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Future-proof Your Canadian Business By Embracing Digital Adoption

Future-proof Your Canadian Business By Embracing Digital Adoption

When companies don’t offer digital capabilities to offer a great customer experience, they face significant risk.

You don’t have to run a small and medium-sized business in Canada for long before the ideas to transform and grow using digital technologies begin to pile up.

Some of the opportunities become obvious just by looking around at the competition:

If we had a web site that was as easy to find products as this brand’s, we’d sell a lot more product, you might say to yourself.

Other approaches to digital adoption might come from your sales or marketing team members:

“We need an e-commerce platform that makes it quicker and simpler to make a purchase,” your sales manager might say.

“If we could create an e-mail marketing campaign without doing it from scratch every time, we’d convert a lot more browsers into customers,” your head of marketing might add.

Then there is the digital wish list that gets collectively curated by your customers. Either in passing or via specific feedback mechanisms like a survey, they might say:

They’d be more likely to make repeat purchases if they could easily track their orders via a mobile app.

They are tired of waiting on hold to speak to someone for support, and would appreciate a chatbot option instead.

If you already know them and their preferences, why not make smart, relevant suggestions for their next purchase the next time they visit your web site?

What It Means to Future-Proof Your Business

It’s easy to put off these kinds of opportunities, assuming that you’ll reach a point later on when making investments in digital technologies is no longer an option.

The truth is, that day already arrived a long time ago. When companies don’t offer digital capabilities to offer a great customer experience, they face significant risk.

First, there’s the risk you’ll lose customers who decide to give their business to a more digitally-savvy brand instead.

Second, you’ll risk those customers telling their family and friends, jeopardizing your ability to attract new customers.

Third – and by no means least – you risk frustrating employees who want the company to succeed and want the digital tools to help them do so.

Even if it doesn’t feel like those risks are imminent to your particular business, making the right investments now is a way to ensure you avoid being caught off guard when they arise.

This is known as “future-proofing” your business, because you’re essentially taking steps today to help your business to adapt to the changes and needs of tomorrow.

Overcoming the Barriers to Future-Proofing Your Business

Even SMBs who have a good idea of how best to future-proof their business might feel they’re unable to act as quickly as they would like.

There can be concerns, for example, about a lack of in-house technical expertise required to adopt digital technologies successfully.

This is followed closely by worries about the time it will take to deploy tools that lead to a better digital experience, and what kind of resources will be required over the long term.

And of course, almost all SMBs have to think about their budget and what they can reasonably afford to do amid challenging economic conditions.

Earlier this year Canada’s federal government addressed these roadblocks to future-proofing businesses with the launch of the Canada Digital Adoption Program (CDAP).

Designed specifically with SMBs in mind, CDAP will provide $4 billion over four years, supporting up to 160,000 small businesses in enhancing their online experience and use of digital technologies.

CDAP will provide more than funding, however. Micro-grants and loans are complemented by advisory services that include experts in commerce who can map out your strategy, whether it’s setting up your first digital storefront or making better use of customer data across digital channels.

SMBs who are interested can use a CDAP online assessment tool to determine which application stream — Grow Your Business Online or Boost your Business Technology – would best suit their needs.

Best Practices in Future-Proofing Your Business

Applying for CDAP could pave the way for a powerful transformation within your business. In order to make the most of this opportunity, keep a few of these best practices in mind:

1. Gather Insight and Data to Inform Goal-Setting: Think back to the hypothetical examples of digital ideas that were mentioned at the beginning of this post. Make them real by deliberating asking your team, your partners and your customers about areas that would create value by investing in digital tools. Weave in any data you can gather about your sales, existing digital engagement and the channels where customers are most active.

2. Align Digital Investments with Key Performance Indicators (KPIs): What will success online look like for your company? For some firms, getting more inbound activity will take the pressure of the sales team. Others will look at more specific revenue targets they need to meet, and look for digital tools to help them get there faster. Still others will consider the impact of improving service interactions to reduce customer churn and increase loyalty. Find the right mix of metrics that make sense as you deploy digital technologies.

3. Pilot and A/B Test in Order To Continuously Improve: You don’t have to revamp your web site all at once, or introduce new tools to your entire customer base. Start small so you and your team can gain more experience with the tools. Then, apply your metrics to see what’s making the most significant difference in your business results. You’ll soon see where you might need to change course or double-down on your strategy.

Future-proofing your business is not really a one-time exercise. It’s an ongoing effort that the most successful companies have mastered. Even as you mature in your use of digital tools, the tools are going to keep getting better, so use CDAP and your strategic plan to continuously improve your entire customer experience.

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