My Message to Businesses in Brunei

Hello businesses, I’m an blogging to you in particularly today as I wish to convey a few thoughts I have about your online presence. I write this as a consumer who is would rather search for your company online rather than look your number up in a telephone directory. We live in a day and age where we are all connected and having an online presence is key in communicating to your customers and overall having better customer satisfaction.

Having an online presence can be as simple as having a Facebook / Twitter account to having a website with a full fledged shopping cart (or even more), but there are 3 main things that businesses need to communicate:

  1. Information about your business
  2. That you hear what your (potential) customers are talking about
  3. That you care about your customers

Information is the easiest part and is vital for anybody who wants to find something about your business: the main things is that people want to know what you provide (e.g. what products you sell, what services you provide) and if possible, at what cost. Business hours and contact numbers along with an address / map ensures customers know where to find you or how to contact you. This information can easily be put on a website or on Facebook. Twitter may not have the best answer here, but Twitter is more ideal for listening as detailed below. Remember, when giving out information, think of what the customer wants to know: if there is a new shipment of assorted bags: perhaps a snapshot of the bags to let customers have a feel of what they can expect.

As a business you want to know what people are saying about you: how was their last experience at premises, did they have any issues while being there? Twitter is the best bet for this as it is a more open platform compared to Facebook because Twitter is a more public space and people generally have their profile and tweets in the public for anybody to see. If you hear that a customer has had a bad experience or that they mention suggestions, respond to them. Let them know that you have read / heard what they have to say. This tells your customers that you hear them; that their voices don’t fall on completely deaf ears. Now if there are things that you, as a business owner, can change for the betterment of the customer it is then time to move to the last point of caring.

You have to care about your customers as they are the ones giving you their money and if they are not happy one way or another, they will take their money elsewhere. A customer complains about a bad experience with a waiter / waitress. What do you do? Get in touch with your customer: tell them that you are sorry for the bad experience, and to make things better offer them a discount the next time they come by. Do random acts of kindness such as giving a voucher to a random person who mentions your business as a sign of appreciation.

In order to carry out these 3 things, I shall focus on the 3 most relevant platforms: a website, a Twitter profile and Facebook page, and also give a few pointers and what you should do on each platform.

A website does not need to be complex and graphically rich: the main point of a website is to give information. This information is likely not going to change very rapidly: e.g. contact number, address and location, business hours. These bits of information are mostly static (i.e. don’t really change) and will be something that you should know already: i.e. there is no real cost in time to generate this. A blog / news update can also be put on a website to let customers know of things happening e.g. new stock has arrived (this could also be be done on Twitter / Facebook as well). A website doesn’t have to be expensive and you can start by creating a free one at places like Blogger, WordPress or Tumblr (and many businesses do this). Now one thing I really feel that business miss out on is branding by not using their own domain name (i.e. the words you type in the browser in order to bring up a website). I see many businesses use Blogger and have their website as which is pretty tacky for a business. Buy a domain name: it can be as cheap as US$1 a year (but more typically ~US$20, but could be higher depending on the URL itself). Some domain registrars you may want to check out are: GoDaddy, and Hover. Once you have a domain name, you can set up Google Apps for Domains to get company wide email, documents and more.

Twitter & Facebook
The 2 big guns in the social media realm, these are the first 2 places to go to in order to communicate with customers and potential customers. Please make sure your profile/page is public. It can be quite annoying to click a link to your profile/page, only to have to log into Facebook or send in a friend request in order to see the full post / information. In Twitter search and monitor keywords / hash tags which could be your business name or #brunei to see what people are saying about Brunei. One step further would be to follow / friend people in Brunei and see and monitor what they have to say on a daily basis: jump in where you can help / offer advice: i.e. be courteous, caring and genuine. Twitter is easy to set up with any email address but on Facebook you can create a Facebook page under an existing Facebook account or creating a Facebook profile (read why you should create a Facebook page instead of a profile). Whichever you pick, just makes sure it is visible to anybody without having to log into Facebook (yes I did mention this before, but it’s a pet peeve of mine when the information is not public).

Listed below are some notable businesses in Brunei that have recognized an importance in their online presence and are good candidates to look to emulate or learn a few pointers from. If you know any other great businesses in Brunei doing such, do list them down in the comments below.

So businesses who aren’t in the online world, what are you waiting for?

Don’t forget us humans

Taken from critiques on Business Process Reengineering (BPR) from Wikipedia

The most frequent and harsh critique against BPR concerns the strict focus on efficiency and technology and the disregard of people in the organization that is subjected to a reengineering initiative. Very often, the label BPR was used for major workforce reductions. Thomas Davenport, an early BPR proponent, stated that:

“When I wrote about “business process redesign” in 1990, I explicitly said that using it for cost reduction alone was not a sensible goal. And consultants Michael Hammer and James Champy, the two names most closely associated with reengineering, have insisted all along that layoffs shouldn’t be the point. But the fact is, once out of the bottle, the reengineering genie quickly turned ugly.”

Michael Hammer similarly admitted that:

“I wasn’t smart enough about that. I was reflecting my engineering background and was insufficient appreciative of the human dimension. I’ve learned that’s critical.”

“insufficient appreciative of the human dimension”: I think I suffer from this at times, many more than not