Technology is constantly evolving and pushing small business to change and embrace the enhanced capabilities it can deliver. If you had asked someone ten years ago to imagine a world where they could run all of their errands – grocery shopping, trip planning, banking – completely by themselves with no other face-to-face contact, they would have been in disbelief. Today it’s no news that smartphones are taking over the need to step out of the house, with more and more ways to do business at our fingertips.
Just less than a week ago, the Bank of Montreal (BMO) announced that for the first time ever, customers are now able to open a new banking account from the comfort of their smartphones, eliminating the need to travel to a BMO branch to do so. Other than some obvious security concerns that come with the new system (willing users must submit their Social Insurance Number through the mobile form for the bank to verify their identity), the elimination of another face-to-face service might seem frustrating for small business owners trying to keep track of our ever-evolving technological world. In another area of the financial sector, credit unions have built their businesses around high touch relationships with their members. For these organizations who have only recently started looking at ways to bring technology to their customers as a way of connecting with and better serving the smartphone generation, these advances seem light years ahead.
So what should small businesses do? Embrace change, but don’t give in completely.
1) As large enterprises continue to place great importance on making their services ultra-convenient for customers, your clients will start to expect the same. This is easy to accommodate when it comes to things like payment, since money transfers and direct deposit banking have become the norm, but you may need to put your foot down when it comes to meetings. As convenient as it is to hold Skype or telephone meetings with your clients or colleagues, meeting face-to-face creates meaningful relationships, something that small businesses are built on.
2) As new technologies and ways of using them emerge, businesses are expected to be in the know. Take Snapchat for example. While it may not make sense for your company to have its own account that spotlights the daily goings-on in the office, investing in Snapchat’s new in-app ads, custom geo-filters or sponsored lenses may be beneficial to you, depending on the demographics of your target market.
3) Always brainstorm new and innovative ways to deliver your products or services. Even if your ideas don’t come to fruition, your creativity gets a workout. BMO was in the news this week; you could be next.
Ask yourself this: Are you the big bank, or the credit union? Will you be on the forefront of every new technology, constantly changing the way your consumers use your product or service, or will you build your business through traditional, relationship centred methods? Knowing which way to go and how far is all about knowing what it will mean for your company. Fear not the death of face-to-face service and hard copy content, find ways to embrace the change and create a balance that works for you.