By Naftal Nyabuto
I have spoken to hundreds of small and medium businesses on what I call ‘the spider economy’ , and ‘loyalty program’ on the subject of business process disruptions for years now. Customer centric solutions are here with us and they are going to Tsunami anybody trying to resist .Unfortunately ,that disruption has been glaringly exposed at this time of the pandemic, and it has gotten many businesses snoring heavily under the billow of complacency .All this because, many of them, have always been misled to think that moments of harvest means a season of celebrations and therefore forgotten to purchase seed for the next planting season.
Speaking in one of the workshops organized by one of the leading loyalty program providers in Kenya MZAWADI, I said, ‘Retailers and manufacturers in Kenya are the most non progressive businesses in-terms of technology, they have always slumbered into thinking that, as long as the product is moving, they have the loyalty of a customer’. In that workshop, I was speaking on how even the smallest of a barber shop should use the simplest of technologies available in the market to streamline their value chain, create experience in customer relations, customer acquisition, reducing marketing costs, creating alternative selling channels, and understanding customer behaviors.
Fortunately, this are not expensive tools, with Software as a Service (SaaS) models of technology emerging and charging as low as Kes 1000 per month, you have no excuse not to catch up . This concept of technological advancement might have seemed farfetched mostly for small and micro businesses, but now the prophecy is come to haunt them. The customer is no longer coming to knock their doors, value chains have been disrupted, customer behaviors have changed, marketing budgets are shrinking, companies are panicking, and all of a sudden, we are all in the dark, looking for that illusive client and praying he will make the next call to you
Is it too late to redeem yourself? suddenly not, here are some of the things you need to urgently embark on:
• Remove the veil, customers’ needs to see and feel you: Many retailers have shrouded themselves behind the mask, you cannot get their phone number nor will you attach a personality to their business and have blocked the customer or potential partners from reaching the them .Reason? they thought you need them more than they need you
• Embrace partnership: Unfortunately, solitary tendencies are going to crash you, you either collaborate or die. Regardless of size of your business, market place is full of potential partners, you either welcome them, or you face the silence of loneliness.
• Get your presence online: We keep talking of globalization, but small businesses haven’t digested this fact well enough, the market place has moved online. If you waiting for Corona to end to go open the doors of your shop, then you may be on the road to collapse
• Stop leaving on the past glory. Let us be straight, don’t think because you have been making profit for God knows how many years, you are not going to kill the business, just like the sun rises, it also sets, keep moving with time otherwise you will be ‘Kodaked’.
• Keep in touch with your clients: and here is the interesting part, you never bothered to know your client, never made an effort to understand them, how do you think they will remember you now? However, if you were lucky to have had a technology in place, keep talking to them, give them hope, let them know you care and you will see how they stream back when they recover and you ain’t.
Did I sound familiar? Whether you like it not, now it is the time to think on survival and work on recovery plan. Use this moment to strategize, establish partnerships, negotiate them and wait for the right moment to bounce back. The fact that even the senior most executives of any company is at home, this equalizer is the opportunity you will not want to miss.
Naftal Nyabuto is the CEO of Tally International