What Your Business Can Take From 2014 to Progress into 2015

Today, January the 5th, is the day many of us have reluctantly returned to work after the joyous festive holidays. Oh, the Christmas holidays, how we had such jubilant fun with distant relatives, how we have gained a few extra pounds that we tellingly would like to shed, how eager we once were to catch up with colleagues to share tales of shenanigans, and how all of which will soon become a distant memory.

Adjusting from your holiday mindset to your working mentality is undeniably a real drag. However, with each new year comes an opportunity to summarise our achievements and determine the lessons we have learnt. But of course, with the good comes the bad and the ugly. Here are four business stories of 2014 scrutinised and examined the lessons we can take from them to progress into 2015:

1. Instagram Deletes Spam Accounts

In December of 2014, Instagram informed users on their activity feed, that they may see a plummet in the number of their followers as it cleans up spam accounts. The Facebook-owned social network was to crack down on fake accounts to ensure marketers are supplied with accurate metrics, and users are provided with a better platform. One digital marketing agency estimated that this would result in the deletion of 10 million fake accounts.

By taking such drastic steps to delete fake accounts, Instagram is demonstrating the value of quality over quantity. Today’s typical workplace attitude is to ‘win’ business at any cost. As a result, many organisations measure their successes by the monitoring of numbers. If your business is only interested in increasing numbers (the number of followers, the number of website visits, the number of sales, etc.), your customers will become just a number.

If your company’s goal is to generate a sale then move on, you’re causing your business more harm than good. It’s more costly to find new custom than to keep existing customers happy. Your business should focus on maintaining a high level of service which ensures you cultivate loyalty within customers. It’s the quality of your customer relationships that count, not the quantity.

2. EE Says No More to Orange Wednesday’s

Towards the end of 2014, EE (which owns mobile network Orange) confirmed that they’ll be stopping two for one on Orange Wednesday deals as of 25 February 2015. The iconic promotion that was launched over a decade ago, meant EE users could get two cinema tickets for the price of one every Wednesday, and also two for one on Pizza Express.

Although the company received a backlash of negativity following the announcement (as expected), by pronouncing change clearly and effectively ahead of the implementation date, customers of EE have had a chance to adjust to such changes. Change can be a difficult and frightening time for customers. If you plan to administrate change to your services, make sure you warn customers months beforehand in a simple and clear way.

3. The Scandalous Hack on Sony Pictures

2014 saw the unimaginable happen when Sony Picture’s computer systems got hacked, and if this wasn’t disastrous enough, what followed was worse still. Sony’s computers were down for two days late November following a message on employees screens which read: “we already warned you, and this is just a beginning.”

Following the computer hack, revelations on Sony’s questionable business practices were leaked to the public. Some cybersecurity experts estimated that the leak would cost Sony $100m, along with the possibility of lost future opportunities as Hollywood responds to the damage. As 2014 came to an end the attack was still unfolding, as Sony questioned whether to cancel the release of The Interview, a comedy film about a plot to kill North Korea’s leader, after threats to attack movie-goers.

No matter how abundant or reputed your business is, you’re still endangered of things going wrong. Your business must consider the worst possible scenarios and have back-ups for each one. For example: an overhead telephone service when your lines go down or hard, or storing hard and soft copies of all documents for when files get misplaced.

4. Ad-Free Ello Deemed the Facebook-Killer

March 2014 saw the social networking service Ello created. Ello is an ad-free alternative to existing social networks by allowing users a ‘Freemium’ business plan which gives users basic access for free. The network website is still in early stages and promises to be the ‘one to watch’ in 2015.

Facebook doesn’t ask for money upfront but rather sells personal data (unknowingly from the user) and bombards users activity feeds with advertisements, in order to earn money. Ello is the anti-Facebook platform and promises users no selling and no advertisements.

The uproar of the platform shows that people would prefer to settle for less than to be exploited and ignored. Studies conducted by Customer Experience Impact (CEI) show that 86% of consumers will pay for a better customer experience. Your business must realise that the customer matters more than anything; more than short-term revenue and more than the actual product.

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