The classic website is the most important business card for any company. This is not only what the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber says, but also our interview partner in today's feature.
Mr. Thomas Friedschröder is an expert in digitalization issues at HMP Beratungs GmbH and has helped many companies to establish a digital presence and be successful. Recently, we sat down with Mr. Friedschröder to discuss the importance of websites for companies. Read here what an expert says about the value of a website.
Dear Mr. Friedschröder, thank you very much for taking the time to talk to us during these turbulent times. How are you and your company coping with the situation?
Friedschröder: Overall, we're doing well as a business. Our order situation is quite OK, but the way of working has fundamentally changed, especially as a management consultant who usually works a lot in person with clients. Now, a lot is done digitally, and it works well in many areas.
That's good to hear. However, with the sudden digitalization of many areas due to the Corona crisis, many companies are currently struggling. You are an expert in digitalization issues at HMP. Tell us more about how you and HMP support and advise your clients in terms of digitalization.
Friedschröder: We have developed our own digitalization framework, in which all our methods and experiences are summarized - from strategy for digitalization, digital organization and governance to targeted use of technology for new models and innovation. This forms the basis for our work with our clients. In general, we focus on the areas of future work, efficiency improvement, customer interaction, and innovation, where we support our clients.
Very exciting approaches that also bring us to the core topic of our interview: digitalization. It is becoming increasingly important in many industries and areas and is already a success factor in many cases. The pandemic further highlights the importance of digitalization. How important is it for SMEs to actively approach digitalization?
Friedschröder: In short, very important. We are developing even more strongly towards a tele-society - also due to the pandemic. Digitalization will be introduced in all areas of life, from work to education, leisure, shopping, mobility, housing, etc. - and thus all companies will be affected. The environment of organizations will change radically - and now probably faster - in this direction, with all the opportunities and risks, especially for SMEs.
"To remain successful as a company, regardless of size, one must be flexible and offer customers the same digital possibilities as in reality."
Let's stick with SMEs, the backbone of the Austrian economy. It is noticeable that there is still a lot of catching up to do when it comes to online presence. An attractive and functional online presence can be the first step towards digitalization for many. How important do you think it is for our SMEs in Austria to position themselves better in this regard?
Friedschröder: Smaller and medium-sized - yes, especially those - companies must be represented in the digital world of today and tomorrow and present themselves accordingly on the web. The pandemic has clearly shown that many things can shift to the digital world overnight. To remain successful as a company, whether large or small, one must be flexible and offer customers the same digital possibilities as in reality. Many small companies have become creative in this regard and have built up a corresponding presence on the web. However, it is also noticeable that many are still missing here, and there is a great need for action for many SMEs. Now is the time to act. However, one thing is of paramount importance: all online activities must be exclusively geared towards the customer's requirements ("Customer First").
Step by step instructions on how to successfully build an online shop that generates revenue.
A full and transparent audit of how your website performs and what should be improved.
"Customer First" means also aligning the website to the actual user and adapting information specifically to their needs. For example, we often hear that companies spend a lot of time answering phone inquiries that could actually be answered on the website.
Friedschröder: The internet has a big advantage over personal or telephone support: cost. The same support activity costs 10 times as much money compared to phone support and even 100 times as much for personal support. So there is enormous potential for cost savings here. Of course, this does not mean that you should completely do away with personal or telephone support. By providing targeted information and answers to users' questions on the website, you make it more interesting for them while saving time and costs at the same time.
"Being up to date is the most important success factor on the web. Nothing makes companies more unattractive than outdated or unmaintained websites or online shops."
With Website as a Service, we choose a somewhat different approach than traditional web design agencies, by placing much more emphasis on support and further development of the website after launch. From your point of view, how important is it to always keep your website up to date, both technically and in terms of content, continuously adapt it, and provide timely information and content?
Friedschröder: Absolutely essential. Being up to date is the most important success factor on the web. Nothing makes companies more unattractive than outdated or unmaintained websites or online shops. Here we are back to the theme of "Customer First" - visitors and customers expect current and maintained websites, and companies have to deliver that.
As a final question, we would like to know what tips you have for SMEs in Austria regarding digitization. Should our companies improve and invest in their digital presence, especially in these times, to remain competitive nationally and internationally?
Friedschröder: Basically, four things are very important: 1) Customer First - think digital services from the customer's perspective; 2) Simple and clear digital offerings and services, easy to understand and use; 3) Knowing the rules of the web and orienting oneself accordingly; 4) Having the right partner for the web who knows these rules.
Thank you very much, Mr. Friedschröder, for your time and interesting insights into digitization and the importance of a web presence. We wish you and HMP continued success in the future, and we note:
An attractive web presence is essential for every company, whether large or small, old or young, regional or international.
If you feel that your web presence could be better, have it checked for free by us with our free Website Audit. A professional and successful web presence is no longer an easy task with all the things one has to consider today. We are happy to help you, advise you for free, and support you in successfully building your presence on the web.
Our interviewee: Thomas Friedschröder, Expert in Digitalisation and Innovation at HMP Consulting GmbH