Low-code provides small businesses with an affordable and relatively simple-to-use way to create valuable apps that help improve the user and customer experiences.
For small businesses across the globe, the pandemic necessitated a shift to digital in all facets: how customers interact with the company, how employees contribute from home, and how efforts can be maximized when employees are being inundated on all sides by online requests. Companies wanting to enact sustainable, comprehensive changes to their business processes would do well to consider low-code, a means of building and maintaining digital and web-based tools that requires little coding knowledge.
One of the key benefits of low-code is empowering employees to build tools they would use on a daily basis, ensuring their needs get directly met, and nuances aren’t lost when translating these needs to an outside vendor.
The use of low-code is expected to increase worldwide over the next few years. IDC estimates that low-code developers will see a CAGR of 40.4% from 2021-2025—more than three times the CAGR of the general developer population.
Here’s more on what small businesses stand to gain from low-code and how it helps attain three of the most salient small business goals of today: improving customer experience (CX), maximizing employee contribution within a limited timeframe, and enabling remote work capabilities—and how to get started.
See also: Why Low Code Development Still Needs Some IT Oversight
Ensure Seamless CX
When customers can reach a brand across multiple devices and channels—making a purchase from their phone, messaging a web-based bot for troubleshooting tips, and returning something in-store—a single bad experience can turn them off entirely. A 2021 survey by Coveo found that 73% of customers will ditch a brand after three or fewer bad service encounters.
Strong attention to CX (aka, ensuring brand voice and service levels translate across all facets of doing business) results in repeat business and a high likelihood that customers will recommend the company to their network—53%, according to Coveo.
The first step in improving CX is understanding precisely where things are breaking down and for what reasons; visibility is key to deploying surgical, cost-effective solutions. Data reigns supreme as a necessary part of making this happen, but it’s not as simple as collecting a wealth of backend metrics or spamming customers with surveys. The data must not only be understandable but actionable, as well.
Key to these efforts is an easy-to-interpret dashboard where the data can be accessed by everyone and interpreted for everyone. Thanks to low-code, these dashboards can be built by almost any small business staff member and shared with the rest of the organization with a few clicks. Data can be imported from a variety of sources and interpreted as a graph, chart, numerical list, or whatever form makes the most sense.
Low-code platforms also offer the ability to customize the look of these dashboards to help with prioritization. No need to provide constant updates, either. The AI/ML capabilities of these platforms will suggest which form makes the most sense for the data provided, then automatically adjust the numbers when new data becomes available, ensuring employees are always viewing the most up-to-date information.
Companies can start strengthening their CX by establishing a cadence to review data and suggest tweaks to streamline processes. Thanks to low-code, not much prep work is required, as the most up-to-date information is always available to everyone. Decide on changes and deputize the individuals who actually interact with the customers to make them, saving time and confusion trying to collaborate across departments. It’s important to allow enough time to pass before reevaluating CX—changes to behavior won’t occur overnight.
Maximize Employee Contribution to Business Goals
Advancements in tech have made automation a viable option for accomplishing routine tasks—things like sending customers a form email when they opt into a newsletter or funneling survey information into a central location. But while the results of automation require little effort on the part of employees, setting up the processes can feel like a large technology lift.
Not so using low-code. With little to no IT knowledge, employees can establish automated processes that run efficiently, quickly, and mindlessly from the cloud. These are repeatable as well, meaning upfront effort pays dividends down the line.
These employees don’t need to start from scratch, either. Companies that run on low-code-enabled platforms are equipped with a number of preloaded functions from which to build. For example, a basic tool for inputting customer information can be easily expanded upon to include fields specific to the particular company—and easily leverage the latest in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning technology to process inputs quickly.
The process begins with developing an understanding of workflows, particularly if a company is new to automation and hasn’t yet formalized its processes. Some platforms offer the ability to craft visual representations of workflows, such as decision trees, to identify who handles each step. These blueprint-like charts, like the coding functions of low-code platforms, operate as drag-and-drop modules that can be rearranged and shared—and can be fed into the approval process, alerting managers when a chart is ready for their eyes.
Once everyone is in agreement on how work should be conducted, managers will have the proper level of visibility from which to adapt employee responsibilities, so everything gets done within reasonable timeframes and without overloading any one person.
Elevate the Work-From-Home Experience
To say remote and hybrid work is here to stay is an understatement—for many, working from home has become the default. It’s not much more difficult to stay home when the amount of required work tools remains low, but as internal systems grow, so, too, does the number of hoops an organization must jump through to enable its remote workforce.
In particular, applications that require storing a wealth of data and security outside the network of a physical server can be inconsistent when everyone requires access from afar.
The ease of low-code doesn’t diminish its level of security. The ability to adhere to specific regulations, such as HIPAA or GDPR (the European Union’s privacy law), comes standard with many low-code platforms and ensures work can be done across industries and geographic locations without fear of breaches or impropriety. The fact that this software lives in the cloud also saves companies money on server purchases and maintenance.
To elevate the work-from-home experience, low-code can be used to construct a custom dashboard for remote workers to visit each morning. This provides the option to customize the apps they use most: chat, email, shared work drive, and anything else business users require on a daily basis. These dashboards also offer great opportunities to automatically post updated task lists and data sets, all enabled by low-code.
Another great use case for low-code is automating time-consuming yet critical tasks that pull focus from employees away from their core responsibilities—things that might otherwise fall through the cracks, such as expenses management, time clocks, and progress tracking. These tasks are even more important when SMBs are operating remotely when communication and processes break down.
Low-code Benefits for Small Businesses
Most small businesses don’t have (or can’t afford) elaborate, multi-skilled, multi-member IT teams, putting the option to build custom applications out of reach. Low-code changes the game, providing an affordable and relatively simple-to-use tool that creates solutions that scale. It lowers the barrier of access for creating valuable apps that help improve the experiences of both customers and employees, all the while making business goals, from a high level, more attainable.