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Staying Plugged In (Getting Back to Work 6/26)


Technology adoption can be scary and expensive if it's not planned for in a way that makes sense for your business. As a company, Intelligent Partnerships provides workforce design strategies for government and corporate clients. Our focus is on delivering cost saving support that allows our clients to execute on their core business. Understanding our customers' business priorities is our number one objective and improving their condition through efficient process, and technology adoption has helped make us one of the fastest growing consulting firms in the space. That being said, we are only as good as our latest success. By starting from the desired “end-state” view, our teams are able ask questions and make recommendations based on real, anticipated utilization, and as you think about the way your teams and customers will interact with you going forward, it's critical to know how you want them engaging with each process or transaction before you invest.

So yes, we have all been schooled on the value (and hurdles) available in tools that provide remote video and log-in alternatives that were temporary solutions. Now we have to determine which options will stay and which need to go. If you manage a small team that has to directly connect with clients to sell a product or service an investment in, then expensive, remote secure server options may not be the right solution, even if it keeps employees out of the office. This doesn’t automatically require extensive analysis, but it does mean you will need to lay out step-by-step how you want employees and customers to connect with you both in-person and virtually. We recommend starting with an employee-centered plan. Ensuring every precaution for their safety and mapping how clients interact with each responsibility in your organization becomes foundational to your client journey as well.

Once you have decided how teams will deliver their work, you can move to creating the most effective interaction strategies for clients. You should have had an opportunity to re-imagine workplace structure over the last few months but if you haven’t you can find some fundamental planning tips for returning to work here.  This type of evaluation and planning can lead to a service model design that works in our collective new reality and transitions your business into a customer centered delivery brand that is consistent.

In determining the types of tools you need to adopt for effective and safe transaction, you need to answer this simple question first: Why? Why do you need new tools to deal with clients you already have? Can your existing model manage in a COVID-19 environment and provide a comfortable experience for your clients? If so, then focus on improving that existing working model. If the answer is no, then here are some things to consider as you review:

1. Does the technology depend on my existing workforce, blend those responsibilities, or act independent of our teams?

Consider the evolution of Artificial Intelligence (AI). This simple solution now regularly transforms the first contact with clients into a completely new, and often worker free experience. Chatbots, for example, are now commonplace on websites and help clients navigate information as if they were directly working with a customer service provider. In many cases, businesses start the transaction with a bot and transition the customer to a live employee once the machine understands the client's needs.

2. Does the solution help us understand our customer better?

One valuable way businesses of all sizes are improving client service and creating unique experiences is through the use of big data and data capture technology. The use of analytics and “click through” technology now allows businesses to understand the purchaser psychology and can inform your company on what products clients value and which are less appealing, all from a few clicks. Learn more about Big Data and how organizations are using it to re-invent their client experience in this report from EY. According to Forbes Magazine, “Using intelligent analyses based on self-learning algorithms, companies will be able to gain valuable insights into the behavior of their customers and can derive new approaches for improving the customer experience” (Govind 2019).

3. Does the technology leverage other sources to drive business outcomes

Some tools offer more value and ROI than others. Think about the evolution of “word of mouth” advertising. Who would have known that a single bad Yelp review or a great selfie with your product or team could transform a business? Tools that deliberately connect web portals, social media, video testimonials, and client experiences are worth more now than ever. The mix of technology connecting your business to Alexa, YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok vary greatly, but you can control the story and influence the space by having your clients support your narrative through their own experiences. This doesn't have to be expensive, but it does need to be strategic. Here is a great session with Gary Vaynerchuck* (CEO of Vayner Media and internet business guru) speaking with small business owners that lays out the value of leveraging social media for scaling business.

*WARNING: This video contains strong language, which may be offensive to some. 

The tools you need will rely heavily on the business you manage and not the other way around. The standards you will need to meet differ based on your activity - clearly a small restaurant will need different tools than a manufacturing plant. But the underlying questions are the same:

1. Will it create additional protections for clients and our team?

2. Will it improve product service delivery?

3. Will it accelerate client interactions?

4. Will it improve accountability?

5. Will it help us capture new business?

6. Will it help our supply chain partners?

7. Will the efficiencies created outweigh the costs?

8. Is adoption simple?

9. Does it come with real support or am I on my own once I buy it?

10. Can it evolve with my business and growth needs?

Whatever space you operate in now, our current market conditions have created an opportunity to evaluate the approach to client interactions you use, provide ample flexibility to create safe spaces to do business and can transform your business model into a high performing design. Learn more at www.ipartnerships.net.

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