I hate to say this, I really do, but I’ll say it anyways. A significant number of companies are, as of this writing, losing customers. And they don’t even realize it’s happening.

Why? Because they don’t understand the importance of future-proofing their business!

Let me explain.

Way back in 2015 during the brief run of our podcast, WSI’s co-founder, Dan Monaghan, discussed the value of businesses keeping their eyes on the digital horizon. To quote Dan directly, he said that, “Being aware of the digital horizon – even if it’s way off in the distance – is one of the best things a business can do for its future.”

As vital as this message was then, it’s now even more important to future-proof your business. Digital technology and artificial intelligence are advancing so quickly that businesses need to be one step ahead of the curve in order to survive.

The Importance of Future-Proofing Your Business

Are you worried you might be losing customers? Don’t feel that your business is ready for the future? Read on to learn the importance of future-proofing your business and how to start doing it today!

Be Prepared

Some will read this post and think, “Hey, where’s all the futuristic type stuff and tips for dealing with new technology, isn’t that what we need to prepare for five years from now?”

Sure, doing that helps, and we make a set of digital marketing predictions every year. If you’re willing to take risks and gamble on things that may or may not happen, we’re all for it. We just know that there are many businesses who are hesistant to change anything about their products, services or marketing efforts. What we’re trying to do here is open them up to the possibility of change and, in any small way they can, actually prepare for it.

When it comes down to it, a key component of future-proofing your business is preparedness.

In the real world, if you see a storm on the horizon, you prepare for that storm. Recently, millions of people around the world were glued to weather updates about Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Jose and Maria. Unfortunately, due to the unpredictable volatility of such storms, many were forced into impossible situations and certain areas were left devastated by damages. In other regions, advance hurricane planning, preparation and evacuation aided millions of people and helped keep them safe.

A close friend of mine shared this story with me and I think it furthers the point. My friend and her husband drove down to Florida over the Labor Day Weekend, with plans to stay in Orlando for about a week. A day after they arrived, they started hearing about Irma, a tropical storm that had very quickly escalated to a Category 5 hurricane over the Atlantic Ocean. They watched the news and realized Irma was likely headed straight for Florida.

Over the next few days, they witnessed the people of an entire state prepare for the hurricane in every way they could. Water and gas were quickly in short supply, with canned food not far behind. Windows were shuttered and buildings fortified. Florida was taking Irma seriously and they would be ready.

My friend and her husband knew they’d have to cut their trip short but weren’t sure when they should leave. They decided earlier was better, so they left Florida in the wee hours on the morning of Thursday, September 7, about three full days before Irma tore through Orlando. Due to evacuation traffic, it took them 18 hours to drive from Orlando to Nashville, which is normally an 11 hour drive. It’s a good thing they left when they did. Here’s what parts of the drive looked like:

How To Future-Proof Your Business – Be Prepared

But you know what? They made it safe and sound.

For Florida, and for my friends, preparedness and the willingness to adapt on the fly helped make a difficult situation more manageable.

Focus on your Customer Experience

There are two ways a laser-sharp focus on your customer experience can contribute to future-proofing your business.

The first is by readying your organization for customer experience success from the inside out, which is something we learned from the fine people at Fifth P. If you are able to treat your employees the way you want them to treat your customers, the impact is timeless. It’s already future-proofed the moment you accomplish it.

The second way you can future proof your business through your customer experience is by paying attention to your customers as time moves forward. Things change, including customers’ wants, needs, the way they interact with you and even how the use your products and services. If you offer customers the same exact experience for five years in a row without changing a single thing, you’re probably not paying much attention to them.

Yes, you might have a great product or service, and as we talked about, if you have true buy-in from your employees, the experience is likely good. But in business, good becomes great, and great morphs into exceptional. Things can always be better, and constantly improving is one of the surest ways to future-proof your business.

If you provide your customers with a constantly improving experience, why would they ever leave?

Conclusion

As we head into 2018 and beyond, get ready for your business’s future by keeping your eye on the digital horizon. Use it to be prepared and ready for anything, as well as to focus, sharpen and adapt your customer experience. Do these things and confidently strive forward with a future-proofed business!

Editor’s Note: We mentioned a few of the recent natural disasters that significantly damaged various parts of the US and many other countries around our world. If you are able and interested in donating to disaster relief efforts, All Hands and Global Giving were both given 4/4 stars by Charity Navigator. Thanks for reading!

About Valerie Brown-Dufour

As President, Valerie is responsible for leading the WSI global franchise system. She is also charged with managing the innovation of the WSI business model as a whole.