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Digitalisation is not (just) about new, smart tools – but about connecting them

The possibilities of digitalisation are endless. Many are underway, but for new digital tools to lead to better experiences for both customers and employees, the approaches need to be connected and integrated, Salesforce concludes in a new report.

Article published in association with Salesforce

The old recipe for doing business has gone out the window. Remote working, digital first and sky-high customer expectations have become the norm, calling for a new recipe. And according to Salesforce’s new report “The Connected Small Business”, the new recipe is all about creating a closer connection between company departments and processes.

“Today, small businesses need to be agile, resilient and meet their customers on any platform, anywhere, anytime. This requires not just a 360-degree view of the customer; it requires being able to leverage data to empower employees and make business-critical decisions,” Salesforce writes in the report.
Customers today expect sublime service regardless of the size of the company with which they interact. This places towering demands on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Fortunately, the tools to meet them have never been more available. But they need to be connected so that the sum of digitisation measures is greater than the individual parts.

Fact: Customers expect more

  • 76% of customers expect consistent interaction across departments
    52% of customers describe service interaction as fragmented
  • 82% of customers believe the experience with the company is as important as the product or service.
  • 91% of customers believe there is a moderate or high need for companies to improve their service and support

Source: Salesforce, The Connected Customer Report

Data needs to break out of the silo

SMEs are already embracing digitalisation in a big way to work smarter and more efficiently. But unlocking the full business potential also requires a more connected enterprise. The smart, new solutions can’t stand alone.

“To meet new high demands from customers, SMEs need to provide a personalised experience. To succeed, they need to have visibility into all customer interactions across departments. That means access to the right data at the right time to understand customers’ unique pain points so they can interact empathetically,” Salesforce writes in the report.

Eighty percent of teams collaborate across departments, and the average team wastes 20 hours a month due to siloed tools and processes that don’t work across departments. In other words, there is a great need for better integration and more automation.

Fact: Empathy is key

  • 68% of customers expect companies to show empathy, but only 37% feel that companies generally do.
  • 66% of customers expect brands to understand their unique needs and expectations, but only 34% feel that companies treat them as individuals.

Source: Salesforce, The Connected Customer Report

“Nine in ten IT leaders rate data stored away in silos as a challenge for the business. It’s costing SMEs money, whose most valuable resources are not only being wasted, but can actually negatively impact productivity by driving up IT and payroll costs – while leading to poor experiences for both employees and customers,” Salesforce writes in the report.

In the report, Salesforce points to a number of important steps to connect company departments through better and less fragmented data – specifically, a so-called ‘Single Source of Truth’ that unifies data across the organization, making it easier to satisfy customers while increasing efficiency and job satisfaction.

The raw materials are already available

Digitalisation is necessary to compete in the future, but the ocean of opportunity in this area can be overwhelming for most SMEs. But with the challenge also comes huge potential.

Many times the necessary data is already present in the company, but it requires new connections between company departments and tools to unlock the potential. And many organisations are struggling to turn this into reality.

“When you take all the challenges into consideration, the recipe for the future SME becomes clearer. Enable collaboration. Streamline and automate processes. Open up the silos. Unify data. Connect it all. And as more and more SMBs evolve to solve those challenges, companies that haven’t yet gotten started may need to stop asking themselves if they can afford to connect their processes – and instead ask if they can afford not to,” Salesforce writes.

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