By the end of 2020, Gartner predicts that 85% of all customer service interactions will start with self-service. In fact, many businesses are expecting to implement self-service portals within the next year.
But is self-service just a marketing hype? No. If digital self-service isn’t in the plan for improving customer experience, then business leaders will find themselves behind the curve.
Why Use a Self-Service Portal?
Self-service is the first step toward excellent digital customer experiences. Not only is self-service foundational for serving modern customer needs, but it is also key to decreasing cost-to-serve. Additionally, times of crisis expedite the need for digital and self-service capabilities in order to quickly meet the shifting needs of customers.
The benefits of successfully implementing a portal with self-service elements include:
Decrease in number of support calls. Customers can easily find the answers they are looking for online, thus lowering the number of calls coming in.
Decrease in response time. Since customers can quickly search and surface the information they need to, customer service reps can quickly handle more complicated interactions and questions instead of spending their time repeatedly answering the same questions.
Decrease in total support costs. Maintaining self-service channels is cheaper than managing live support channels.
Increase in total support volume handled. Self-service enables more customers to be served in a shorter time span.
Increase in traffic. Having self-service establishes brand credibility and trust, so customers will view the portal as a useful tool and visit more frequently.
Increase in customer satisfaction. By providing self-service, customers are able to select how they interact with the customers, thereby building an experience that they prefer.
Examples of Effective Self-Service Portals
Leaders around the world recognize the benefit of delivering self-service not only to lower the cost of customer service operations, but also to provide an engaging experience with customers that empowers and serves them in the way they prefer. Here are a few examples of how businesses have been leveraging their modern self-service portals.
Decreasing Support Calls: EATEL EATEL, a US-based communications company that provides internet and phone services, built a responsive self-service customer portal to better support the needs of its residential and business customers. The launch of the new portal brought reduced customer service calls, improved accessibility through responsive design, decreased billing issues, and increased customer satisfaction. More than 50% of calls coming into the residential call center were payment related. The user-guided self-service account management portal simplified interactions reduced these calls by 30%. Business customers love the control that they now have over contacts, permissions and more from their own login instead of calling in with each request.
Empowering Customers: VMware As an industry leader in cloud infrastructure and IT solutions, VMware needed a user-friendly customer portal. Using Liferay, the new MyVMware is an integrated, account-based portal that allows customers to manage product license keys and support. Millions of users can search for information quicker, access self-service downloads and evaluations and enter multiple sites through a single account. The launch of the new portal has led to a decrease in the number of support calls and increase in satisfaction scores, due to enhanced usability and efficiency.
Providing Better Customer Experiences: Spire Spire, the fifth largest publicly traded gas utility in the U.S., needed to integrate its two separate online account management websites to a single platform solution to improve their customer service experience. The self-service portal they launched successfully integrates with existing ERP systems, two payment processing systems, and two mobile workforce management systems. It also displays gas usage charts, enables online bill payment, and provides self-service tools for enrolling in payment arrangements, such as paperless billing. The My Account site is easy to use and responsive for all devices. After receiving this positive feedback from customers, Spire plans to introduce cutting-edge features such as real-time technician tracking and smart device integration in the near future. These leaders are leveraging self-service to bring value to not only their customers but also to optimize their business operations.
Smoothly functioning customer support is particularly important for big companies that already have a solid reputation and don’t want to undermine it. At the same time, the larger the company is and the more clients and locations it has, the more challenging it is to make customer support run like a Swiss watch. Below, I describe some typical challenges that big enterprises experience with customer support and share tips to handle them.
Challenge 1 – Disjointed case management
Most problems with case management stem from an inefficient collaboration between customer support of different departments or branches. There is neither a unified case management hub with automated case assignment and case escalation processes nor visibility into the whole case management pipeline.
Tip – Consolidated case management with reliable software
You can coordinate disjointed case management with reliable customer support software. The customer support application will help divide a case life cycle into stages, starting from a customer’s inquiry to closing a case. Support team members will be able to track all the cases seeing how and when they are solved.
Challenge 2 – A lot of recurring issues
Customer support teams in enterprises are daily loaded with hundreds of incoming tickets from customers. A great number of these tickets are similar and quite easy to resolve, but by addressing them over and over again, agents delay tackling more challenging issues.
Tip – A knowledge base for customers’ self-support
Identify the most common issues your clients experience with your products or services and prepare comprehensive and easy-to-digest materials for customers’ self-support. Creating a knowledge base for clients will reduce the number of repetitive questions your agents receive and save their time for resolving more advanced technical problems. Furthermore, it will boost the satisfaction level of the customers who prefer solving issues independently instead of contacting the support team.
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Challenge 3 – Lack of consistency across multiple communication channels
For the convenience of their customers, enterprises offer support through multiple communication channels – from phone to social media. But the more communication channels a company uses, the more management difficulties it faces.
Tip – Consolidated communication channels
Customer service software enables funneling all your communication channels into one place. As a result, you can provide omni-channel communication convenient both to your customers and support agents. It will facilitate ticket assignment and escalation and help agents track and answer customers’ questions faster.
Challenge 4 – Unhappy customers take French leave
Clients dissatisfied with the level of support you provide tend to switch to a competitor rather than wait for you to take action and make amends. And even if you think everything goes smoothly with your customer support, chances are you are missing some flaws that make your customers leave with no explanation.
Tip – Feedback from customers
Let your customers speak up by asking them for feedback after an issue is resolved. I recommend you to conduct surveys to collect customer feedback. You can choose between short surveys that pop up on your website and help you target specific issues, or longer, traditional ones that include more questions.
Go for advanced enterprise customer support for a solid reputation
Big businesses put their reputation first, and customer support largely determines a company’s image. The tips described above will help enterprises tackle customer support challenges and, as a result, grow a base of happy and loyal customers.
Cloud computing involves servers, databases, software and analytics, storage, and various intelligent solutions over the internet.
Cloud computing also provides quick innovation and flexible resources to scale up business productivity and economy. With the advent of technology, cloud computing has drawn a big shift from traditional business prerequisites and resources. Cloud computing management also eliminates the capital expenses of purchasing hardware or software setup and the team can easily manage the cloud infrastructure.
However, it takes lots of consideration and in-depth knowledge of the solutions to develop cloud management strategies. You have to be aware of market trends and the Cloud computing ecosystem. Follow this and learn about the same in detail.
Change your perception about the cloud management services
The only hurdle that limits small or medium-sized businesses from leveraging the advantages of cloud usually comes from the high-level business owners. Mostly it is seen that business leaders easily delegate the decisions based on cloud to their teams. However, it is important to understand that the decision to opt for a cloud is basically a business strategy but not an IT strategy. This is possibly the first step that you have to understand by auto start developing sound management strategies for your platform. You have to make some essential mental shifts that are:
Competitive benefit- If you are not using any sort of cloud integration services for your business then you are definitely behind your competition. also, it is an opportunity through which you can expand the productivity and profitability of your business.
Think differently- If you have the decision-making under your control then you have to equally think about the market share, productivity, profits, and efficiency of the platform. While The IT professional will only think in terms of all the technical specifications like bandwidth, software, gigaflops, users, etc. Basically it is your job to think about the requirements of a company, and IT professionals have to prioritize migrating to the cloud.
Cloud is absolutely a strategy- Cloud management is not just an option to store the data but its functionality is beyond that. Cloud services can provide faster, cheaper, and safer options for your business along with increasing the scalability in the best possible ways.
The perception towards cloud and big data solutions might seem trivial in the beginning but until you change your perception with the cloud technology, it is difficult to forward with management strategies to leverage its full potential.
How the organisations can leverage cloud services across their functionality
At present, cloud integration services have become the ultimate foundation of every enterprise that is actively transforming and differentiating the instances. Many recognized platforms are emphasizing a cloud-first approach in order to turn the attention of advancing cloud services across their business. It is often stated that if you have not indulged in a cloud-first strategy for your business then your business is more likely to fall behind your competitors. While building, maturing, implementing the cloud management strategies it is important to have these steps in mind. Let’s walk you through them-
DEVELOPING CLOUD FIRST AND MULTI CLOUD MANAGEMENT STRATEGY-Beyond the purview of IT companies, the cloud-first strategy for software development services or other tasks should be extended. The platforms also have to focus on essential technical steps that might be required while implementing this strategy. It is important to evangelize the benefits that can yield maximum profitability and a competitive edge. It is important to understand that the cloud-first approach does not always mean ‘cloud always’. Irrespective of the approach that is crucial to prioritize your investment so that you can advance the growth of your organization with the help of cloud services.
CONTINUOUS PRACTICE OF WORKLOAD PLACEMENT AND ANALYSIS- Various assessments have been undertaken to emphasize the feature comparison alternative because of the workload placement. As the cloud and big data solutions are emerging to be their best, it has possibly replaced the traditional on-premise data management practices. The continuous workload placement analysis conducts reassessing the workload at a regular cadence and then evaluates if their implementation and execution are meeting the requirements of the organization or not. It also involves analyzing the migration of alternative models and their value without accelerating the risk factors.
CLOUD ADOPTION STRATEGY-You have to know that most of the cloud projects are usually complex but no matter how long it takes for the enterprises to develop the required skillset and functions, they must improve productivity and lead the organization to maturity. The benchmarks in the same, carefully plan essential effort in order to improvise their cloud production technology by focusing on video streams of work across the levels of maturity.
ESTABLISHING MULTI CLOUD MANAGEMENT PRACTICES- It gets challenging to govern cloud computing services when a single provider is involved and it gets worse when the organization deliberately moves to a multi-cloud environment. Cloud services providers offer self-service and on-demand resources along with endless efficiencies to make it difficult for the organizations to have an insight with visibility and manage the resources. Hence, the organizations only have to monitor the consumption of cloud services by the provider and consumption across the cloud service providers. Without any visibility, it will become impossible to manage the cloud environment.
DEVELOPING A MULTI CLOUD MANAGEMENT STRATEGY-The enterprises can easily develop a multi-cloud management tool and strategy by adopting and selecting essential management solutions. For this, you can develop a coherent cloud management strategy that requires a systematic approach or well-defined tools to meet objectives. Your only target should be to minimize the tool requirement for fulfilling all the cloud management services requirements. You can also try a combined solutions-based approach upon the requirement of cross-platform consistency or platform-specific functioning. In any case, you should prioritize using the native toolset of your cloud-based environment and deploy it accordingly. It is equally evident in sap custom development.
EVALUATING MULTI CLOUD INTEGRATION REQUIREMENTS- By evaluating requirements, the platforms can present potential services for extending or integrating infrastructure-based solutions. The organizations can also get a potential return from their existing infrastructure (SaaS) services by shifting a few applications and integrating them rather than using other infrastructure that can cost them more. It is important to continuously evaluate the requirements and compare them with other solutions.
Things required to create a successful cloud management strategy
There are many practices considered by successful cloud computing services providers that guarantee a reliable marketplace for their solutions. This involves-
Anticipating market movements
Creating essential plans to move forward
Execute the plans accordingly
In the big picture, it is extremely important to have the right tools in place if you are focusing on developing cloud management strategies to their best. Let’s follow through the below mentioned actionable strategies through which you can improve the competitiveness and profitability of the platform even if it is a non-technical business unit.
CHOOSING THE CLOUD DEPLOYMENT MODEL- In order to build an essential cloud management strategy, it is important to determine the deployment model (whether or not it is within the organization). In order to leverage cloud computing services, you have to carefully choose the cloud deployment models and the easiest way to get it done is to entail the systems and your requirements.
Public models are highly elastic and they are on-demand
Private models have the infrastructure more than build to suit
Hybrid models keep all the critical cloud workloads local
Community-based models have a resource pooling across the individual assets
CHOOSING THE ACCURATE CLOUD SERVICE-Once you have decided the cloud deployment model that fits your organization requirements, now is the time to choose the reliable services. There are three options-
Information as a service (IaaS)- This service has direct control over all the application configurations
Platform as a service (PaaS)- This Cloud service has essential application development and testing strategies that can easily roll-out the cloud environment. Moreover, it also supports the agile programming iteration. It is equally evident across various software development services
Software as a service (SaaS)- The solutions can easily be updated by the vendor through automation
ALIGN AND PRIORITISE THE CLOUD INITIATIVES- As soon as you understand the cloud deployment and service model, you have to prioritize its initiatives.
IDENTIFYING TARGET DEPARTMENTS-Start identifying the essential departments of your platform, for example, sales, finance, marketing, HR, etc.
OUTLINING THE SERVICES- For every department’s requirements, you have to break the IT services model that can support each one of them along with their business requirements efficiently. For example, customer relationship management, email, enterprise resource planning, websites, etc.
HIGHLIGHTS- You have to understand the color-coding in order to indicate which services you have prioritized in advance. This can include cloud as well as sap software development. This will also help you identify critical business activities and separate them accordingly.
ANALYZE YOUR NEXT MOVE- Now you have to select the essential IT services that can suit your cloud management strategies most.
ASSESSING THE CLOUD SERVICES- You can evaluate the advantages of moving your solutions to the cloud. This can be done by various qualitative as well as quantitative criteria like improving operational efficiency, agility, cost savings, staff sourcing, and a lot more.
For every identification, you can get another for the below-mentioned questions:
Does the service offer adequate opportunities for your organization to become operationally agile?
Is there any cost-saving opportunity that you can obtain from the cloud integration services?
What impact cloud adoption will have on your staff sourcing?
What will be the improvement status on your business efficiencies?
Understanding cloud strategy and determining the success of its elements
Prior to beginning with Cloud migration or sap software development, it is important to determine if you are just following a herd or you have a valid justification for adopting cloud strategies. In today’s world, cloud services are the major driving force behind the technical innovations that users are demanding. it is crucial that the enterprises have a coherent strategy that can fulfill the business requirements, especially with speed and agility, along with balancing compliance framework with it. In the big picture, it eliminates the risk and exposure to all the vulnerabilities and ensures light governance with the solutions.
Cloud management strategy is a tough place to define which ultimately means keeping up with the balance. The organizations are actively balancing user requirements along with cost security, compliance, faster delivery times, standard processes, etc.
Be specific with your business objective from the beginning, especially with speed to market and business agility. As soon as we have determined your business objective, they are key aspects of building cloud management strategies. if you accomplish the below-mentioned strategies for your cloud deployment, then it will represent your platform as a whole. With the help of cloud-managed services and big data solutions, the enterprises can easily adopt a multi-cloud strategy and evaluate their platform requirements. A pragmatic sap custom development and cloud-based strategy always work at its best, especially in specific landscape and requirements. it is also important to have the right infrastructure and tools in place to keep your resources aligned. The essential attributes are mentioned below-
SOFTWARE AS A SERVICE (SaaS)
Most of the cloud solutions usually start with engaging the users more than any other solution. This is not because of the SaaS reference but it can also innovate faster and respond to the latest trends with absolute ease. Make sure you get adequate innovation cycles annually and your requirements to adopt the cloud are precise. The elimination of these cycles represents the complexity of solutions that cannot be managed efficiently.
PLATFORM AS A SERVICE (PaaS)
No application or software development services can perform better without a suitable strategy. In reference to cloud solutions, it is extremely crucial to have the essential tools in order to extend the configuration. It also facilitates multi-tenancy and overcomes the hurdles in adjacent segments in the cloud. It is essential to have an innovative solution that can enable your cloud ecosystem to adapt accordingly and create addons to develop new products.
As the requirement of adopting cloud-based solutions increases it is also posing a risk for the organizations. it is also evident that not every platform can have the luxury of running semantic data architecture across various instances. Hence it is important to note that the notion of delivering cloud-integrated solutions can reduce the burden of the enterprises. The sap software development can also fulfill the requirement of a consistent approach for problem resolution.
Cloud integration involves an array of tasks like reporting, error handling, consistent diagnosis, error tracking, etc.
INFRASTRUCTURE AS A SERVICE (IaaS)
The cloud offerings must be based on a rock-solid cloud infrastructure and it should be capable of handling and supporting multiple cloud-based environments. IaaS enables cloud solutions and transfers the recent applications in cloud computing along with having a space of innovation.
ADDRESSING POTENTIAL RISK OF CLOUD
Now is the time to move into a technical face in order to build a successful account management strategy. If your enterprise lacks a dedicated IT team then it is important to find third party integration for vendors that will help you navigate through the technical barriers.
You have to review the following areas:
Security and compliance- Data is indeed a critical resource and in cloud devices, it is entrusted with third party shares. Regulatory security compliance requires visibility in data storage and access.
Availability and reliability- You have to make sure that your cloud solutions are reliable and you can take into account their planning and ensuring process management.
Data integration- Data integration ensures that the infrastructure for applications maintains the connections with their interdependencies.
IMPLEMENTING CLOUD STRATEGY
The cloud strategies are mostly unique and their implementation can get really long if you are not aware of the details. The variation of the cloud is based on the organization size and number of services that are required to migrate to the cloud. You also have to explore the variables and implement a successful cloud-based strategy.
Transparent road map- You have to define the cloud migration milestones of your platform with proper timelines in order to fulfill each one of them
Competitive edge- It is essential to enhance the best practices along with accelerating the use of adoption and relieving pressure from your dedicated team.
IT support- Every sap software development and cloud-based service requires ongoing support and with the help of suitable technology, you can take advantage of your deployed solutions.
When it comes down to business development, it is essentially an ever-changing route.
Even though this has been quite evident, the different twists and turns of current times have easily baffled even the most intelligent and experienced entrepreneurs and marketers. From what every person can easily observe, one needs much more than mere creativity.
Basically, creativity yields ideas. However, they are merely stuck in quite a theoretical plan in case they aren’t executed properly. Hence, audience segmentation, artificial intelligence, multimedia-based audio and visual marketing and different other methods have captured almost all of the web development services.
Irrespective of how impactful all of these trends are, basically, they are inseparably connected to a much larger concept of big data. Most of the prominent and influential companies actually base their own business model on the big data and use it in order to achieve the best possible results while employing minimum workforce, mistakes and finances.
Here, we focus on the concept of big data and assist you in understanding the importance of it and we will be dissecting the term as well as analyse why it needs to be embedded deeper into your own business strategy.
When it comes to defining big data, its most basic and literal form refers to a large amount of information. In order for information to be considered to be big data, it has to come from at least two or more separate sources. Anything can easily be big data and can readily come in different forms. Browsing history, satellite imaging, credit records, etc. all these things can easily be tracked and even stored. Owing to the recent controversies as well as data leakages, it might even seem scary. However, there is nothing to be afraid of. Collected big data can lead to creating mini behaviour profiles of the customers all over the Internet irrespective of the website. Essentially, the purpose of these profiles can easily be a wide range of things.
Also, improving customer support, better efficiency on websites and better ad placement along with more are all possible due to the current existence of the big data and big data solutions. In order to understand it completely, you need to know how can you easily gather this big data.
Essentially, big data can easily be gathered in various ways. There are three ways to do so. They are:
Asking the users directly using a lead or opt-in form for permission.
Among the three ways used, this particular one is quite outdated. However, EU-imposed regulations have again imposed the businesses to include it in their own terms and conditions along with privacy policies.
Utilizing tracking software
At present, there are a multitude of apps as well as software which can track the smartphones and computers of the users. With it, companies can easily gather big data corresponding to users’ browsing habits as well as other details. Also, through tracking software, an e-commerce website can easily see that you have actually spent just 30 seconds browsing their own sneaker section. Cloud computing services should employ applications to track user behaviour.
Utilizing cookie is most probably the most popular and familiar method to anyone. Owing to different breaches in recent times, EU countries have actually made their entire content-related laws a lot stricter. Due to this, a business that wishes to allow EU citizens to browse the pages need to notify the user about the usage of these cookies. Also, a notification can appear in different forms, generally through the classic “I Agree” button or a complicated and unconventional one.
In case you choose to use big data as an essential part of your own business plan, then you can easily incorporate all of the three wats of data gathering. Now, it is time to discuss in deep about the different methods of easily growing your business with big data.
Improvement of Customer Profiles through Big Data
Among all of the methods of use, the improvement of existing customer information remains to be the most essential as well as the most straightforward one. Data analytics is the most crucial aspect of every business plan since it gives a basis to each and every action. Also, the more information you have, it is much less likely that you make a mistake and to focus your efforts on the wrong customer groups.
Essentially, a typical customer profile contains information such as name, location, emails sent and purchasing history. With the assistance of big data, you can easily find out much more. Addition of cookies to your website may even allow you to easily collect big data in a different form.
The device used by Customer
With this relevant information, you can easily adjust the page format for their smartphone or even tablet model. Also, adjusting for mobile is quite important, but not every OS and model are the same. A SaaS development company needs to make its application compatible for such adjustments.
Average time spent by a user on the page
If you are posting videos or blogs, then big data can easily allow you to view where things can easily go wrong. Why did a particular customer just watch a few seconds of the videos? Why did the customers only spend a few seconds on a given page? Such questions can be great assistance of improving the entire customer experience if they are answered utilizing big data.
Basically, big data allows you to find out the average browsing behaviour or habits of the customers. Also, a large section of experts suggests that browsing behaviours are the crucial piece of information that a marketer should know.
Whenever utilizing big data, you can easily pinpoint the actual time people spend online. Such a revelation can easily assist you to post the right things at the best time. Knowing this additional information about the customers can lead to much better and deeper analytics.
Generally, big data is just considered as categorizing as well as collecting textual data, but basically, it is much more than it appears. Companies are now using big data to strengthen their own call centre’s functioning. Instead of settling on simple level information, they are now orienting themselves in the direction of sentiment analysis.Cloud infrastructure solutions need to incorporate this as their feature.
In the case of sentiment analysis, it is directly connected to AI or artificial intelligence. By means of collecting voice recordings of the conversations of employees with customers, these companies are now analysing the details of the voices of their customers. AI programs can easily harness vital information about emotions, voice pitch, as well as voice tone. In case you have a call centre for your business, you can easily use this heads-up information.
Any business can be considered profitable in case it makes advances. Essentially a good advance as per people in the industry actually revolves around reducing the time as well as effort duly spent. But, a truly exceptional advance in case of business success is increasing the overall profit as well as the general success of the company. In this regard, big data can assist you in achieving that.
With the minimum amount of effort invested, you can easily watch the data getting collected. Whenever it is time to take any action, you will be duly ready.
Also, rolling out campaigns is performed much more smoothly with the assistance of big data. Knowing enough about your customers will assist you in focusing the marketing as well as the products. Also, the greatest changes can be seen in PPC campaigns.
Of course, the money is allocated efficiently through this without any major risk of wrong users clicking on the ads. Even when you manage to attract new customers, the big data can assist you in retaining them.
Attraction and Retention
Bu means of improving the marketing campaigns, and big data has reflected that it can easily attract new customers. A lot of business owners focus on this, while at the same time, they are basically losing customers by simply not listening to them. In this regard, big data can assist you in reading the online sentiment pertaining to your product as well as the brand. Most of the people have the habit of talking about the products and services they have essentially used. Knowing the public consensus will certainly aid you in better understanding of the customer.
The Internet can be a massive echo chamber, but big data can still help you explore and understand its mysteries. Having a better and clear insight into public opinion regarding your company is one of the ways to perform it. Essentially, the knowledge that you acquire will assist you in preventing problems before they appear or worsen. Also, you can easily highlight what works and even make different things easier for you, your team and business.Big data development services can assist you in this regard.
Disregarding the popular belief, an efficient system is quite important. Due to the overwhelming use of AI and different other programs in the world, this statement might not bode well for some.
Big data actually highlights the importance of the system’s efficiency by doing most of the work for the team. Owing to large analytical data being collected, one doesn’t have to utilize valuable resources to estimate. Each decision will certainly take lesser time to be executed.
Utilizing big data allows you to focus on the different tasks which can’t be easily automated. Also, the creativity of you, as well as your team alike, can be allocated to different things which matter—improved energy allocation results in business growth.
A growing business is undoubtedly a great joy for your company and a huge envy for your competitors. However, there is the other side of the coin. When a business scales up, previously stated purposes and benchmarks become irrelevant. The components of the business strategy (including IT roadmap) need to be revised and changed to suit the new business situation.
There is no universal way to build a 100%-efficient IT plan, especially in a dynamic business environment, but there are several common aspects that growing companies should keep in mind when developing an IT strategy.
Business processes rely on huge volumes of diverse data: communication with customers and business partners, financial records, employee details, internal documents, customers’ purchasing behavior and more. The more your business grows, the harder it is to ensure that corporate IT solutions work together and their functionality is sufficient to cover internal IT needs.
Spreading to new locations is a sound intention of any ambitious business. Today, globalization makes it much easier than it was decades ago. Yet, geographical expansion entails the necessity to revise and change a company’s internal operations, including those related to IT. New offices must be integrated with the corporate network. IT support is likely to become 24/7 if it’s not yet.
New products and services
Diversifying products and services is a serious step forward. Still, it inevitably drives the need to revise your IT strategy. For example, a company will need to modify internal databases, update the channels for customer interaction (add functionality to customer websites and apps) and resort to new effective IT tools for marketing and online sales, as well as diversify the methods for collecting information about customer tastes and preferences.
Mergers and acquisitions
Enterprises often buy other companies to enter a new market, get competitive advantages or broaden the range of products and services. Growing companies also merge to join forces. But joining organizations often use different IT solutions, which must be integrated and tuned to fit new common business objectives.
IT leaders’ stumbling blocks
When you know about potential difficulties connected to business growth, it may seem that IT strategy development is quite simple: a company outlines the goals for business development and implements appropriate IT solutions to support these goals. However, the real situation is more complicated due to a number of circumstances.
Lack of time to prepare for the changes
A strategy is developed in advance to achieve certain objectives. However, a growing business uncorks surprises at every step, and business leaders often have to modify their goals and priorities on the fly. The same is expected from IT leadership: they should react promptly and adapt to changes quickly. A serious hurdle: winning decisions are not always on the surface, and it takes time to get them and develop into digestible ideas.
Potential and real changes always lead to a certain level of uncertainty (or, better to say, an uncertain level of uncertainty). You cannot predict how exactly new products will behave on the market, how the customer will react to them, and what your competitors will do. You can hardly avoid at least some degree of chaos. The purpose here is to identify it and minimize its influence on business processes if possible.
Resistance to change
An IT strategy for a growing business should be a bit ahead of the times. It supports the current state of affairs and at the same time allows IT leaders to look into the future to some degree. But it may be difficult for IT teams in non-IT industries to follow latest tendencies. Some leaders (both business and IT) are even eager to focus on current operations and get really stuck to their IT strategies.
There is some sense in this approach: why should I change anything if it works as is? Why invest additional effort and money in unpredictable things? This approach might work with a little luck. But following it, companies ignore the options of development and run the risk of floundering an outdated IT agenda. Growth and changes can be painful, but nothing is more painful than staying stuck to the agenda that doesn’t work anymore or gives you only a half of possible benefits and, to some extent, retains business growth.
Key areas for IT leaders
The role of IT leadership is to help the organization maximize its competitive advantage with an effective IT strategy that supports or even creates that advantage.
Focus on strong sides
A good strategy is based on your business strengths and those aspects where you can get the most benefits. Therefore, it is crucial to understand the strong sides of your business and give them additional digital support (instead of improving weaknesses).
Find new opportunities and threats
As your business grows, you are likely to uncover new opportunities. At the same time, it’s important to be aware of the potential risks that come with new activities and take necessary steps to protect your business.
Enterprises are getting overloaded with data from various sources: customer service points, operational & transactional systems, media and more. A growing company can employ big data analytics to get meaningful insights from these data: to monitor market tendencies, understand competitor strategies, identify early signs of potential problems and reduce risks.
You may get new valuable ideas with IT consulting services. Of course, you cannot completely rely on the opinion of IT consultants as they don’t know the full picture of your business. However, they can share their experience and prompt to find priceless solutions to your corporate pains.
In a fast-growing business, decisions may throw the company in different directions. Many ad hoc decisions are taken, many ideas appear to be not so profitable as it was expected and remain unsupported. All that leaves IT components in a chaotic state and reduces their effectiveness.
IT infrastructure never becomes organized without intervention. Entropy management aims at small corrections to keep IT components on track rather than letting things run on their own until there is a much larger breakdown or problem. Enterprise architecture should possess a certain degree of flexibility to be ready for the changes when they are needed.
Align IT and business
A good IT strategy is developed to support a business strategy. This approach assumes that business goals are stated before it comes to serious IT planning. However, in a growing enterprise, top management is likely to modify business goals to jump at new opportunities or abandon unproductive approaches.
When a business scales up, it’s important to be sure that the IT solutions keep up with business goals and modify the IT strategy if there are any discrepancies. Otherwise, there is a risk that IT leaves behind the business, and IT and business strategies become misaligned. It makes an IT roadmap less effective (if not harmful).
Be flexible in choosing vendors
A growing business may be interested in new IT solutions to effectively cover the increasing volume of internal operations (if legacy systems don’t cope with the task), provide digital support for new internal processes, enable better and faster services and more. Even if a company develops in-house or has an established chain of tried-and-true IT vendors, it can benefit a lot from new IT partnerships. The focus should be on selecting reliable software providers and minimizing the risks of new cooperation.
Collaboration with existing vendors may also change a lot when they offer new cooperation options, start doing more on their side or get integrated into the design process.
It’s important to evaluate what various vendors can offer and choose the best matches in terms of quality, time and costs of delivery.
Once you have a competitive product or service and sell it at a reasonable price, the next thing that matters to your ecommerce business success is the customer experience provided. Website design is its vital part as customers interact with your company via the website and often don’t set the two apart. Therefore, a digital experience designed on the website equals your company’s image in the minds of your customers.
More reasons why website design is worth taking seriously
The role of design goes far beyond the website look. Professionally designed, your online store obtains:
Branding strength. A website is your opportunity to tell customers how your company positions itself on the market and what values or social views it supports.
Enhanced website usability. Design always starts with the UX part to plan each type of customer interaction within the website. What you win is minimized user efforts whenever is possible and increased meaningful engagement with the site content.
Technical excellence. Modern websites are responsive to render well on different screen sizes and provide for convenient viewing and shopping experience across devices. Also, they are mostly designed with SEO purposes in mind to support your customer acquisition plans down the road.
Technology advances. When reasonable, your website design is planned with the latest technologies and approaches in mind (like AR or on-site personalization). Since not all are worth adopting for your business, you should have the ROI of each technology integration estimated to opt for the most rewarding ones.
Different conversion funnels planned. A classic conversion path leads customers from product discovery directly to online buy. But customers don’t always behave as you expect, so professional web designers plan and map on the website more complicated journeys with half-way conversion points such as:
Upsells and cross-sells.
Design elements to add to core ecommerce pages
An ecommerce website may house any number of SKUs and generate any traffic volume – disregarding the size, it always has several typical page types to design.
Homepage. As the most frequent landing page in ecommerce, the homepage pursues a fundamental goal – to entice customers to start a shopping journey. Hence, design elements must:
Establish a brand identity: brand message, mission statements, trust builders.
Provide for easy navigation: a properly organized product menu, shortcuts to products with the highest selling potential.
Trigger immediate interest: promotions and deals, customer service perks.
Catalog page. On a catalog page, you don’t only showcase your products – you start selling them. To prompt customers to product discovery, you should:
Help customers find the products of interest: product filtering.
Give a quick view possibility.
Instill product quality: a summarized product rating, a number of product reviews.
Offer alternatives of further actions: add to shopping cart or wish list, save for later.
Product page. Customers are already interested in your product. It’s high time to take the stress out of the decision-making process and:
Give comprehensive product information: product description, assembly tutorials, user guides.
Be illustrative: product images, videos, demos.
Help to select the right product configuration: a size chart, a size guide, product builders.
Enhance product credibility: product reviews, social media tags, product labels (‘bestseller’, ‘influencer’s choice’).
Advertise similar products: cross-sells.
Offer personal assistance with the product choice: live chat.
Shopping cart. This page is an intermediate step between a customer’s buying intention and an actual buy. Planning its design, remember to:
Give a summary of selected products: quantity, parameters, price.
Outline delivery options and costs.
Allow customers to edit the order.
Offer complementary products: upsells.
Checkout. The best practices in checkout design dictate to:
Ask for account registration and give an opportunity of guest checkout alike.
Simplify fill-in forms not to demand much of a customer’s time.
Offer several payment options.
Give estimated delivery time depending on the delivery option selected.
Inform customers about what happens next: you send an email with confirmation details, customers can track the order progress in their personal account.
Non-catalog content page. Your content marketing strategy may require diverse content types: a blog, lookbooks, tutorials, deep product dives, interviews, etc. Though designed differently, they all bring you customer engagement and even impulse conversions if you:
Softly sell your expertise or product value.
Openly advertise relevant products that fit the information you share.
Check the correlation between sales and website design
It often happens that an ecommerce company follows general design recommendations and invests a lot in customer acquisition marketing, but the conversion rate remains low. So, here is a very important question to answer before giving way to redesign hassle: ‘Does my design hinders sales?’
Given the abundance of interactions throughout a customer life cycle, ways to frustrate customers with poor experience are numerous too – from a consistent shortage of their favorite products to delays in order delivery. In both cases, customers will end up with a competing company. If you suspect design issues, there are several ways to confirm whether they directly impact your sales volume.
Investigate web analytics. If the analysis shows high traffic generated by your SEO efforts and marketing activities, yet a high bounce rate and short dwell time not ending with conversions at any of your planned points, the digital user experience is obviously flawed. Your website design doesn’t inspire trust, and its usability is begging for improvement.
Request an independent design audit. While UI design is largely a matter of subjective opinion, the UX part can be expertly assessed by designers. Upon audit completion, you get a report with UX flaws uncovered and can make a redesign decision deliberately.
Assess your website experience against web design trends. As for digital user experience and beyond, ecommerce has become truly customer-centric. In website design, trends demand enjoyable experience tailored and convenient for diverse customer groups. Your customers don’t lower their expectations and want from you the same design excellence.
Where to focus your redesign efforts
Even if you are not up for large investments into full website redesign now, you may apply improvements to certain aspects that won’t go unnoticed by your customers. Here are shortlisted best practices for ecommerce web design.
Use quality product images, zoom-in, videos, 360-degree views, 3D models.
Take after a real-life shopping experience with augmented reality.
Ensure elaborate navigation, filtering and search experience.
Go for clean and spacious UI with a light background, which resonates with a larger audience.
Add on-site personalization to serve customers relevant content, promotions and product recommendations.
Make the website responsive to various screen sizes.
Don’t break design consistency across the website.
Avoid visual clutter.
Ecommerce design examples for inspiration
Each product and service line in ecommerce bears its design specifics – some spark designers’ creativity while some demand for a minimalist approach.
Not only a product line, but your business model also impacts the digital experience to design on a website. Study the highlights of B2C and B2B website design rules below illustrated with interactive demos created by ScienceSoft’s team. Don’t miss to play them in the first place!
B2C website design – bet big on convenience and personalization
Personalize website content, promotions and recommended products for customer segments and individuals.
Encourage impulse buys with content marketing, upsells and cross-sells.
Facilitate a customer’s search across the website.
Offer guest checkout.
B2B website design – bet big on trust and loyalty-building
Integrate custom pricing and automated discounting depending on order volume.
Add a possibility of shipment to multiple addresses.