As 2016 draws to a close, businesses are already starting to make their resolutions for the next year. Whether it's a change in business strategy or investing in new business management software, now is as good a time as any to make the necessary changes to ensure 2017 is a good year for your company. We take a look at some of the key trends currently affecting businesses and the strategies that can be adopted to help ensure business success in the New Year.
Most businesses understand the importance of customer service, but the power of social media and the speed at which poor service can now be spread through social networks means businesses need to invest in a culture of customer service. Customer retention is essential to ensuring future sales. As such, providing outstanding customer service and positive customer experiences should always play a key role in a company’s marketing plans.
American research and advisory firm, Gartner, predicted that in 2017 “89% of marketers expect customer experience to be their primary differentiator”. In order to be successful, businesses need to create customer experiences that encourage long-lasting relationships between the customer and the company. Customers need to be segmented into specific groups and businesses need to understand which customers are their best advocates. Furthermore, appropriate content needs to be directed to the most influential brand advocates.
Most companies are already undertaking some advocate marketing, such as case studies, videos, quotes, and testimonials. Advocate marketing needs to find and engage satisfied customers as a powerful marketing force. Companies should focus on building an army of happy customers which can be activated to promote products. They can be used to take reference calls, create and share content and more. As advocate marketing becomes more popular, we can expect to see customers:
The millennials are the generation born between 1980 and 2000 and they are increasingly influential in the marketplace. Some of their behaviour and attributes reflect their age and relative lack of responsibilities but they also bring additional dimensions to the workplace.
In particular, a defining characteristic of the millennial generation is their natural affinity with the digital world. They have grown up with technology such as smartphones and tablets, the Internet, information exchange, social media, etc. As such, they generally have a better grasp of technology than their seniors.
However, it’s not just technology that differentiates the millennial generation; they also behave differently in the workplace. They generally tend to be more focused on their personal needs as opposed to those of the organisation and they recognise the importance of a good work/life balance. They tend to be put off by rigid corporate structures and information silos. They also have high expectations in terms of progression, require varied and interesting experiences in work and demand a different culture in the workplace.
With that being said, millennials are equipped for success in the digital age as they are adept at utilising technology and respond positively to technological improvements. Businesses need staff who can utilise and optimise technology to undertake tasks through project management software and also for collaboration and initiatives focused on improving productivity.
In 2017 businesses will need a strategy to engage with millennials. This is best achieved by creating a work environment where social networking, instant messaging, video on demand, blogs, etc. are adopted so that millennials feel connected. Ultimately, this will allow workforces to better engage and collaborate with one another, leading to better productivity across the enterprise.Companies such as Google and Apple are already focused on this group of workers and enjoying the benefits derived from their attributes.
A company’s website is becoming increasingly important as consumers conduct online research on products and services before committing to a purchase. Yet, less than 50% of businesses have a website that works appropriately on mobile devices.
A responsive website is able to change its appearance based on the screen size of the device on which it is loaded. A user who visits a website from a desktop or laptop computer will see a traditional website with full navigation, copy and images. Visitors who use a tablet or mobile device will see a different version of the website, one that has been adapted, with elements eliminated or modified, so that it is best suited to the needs of the mobile user. A responsive web presence will be a key requirement for a business in 2017, especially as 25% of mobile users only access the Internet using their mobile phones.
Business Intelligence (BI) is becoming increasingly prevalent where businesses can benefit from gathering and analysing data, which is retrieved from fragmented data sources. BI enables this data to be translated into information that can be used to improve a business.
Many businesses have multi-channel sales activities along with multiple systems to support these channels. For example, a hotel may have a reservation system for room bookings as well as additional systems for bar and restaurant sales, leisure activities (e.g. spa) etc. Customers can be duplicated in these different systems and individual activities are not held in one location, making it difficult to obtain meaningful information for marketing purposes.
BI tools are used to bring data together, cleansing and de-duping it so it can be made available for use in marketing. For example, to develop a campaign that offers a discount for using the spa if this was an activity a visitor had previously used. More advanced BI tools can be used to monitor data in real-time. These tools will deliver relevant information into a single dashboard that can be monitored for trends and variations in customer needs and wants. BI can help companies stand apart from the competition as they become better informed and can focus on activities that lead to increased profit.
Mobile applications (apps) provide limited and isolated functionality on mobile devices as opposed to integrated software solutions that can be found on PCs. Whilst mobile websites are made up of browser-based HTML pages that are linked and accessed via the Internet, apps are downloaded and installed on a device. Apps may pull content and data from the Internet, but they can also download content, which allows the app to work without Internet connection.
Apps are often used to provide access to games, dashboards, make bookings and payments, etc. For businesses, it’s becoming increasingly important to showcase their products and services via a mobile application. Mobile apps are particularly relevant to a number of scenarios such as CRM, billing and invoicing, HR, marketing and automation and project management.
Nowadays most apps are developed specifically for the mobile environment. They are sometimes preloaded on devices but otherwise easily downloaded from app stores or via the Internet. Apps are particularly relevant when:
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