Technology Investments: 5 Questions to Help You Make Strategic Decisions
How do you make decisions about technology investments?
Technology has created new habits in all of us - including our clients. Just consider how you use the internet, apps, social media, or text messaging each day.
As a professional, you have a choice: to ignore what’s going on or keep up! I say keep up! But, be strategic. Not everything that’s “new and shiny” serves your goals and objectives.
How do you decide when to adopt new technology and when to say, “No, thank you!” At freshbenies, we consider the following 5 questions before deciding to invest…
1. Does it meet clients where they are?
This comes down to giving your clients the power of choice. When clients have a question or a problem, some will pick up the phone, while others prefer to visit your website first – or open your app, send you an email, etc. Are you making it easy for clients to reach you when and where they want to be served?
Answering this question was a big part of our decision to expand technology for freshbenies customers. A year ago, a client could contact us via email, phone or social media. Today, our customers can still use those channels, but we’ve expanded our technology to give clients additional options. From our website, brokers, employers and members can talk with Bonnie – our AI Assistant – to get immediate answers to their questions. If they need a little more help than Bonnie can provide, customers can also chat with a live agent, instantly providing them with solutions and feedback.
TIP: We live in a 24/7 world. Successful businesses can’t resist technology innovations that improve communication. Those who do risk losing business from clients who’ve moved on to new communication channels. But be smart about what you start - once you’ve given clients a taste of accessibility, it’s hard to take it away.
2. Does it provide a customer-centric experience?
When evaluating a new tool or updating an existing functionality, it’s important to ensure the experience is focused on the customer.
- Is it easy and intuitive to use?
- Does it create more work or frustration for the client?
- Are there newer trends that could add value?
Ask these questions about your website, mobile app, and social media channels – each of these affect your customer experience.
For example, did you know nearly three-quarters of Americans (77%) own some type of “smart” device? Smart phone usage has more than doubled in the past 6 years. Successfully reaching clients through this tool is a non-negotiable. Your website must have a responsive layout to adapt for optimal viewing on smaller mobile devices. A strong app is also top priority for serving clients quickly and conveniently.
TIP: Is your new technology an investment that improves the customer experience in some way? If the answer is not a definitive yes, then it’s time to re-evaluate.
3. Does it help you reach clients more consistently and efficiently?
While it’s a top priority to create a customer experience that “wows,” it’s also imperative your internal team has what they need to service your clients well. Investing in a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system or Digital Marketing Platform could be the right move for you and your team in the coming year.
Your internal technology budget should allow for good investments in four key areas:
- Find new leads – bring in the right leads through digital marketing platforms and your website
- Follow-up on leads – connect with prospects and make the onboarding process for new clients easier
- Close sales – reveal deeper insights into the needs of your prospects, enabling you to make an impact and close the deal
- Handle customer problems – give customers immediate access to resources that resolve concerns or complaints
TIP: Don’t neglect your internal systems. They can be just as important to your customer experience as external client-facing systems.
4. Is there a reliable user experience?
It takes time and effort for your entire team to learn, transition, and adopt new systems. And, if new external technologies are released prematurely, it can cost goodwill with clients.
A handful of years ago, I traveled with a group of friends who decided to upload all of our photos to a cloud service, making it easy to share. One of these friends spent countless hours uploading his photos to this service and was very frustrated with the experience. Fast forward a few years, and you can now load hundreds of photos with this same service in just minutes. However, he is totally unwilling to give this service another chance – no matter how much I tease!
TIP: Beware of the MVP. No, this isn’t the “most valuable player,” but you could mistake it as one. MVP is a Minimum Viable Product. It can be tempting to adopt or release new technology with speed in mind. There’s definitely a benefit to moving fast, but it’s far better to be sure a new technology is reliable and helpful to your team and clients than to focus on a specific timeline. Ask these questions:
- Is this product finished and reliable for all users?
- Are there advantages to waiting?
- Does this technology represent the company values in areas of service, sales and marketing?
- Are you prepared to pull the plug or extend the timeline if the user experience isn’t reliable?
5. Is this technology secure?
I don’t know about you, but the headlines of breaches continue to scare me! Anyone want Lifelock added to your freshbenies plan?
Every year, huge data breaches impact the world’s biggest companies, and ALL companies are vulnerable. Theft of personal customer information is a common, legitimate concern.
As Employee Benefit Advisors you deal with particularly sensitive information. As the industry builds mobile-ready, digital technologies that need to seamlessly integrate into legacy, there are often gaps that create concern. Precautions, such as cybersecurity systems, must be taken to protect the identities, finances and family information of your clients.
In addition, ever-changing data protection laws continue to drive the need for us to be diligent about providing more robust security processes.
TIP: Is your new technology leaving gaps in the security of your customer data? Have you vetted your technology partners for proper cyber security measures? Have you tested your systems for security vulnerability?
No one has a crystal ball, and even the best can get it wrong. Being in the Employee Benefits Industry, you’ve already shown that you can be flexible and learn new skills as they come up. Do the same with technology – educate yourself through articles and websites about technology. Pay close attention to how other industries are taking advantage of them and stay vigilant. Remember, shiny and new is great, but longevity is found in focusing on the right outcomes for your company and customer!
Now it’s your turn! What questions do you ask when researching and making decisions about technologies that best serve your clients and your business? Comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.