What is the difference between digitization and digital transformation? Digitization brings offline business practices and processes online. For example, direct mail to email, printed contracts to DocuSign, ledgers to Quickbooks, etc. are all practices that move from traditional to digitized. Paper-based systems are tedious and force business owners to spend way too much time organizing and solving problems with no clear answer at the end. With a digital transformation, you can make data-driven decisions and rely on software to provide speedy results.
SUGGESTED READING: The Consequences of Not Digitizing Your Business
Digital transformation is the way in which technology fundamentally changes how people and businesses interact with one another. When you integrate technology into your business processes, it eliminates guesswork and you can ultimately provide a superior customer experience. Since digital transformation has become the “new norm”, the customer journey has evolved. Let’s take a look at its evolution.
The Evolution of the Customer Journey
It wasn’t long ago that the customer journey was quite simple. The biggest change in driving the customer journey has been software and digital tools. In the past, consumers followed a very specific path or thought process before making a buying decision. The traditional path was usually linear with no exceptions to deter off because of the lack of technology to support new paths. However, in this day and age, the customer journey must evolve in order to provide an exceptional customer experience.
The times when homeowners would search for a company in Yellow Pages are long gone. A traditional customer journey began with a homeowner searching for a company in Yellow Pages or being referred to a business by a friend. Then they’d make a phone call right away to inquire about services. Nowadays, there are significantly more touchpoints and interactions with a business before an inquiry is made.
With 73% of customer engagements happening off a business’ website, there are far more channels for customers to interact with. Let’s walk through some different paths a customer can take.
Customer Path 1
Bill is a homeowner looking for a window replacement. First he searches Google for window replacements near his city. As he’s doing research, he notices a Google Ad for a window replacement. He decides to search that company and check their online reviews. After reading about the 4.7 star rated business, he browses their website to make sure the company serves his area and offers the proper services that he needs. Then he finally fills out a “Contact Us” form so that he can receive a quote.
- Build powerful Google Ads that lead prospects to make further actions
- Continually ask customers to leave you online reviews
Customer Path 2
Sue is a homeowner looking for an air conditioning repair. She decides to post a Facebook Recommendation, asking her friends if they know anyone trusted in the area. After receiving a few recommendations from her friends, she searches for each HVAC business on Google, leading her to visit each website. As she’s browsing one of the sites, she stumbles upon an embedded YouTube video of the business owner describing how he went into business. She jumps over to the business’ YouTube channel to watch a few videos. Before she decides to make a phone call, she checks Nextdoor to ask her neighbors if they’ve done any work with the business. Once she is done collecting her research, she decides to call the HVAC company to get a quote for air conditioning repairs.
- Embed videos onto your website
- Create relevant video content
- Maintain a presence on Nextdoor and interacting with your neighbors
Customer Path 3
Rob is a homeowner looking for his roof to be replaced within the next month. As he’s thinking about it, he decides to ask Siri, “Hey Siri, show me roofing replacement companies”. After looking at the results on his phone, he clicks the first company and is transferred to their website. As he’s scrolling through, he notices their online reviews being pulled onto their home page. He clicks the reviews and jumps over to the business’ Google My Business page. There, he sees some before and after pictures of roof replacements in the photo gallery. He sees a roof that he likes and decides to give the company a call.
- Maintain your Google My Business page
- Upload photos that prove your expertise and skill
- Embed your online reviews onto your website
Why the Customer Journey Has Transformed
Did you realize how many different actions prospects can take before making the decision to call your business? The customer journey has certainly transformed. There are so many components that small businesses need to pay attention to in order to cover all bases when it comes to prospects learning more about you.
1. Rise of online reviews
90% of consumers use the internet to find local businesses and 82% of consumers read online reviews before making decisions about a business. This proves the importance of maintaining your online reviews and continually asking your customers for feedback.
2. Importance of accuracy of business information online
In this day and age, there are so many online channels where prospects can find your business. If your business information isn’t accurate across all those channels, how will you know if you’re reachable? You wouldn’t want your Facebook page to say you are closed on weekends but then your Yelp page says you are open on Saturdays. How will prospects be able to trust you if they can’t tell which business information is accurate? Businesses need to maintain their online business information, which could be accessible on up to 100 directories.
3. Rise of voice search
According to voice search trends in the last year, 58% of consumers found local businesses using voice search. With the continual increase in the volume of people using voice search, local businesses must be optimizing their SEO for “near me” queries and answer questions everywhere. This means making sure AI-based services, like voice assistants, deliver brand-verified answers to your customers’ questions.
SUGGESTED WEBINAR: Local Business Guide to Becoming Voice Search Ready
4. Changing behaviors
Adapt to prospects’ changing behaviors. It’s important to be nimble enough to adopt new processes to meet the needs of your prospects. For example, searchers are now more likely to engage through chatbots and texts rather than phone calls and emails. It’s important to be aware of how engagement is changing so that you can always have a competitive advantage.
The Small Business Shift to SaaS Services
According to Localogy’s new MCM Report, small businesses are looking for SaaS products largely due to the challenges of acquiring and retaining customers. An important statistic to consider is 73% of small businesses that use SaaS products spend more than half their time on customer-facing activities, compared with just 29% for those who don’t. Companies who adopted technology saw way more of an opportunity to focus on their customers instead of focusing on day-to-day operations.
SaaS services have allowed businesses to spend more time with customers and improve satisfaction levels by 46%. Business owners are able to step away from their day-to-day activities to focus more on satisfying their customers when they have digital tools set in place. Businesses that leverage data and technology stay relevant, gain critical insights across the buyer’s journey, and ultimately deliver exceptional experiences.
Because technology has created so much change in the customer journey, it’s impossible to manage all of this manually and by yourself. It no longer can be done that way and will ultimately hurt your business. Small businesses must turn to digital tools for help. As technology continues to play a bigger role in everyday lives, small businesses must be willing to adopt technology to meet prospects’ new demands. The ones who are most successful can digitize and adapt on a whim.
The Surefire Local Marketing Platform makes digitizing and adapting to the new normal easy by giving you an operating system to control your online presence from anywhere with transparency into the ROI of your marketing activities.