Think about your website for a minute. When a visitor wants to engage with your business, what digital options do they have — and more importantly, what happens after they exercise those options? For most sites out there, the answer to the first question is to submit a contact form. The answer to the second question is that an email is sent to some single point of contact (who we’ll call “Bob”), where it may languish in an inbox for days or get lost in a spam folder. This approach has been the same since the early 2000s. The technology of the web has evolved way beyond that in the meantime. If your site still uses the techniques of 20 years ago, it’s time to rethink your approach to the web.
What Is “Holistic Technology”?
“Holistic” means viewing something as a complete system. In most businesses, various individual technology systems are in use, including CRM or account management software, business or practice management tools, and an accounting application. While these are generally treated separately, most can be integrated with your website via an API (application programming interface) which allows disparate systems to “talk” to each other. What this means for your site is that instead of being a stand-alone advertisement, it now becomes a functional part of your business — delivering as much or more value to your existing customer base as it enhances the experience of new prospects.
We can begin the sales cycle by dumping the email form submission process. When you present a prospect with a sales path via a “Getting Started” form or similar, submitting that form can post the request data directly to your sales management software instead of sending it to someone to post by hand. This eliminates the bottleneck of waiting for Bob to see the email, eliminates Bob’s errors when transcribing that email to the sales system, and immediately makes that information available to everyone with access to the sales software instead of just Bob. (We love you, Bob, but this has been a problem.) The result is a faster, more efficient approach to immediately answering your customer’s needs.
For many people, this is the last place in the product life cycle on the website that matters — but really, it should just be the first. With a registered account on your website, your customer can gain previously unavailable visibility to their business with you. If you’re using business management software with an API, you can post production or purchase status back to a customer’s account. Shipping APIs can show the fulfillment process. Your customer relation or customer support software can allow ticket creation and status checking through your site. And if you’re using accounting software like Quickbooks Online, you can show the customer’s billing history and balances.
All of these things may be accomplished individually via the applications you’re using, depending on how those applications allow user interface. By providing all those services cohesively through your website, however, you give your customers a polished experience that makes it a joy to do business with you. Your website goes from being the advertisement by which they first reached you to the center of how they do business with you. Reducing the friction and pain points of multiple systems and unpredictable communication with automated systems that put the user in control pays off big in the form of customer loyalty and increased reordering. It also decreases organizational inefficiency, reducing the total labor hours required in your product life cycle (which means Bob better step up his game).
Do you have questions about using a holistic technology approach in your business? Let’s talk!