I want to set the context right with the following two points before I begin:
- This article is got nothing to do with HR or people practices. I am no expert on it. The article talks about an indispensable part of any company or organization – its website
- Websites have evolved to a great extent over time. Today’s websites are vibrant, colourful, elegant, seamless – in essence they are beautiful. All these traits are pre-dominantly feminine and hence we will refer to the website as “she” in the article from here on.
Some trivia to begin with: The first website (Info.cern.ch) was built at CERN within the border of France, and was put online on 6 August 1991. Since then, websites have come a long way. Let’s classify this 25-year-old journey into three phases. The years mentioned against each phase is an estimated timeline.
Phase 1: The I-Card Phase (1991 – 1999)
This was when she just represented the company. She was more like a statue announcing the presence of an entity/ company. Actually, she was a bit more. A talking mannequin if I can say so. She would tell a bit about the entity and what it did. That’s all.
The I-Card phase of websites made it nothing more than an online One-pager of the company.
Phase 2 – The Receptionist phase (2000-2007)
This probably happened towards the last few years of the 20th century, leading to the Y2K. Here, the website became a very warm receptionist. She welcomed the customers with a great smile and helped them understand the various aspects of the business. Actually, she wasn’t just a receptionist. She was a gracious host that enhanced the appeal of the brand/ product/company. She helped the visitors/ guests understand the details about the company, know about each aspect viz. services offered, customers served, career opportunities and how the company could be contacted.
The Receptionist phase was more like a guided tour of the company and a detailed peek into its functioning, services and brand promise.
Phase 3 – The Best Salesperson phase (2008 – Today)
With the advent of social media, mobility and cloud technology, websites became much more than the smiling receptionist. She is now your most motivated employees, is alert 24×7, and knows everything about the business. When a visitor/ guest/ prospect comes to the website, she ensures that they know about the value proposition of the business, how it can help them, and in a very visually aided (graphics + video) explanatory manner, it enables the visitor/guest/prospect to arrive at a decision. The decision is to engage with the company, buy its products, avail its services etc.
She is thus, enabling your business to today get more customers than ever before. She is your best salesperson.
The Twin sister: In phase 3, she also has a twin sister who helps showcase your company, its services and products, to new-age customers, especially Millennials. This twin sister is the mobile app, which also showcases the business/ product or service in the best possible manner on handheld devices such as smartphones, tablets etc. which are an indispensable part of our lives today.
So, how are you treating your best Employee?
Imagine your best employee. Why is she/he the best? It is because she/he surpasses expectations each time, comes up with new innovations, is more often than not congenial and has the ability to take teams together. It, of course, comes at a good cost to the company and there is a constant threat of this employee being poached by the competition.
Now, compare this with the website and the following are the advantages:
- She is the flag-bearer for your business/ company 24×7
- She can connect and bind various teams together, actually much more… she gives the brand a unified identity
- She can educate prospects from all over the world and help them engage with your product/ company, unlike your best salesperson who will still be restricted to a particular geography
- She can get the best prospective employees to engage with your brand and join your workforce
- She can help generate a huge interest in your company and hence generate a number of enquiries and leads
- She can keep stakeholders such as investors, vendors and customers well-informed at all times
- She can guide people to reach your office, get in touch with you easily
- She can also give you insights, trends into the people who interested in engaging with your brand, the geographies they are from, the time they spent studying about you and so on, which are vital cues for your business strategy.
These obvious advantages make the website – your best employee. How much do you spend on your website? How much attention do you pay to the content on it, the design, the SEO practices, the messaging and the value proposition, and most importantly the customer experience?
Treat your best employee really well. There’s a guarantee that she will work for your brand throughout its lifetime and ensure that all your stakeholders are delighted with your company and its offerings. She will ensure that your brand equity soars and so does your brand loyalty.
Did you conduct her annual appraisal? If not, do it. Pay her a little more… attention, if nothing else!