At Tower Systems create software for independent retailers. We’ve been doing this for almost 25 years. We serve over 2,000 clients across Australia and New Zealand.
The biggest single challenge we have on a day to day basis getting our clients to use our business management software beyond the most basic cash register replacement type functions.
While many of our clients engage with the software and push it to its design and capacity boundaries, many do not and remain oblivious to what’s actually happening in their businesses. It’s like they enjoy owning the business but don’t want to understand. Some expect the software to understand for them. Others, well I don’t know.
Every day in our business we talk about how we can improve engagement with the technology for the benefit of client businesses. It’s somewhat of a holy grail. We care about it because of our long history in the marketplace. We also care about it because of our affinity with the small business space. We believe in small business and will champion it at every opportunity.
To deepen engagement we have tried free training sessions; newsletters; online forums; trade shows; business performance analysis and face to face visits.
What we have found works best is face to face contact. It’s only through this that we can see whether they are good users or bad and whether they are serious about their business and are prepared to put in the necessary effort. Face to face we can measure how our pro bono effort will be received and valued and this will guide our investment. Of course the option is to ignore all this and just stick with making and shipping software. They may work for Microsoft. In the small business sector it’s all about engagement and that only happens when you are directly in front of the customer.
So, we champion face to face one on one contact. This is where we shine and our customers learn the most. More often than not, through these face to face discussions we see people evolve and become more engaged in using the technology as a partner to drive the business.
Software companies serving small businesses should consider face to face contact as a key part of their customer interface strategy. It pays for itself through referral business without any effort whatsoever. It’s also a point of difference as most software companies won’t have the drive or commitment to make it work. In our case I’d say more than half the growth we’re achieving is as a result of this effort at a better and more personal client relationship.