Whether your small business serves retail customers or other businesses, you are only successful in the eyes of your customers if you can meet their expectations of success - not your parameters. As a small business, it is critical, then, to understand what it is your customers expect as an outcome and then have a plan in place for ensuring you can deliver to their expectations. Because technology is one of the primary tools small businesses leverage in order to achieve the results their customers expect, having a comprehensive IT plan and proactive IT infrastructure is crucial to the success of your business.
In a recent blog post, IT Infrastructure Investment: Why Things Don’t Work Out of the Box, I talked about my experience with upgrading my home Internet service; it definitely did not work right out of the box as I'd expected it would. The company in question offered a promise of faster, cheaper service. That was their end result; my expectation, however, was that this faster, cheaper service would work without me having to make a lot of adjustments to my existing infrastructure. The company delivered to their expectaion, but not to mine. And in the end, what matters is meeting - and exceeding - the customer's expectations. No matter what industry you are in, your customer won’t care how you made it happen; they will only care whether or not you have delivered to their expectations.
A big component of being able to meet an exceed your customers’ expectations is by having the IT infrastructure you need to deliver those services, whether a suitable IT infrastructure allows you to maintain your service or delivery schedule, allows you to provide impeccable customer service without frustrating wait times, or provides you with the data security and disaster recovery services you need to maintain your customers' confidence.
Like the company that sold me my home Internet service, many companies are not focused on the result, or at least they have a different definition of what results should look like than their customers have. The company in question felt they’d achieved results by delivering Internet to my home; results for me meant that everything worked the way it did before the switch without a lot of effort on my part.
If your business uses technology to drive your business and your productivity in order to obtain the most revenue from the fewest employees, your IT infrastructure is critical. As a small business, how do you ensure that you have the IT infrastructure you need to deliver the results you must have to stay competitive?
Technology should not be implemented for its own sake. Your IT infrastructure should be comprehensively designed and leveraged to meet the goals of your business so that you can efficiently meet and exceed your customers' expectations every time. Unless you invest enough money in supporting IT to develop your infrastructure in a way that is truly proactive, you cannot get the results you’re looking for. It is generally not cost effective for a small business to build all of the elements of an in-house IT staff (centralized services, reactive support, CIO, network admin, etc); you cannot piece it together ingredient by ingredient merely by investing in monitoring services, backup serves, security and other independent components; The way to achieve results that impact your ability to deliver results to your customers is to invest in a comprehensive IT infrastructure and plan.
A comprehensive and proactive IT plan is crucial to delivering results to your customers
It is important that you understand the expectations your customers have that define success
Investing in a comprehensive IT infrastructure offers a measurable return on your investment in terms of customer satisfaction, retention and loyalty