprise app gives employees quick and easy access to company software while they’re at home, travelling or with a client. This adds flexibility to the workplace, improves productivity while out of the office, enhances communication between colleagues, reduces processing time, delivers real time information to clients while face to face with them, and increases employee job satisfaction for all the reasons just listed.
One of the highlights about an enterprise app is that your employees won’t really be learning a new software and will therefore pick it up very easily, making it a very simple and low impact way to introduce more digital elements into your business.
These 5 ways to digitalise your business demonstrates that introducing digital elements into your business doesn’t have to be overwhelming, and in fact can make day-to-day processes more efficient and cost effective. Embrace the digitalisation era; it is here to stay, and with it comes many benefits that your business could be missing out on.
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