The current trend in communications is more (and more) communication technologies, providers, mechanisms and buzz words. Social Media, VoIP, Blogs, Wikis, Unified Communications, TelePresence, WebMeetings, SMS, IM, Chat, Mobile, MicroBlogging, etc.
You can hop on any tech site and see daily skirmishes over which technology is the best – or how you should leverage social media in PR and Marketing. But at the end of the day we are doing an awful job creating applications that solve real challenges faced by Small Businesses – which is ironic, because communication between businesses and their prospects and customers is a significant source of pain.
All this technology isn’t making the situation better for small businesses and their customers – it is making it worse. How many ways does a person need to make a phone call? How many “channels” of web reviews, posts, comments and rankings can a small business legitimately afford to monitor and react to. It is a deluge – and for the most part it is noise. And because of that signal to noise gap we are missing the real opportunity – Why aren’t we creating applications that leverage communications to make transactions easier (for both seller and buyer) and more efficient?
We’ve all seen it whether in our own small business or in our transactions (or attempted transactions) with small businesses. Annoying appointment reminder calls, customers who fail to show, unreturned phone calls, calls outside business hours, unanswered emails, frustrated blog posts, bad reviews, etc.
How many times have you attempted to get a contractor to simply show up to give you an estimate? How many times have you (Mr. contractor) shown up to do an estimate to find no one home? How many hours a day does the salon owner spend calling to make sure her appointments will show up… and how many don’t show up anyway?
Improving communications between small businesses and their prospects and customers is a huge problem space that has been largely ignored. It is a massive opportunity to improve both the lives of small business owners, by helping them acquire and retain customers and at the same time make them more efficient; and small business customers, by making small businesses easier to do business with.
I’m not just telling you this – I’m obsessed with it. So much so that it is now the entire purpose of cosinity. It is the whole point of page2call – helping small businesses get better at customer acquisition by making them easier to do business with and allowing them to better track the effectiveness of their online presence.
I’ve spent years (too many years) solving these problems in fortune 500 companies. And while I admit – most of the time large companies use these technologies as barriers to communication – that was in every instance a failure of vision and will. For fortune 500 communicating with customers is a cost to be minimized. For small businesses communicating with prospects and customers is a matter of survival – and when leveraged as an advantage a key driver of growth.
I know creating these applications for small businesses is nearly as sexy as another micoblogging service, or anything you can stamp social media on, but it does have one significant advantage. 25 million target customers who have no problem spending money to acquire and retain customers.