Partners are paramount, but customers first
Website development has come a long way since the early 2000s. In the early 2000s it was all about get rich quick, in the mid 2000s the web was accepted by large corporates as a way to better touch consumers and now its all about Web 2.0 – integration and collaboration.
So what am I getting at here? Your customer owns your brand. They have open channels to their network of friends, they will criticise and/or promote your products and/or services the moment they have a good or bad experience. They are what we call brand 2.0 because essentially your customer couldn’t care less about you or your KPIs they only care about being a rockstar to their 10-100 friends on Facebook.
You can’t afford to just have a brochure online today. Your website has so many considerations – the user experience, user interface design, channel strategy, technology, integration points, web services and the list goes on an on. I find it unreal when a design agency delivers the design first and the entire UX (user experience) makes no sense at all, or the IT department deliver a project and the user interface design and experience is so complicated you might as well bin the project. So, how do we find the balance in a partner, or internal teams, to deliver projects that make sense to your customer?
The answer for me has always been collaboration because when different minds and experts come together suddenly magic happens… I had a recent experience with a design agency advising a mutual client on their digital strategy without recognising or considering key fundamentals:
- different user types
- the online experience these different users expect
- appropriate technology behind the scene
- introducing or integrating with key business applications, such as a CRM
- consideration on a channel strategy to better reach the different users
- working to a realistic budget, and
- delivering the application in full, on time
The list of deliverables can go on and on. What is worse, the client is caught in the middle and confusion steps in. Instead, where is the customer first attitude? Ego no longer survives in these forever changing economic times, it’s expertise and knowledge that thrives!
All this said, you know what makes me really nervous? The technology landscape is shifting and predictions are being made that there will be an IT skill shortage in 2010, in particular software development skills. If you work in a large organisation, you may be affected because your IT team may shrink or not exist. If you rely on your IT department to deliver online projects and suddenly you are dealing with a third party partner locally or overseas, you need to make sure that you actually have a partner who is capable of delivering solutions that make sense to you, your stakeholders and your user(s) and not just confuse the hell out of you and cost you your job!