December 05, 2007

On Email

Last week I met the owner of a small company in Italy. The problem was they were having "issues" with email.
There is no need for details here: the point is that they were having their whole business going around emails: client's orders, notices... anything.
If an email doesn't get to destination, it's a big trouble. This company is one of those small realities doing huge business: their customers are all enterprise-level realities and they're almost monopolists. Still, they're doing what most SMB do: they find an almost-working medium and stick with it.

It doesn't matter if it's not perfect: it's easy and it doesn't need training for the employers. But as soon as your business grows, it really matters.

So what? Start thinking NOW about how you communicate with clients: have you got Out Of Band connections? How do you know if that mail got lost? Even more: are you sure there aren't better ways to do what you're doing with emails?

My advice was very simple: build an extranet, and use it as the hub of your communications. You're asking your customers to do something (logging in requires more effort than just downloading emails) so be sure to offer something in return: targeted ads are not enough!
Is there anything new in an extranet? Well, there are plenty of things you can do with it, but we'll speak about them in another post: what you can do NOW is to be proactive. Do not let your current media fail you, be ready to scale!