It’s no secret that the more technology we create, the more we need robust and complex backend systems to make it work. The development of the Cloud and similar technologies has revolutionized the world by providing cheaper, more accessible and highly scalable access to data. Perhaps equally important, this revolution has helped to break down long-existing cultural and linguistic barriers by delivering globally dispersed information.
However, many people are only now realizing that these new technologies are not magical, self-sustaining objects. Although the technology we have available to us is a part of every aspect of our lives and is capable of more than ever, it is far from completely universal or infallible.
Technology still has to be monitored, maintained and yes, sometimes it breaks down. Furthermore, you still need to be able to access it. And in the world of global marketing we have to be aware of technology’s demands and shortcomings. The following are a few lessons I think everyone in the world of business and global marketing should understand so that they can make technology in its various forms work with them and not against them.
Technology Can Fail
Just recently, Southwest Airlines, a company that prides itself in reliability, had a major network disruption. This system meltdown was further exasperated when backup systems failed to engage. The outage halted ground operations for 12 hours creating a giant mess for the carrier and, most importantly, its customers. System-wide, a total of 2,300 flights were cancelled, countless others were delayed and passengers were stranded from Baltimore to Las Vegas. This widespread outage proves that not even backup systems are bullet-proof.
Big data and the Internet of Things (IoT) runs like an interstate. One bad crash can bring traffic to a dead stop. During Hurricane Sandy, I know of a company that went dark for a several days when their servers were damaged. Emails weren’t answered, projects were not delivered and customers were upset.
So much of our operations now entirely depend on technology working flawlessly. When there’s a glitch or a bump in the road, we are often at a loss for what to do. Remember the last time your Wi-Fi went down at home? Wide-spread panic!! Does your business have a robust and comprehensive disaster preparedness plan? Having such a plan in place before the worst happens can be the difference between losing clients in droves and coming out unscathed.
How about Google Translate? This phenomenon of modern global communication has done more harm than good in my humble opinion. Why? Because it fools companies into thinking that they can now market to global regions in their local language with the click of a button. Well, you can’t. As a test, I recently placed a client’s marketing content into good old GT for quick Spanish job. Being a polyglot myself, I often find these experiments entertaining. Results: the word fencing, as in your yard, was translated as fencing, the sport, and pee pad (for a pet), came out as platform for urine. Doesn’t sound that bad? Well, what if you paid a top ad agency $10k to create this content In English only to have people in Italy think you’re selling urine platforms for fencing enthusiasts.
Ease of Access Demands Rapid Response
With this technology and digital communication revolution, there come other challenges. Due to the ease of using technology, everyone now expects immediate results and instant gratification. How often are you annoyed when a website doesn’t load quick enough or your cell phone drops a call? How many times has a slowly answered (or never for that matter) text or email frustrated you? “I just need a quick answer…”
In the business world, the instant results/gratification trend is clearly evident. The good old I’ll get back to you by tomorrow simply doesn’t cut it anymore. When a customer reaches out to you, via email, voicemail or with a web inquiry, they expect a response immediately.
The longer the company waits to respond, increases the likelihood that the customer will look elsewhere. I once worked for a company where salespeople had literally 5 minutes to claim a web lead or risked losing it. We’ve created a culture of respond quickly or else. Simply put, a company’s sales or marketing team always has to be where customers are when they need assistance. Traditional rules are long out the door.
The modern customer now expects great customer service, always. If they don’t receive it, they will disengage, which by the way is also easier than ever – hint “delete”, “unsubscribe”, and “send to voicemail”.
Clients are More Savvy, Marketing Should Adjust Accordingly
With unlimited access to data, the customer is now more educated and thus in control like never before. Rather than the salesperson selling to the customer, it’s much the opposite now. The modern educated customer knows what they want, how much their willing to pay for it, and they also know what the competition is charging. To add to this, they also now choose the medium of interaction.
By soliciting multiple bids within a few clicks, they can narrow their choices before deciding to engage or not. And they can do all of this in a fraction of the time as it did 20 or even 10 years ago. It’s now up to those in sales and marketing to stay a step ahead of potential clients.
Today’s customer doesn’t want to be sold to, they want to be interacted with. Again, the ball is in their court. The most successful companies this day in age take the customer on a journey towards a purchase. The best marketing in fact, creates this intimate journey by placing the customer directly in control of their own shopping experience. It’s personable, it’s memorable and it works!
Technology is absolutely a vital tool in the world of modern business. But we must note the difficulties and obstacles technology creates instead of solves. Otherwise, we will all fall behind.