Customer and user experience expectations have grown as companies refine and invest in their digital strategies. Understanding customer experience is critical for ensuring a successful small business digital transformation journey. You should be working to prioritize a human-centered customer experience and strategically integrate digital and non-digital operations. Doing so will lead to increased value as you digitize your small business.
This webcast explored effective strategies to elevate customer experience in digital transformation work. Speakers shared practical approaches on how to successfully integrate digital and non-digital parts of your business.
Watch digital experts from Scotiabank discuss:
- How to better connect with your customers digitally.
- How to define a digital customer experience.
- How to integrate non-digital and digital operations.
Speaker 1: Sticks to basketball.
Speaker 9: Do you even have ice in China?
Speaker 10: Women's hockey is just boring. Okay.
Speaker 11: Who wants to watch girls play?
Speaker 12: Go back to where you belong.
Speaker 2: Go back where we belong? This is where we belong.
Leigh Smout: As a result of COVID businesses are realizing that they actually have to manage their workforce virtually. They need to find new customers without being able to go to a trade show. They need to manage disrupted supply chains. RAP has been designed by the Toronto region board of trade to help companies improve their digital maturity during these challenging times.
A participant in the program will have their digital needs assessment done, their DNA. Once we have their DNA, we are able to direct them into the programs that help educate companies, help them create a plan, help them get in touch with the resources that are going to support them as they manage through these challenges.
The program is about long term improvement for businesses, about running your business more efficiently, even after the pandemic, that is going to be a critical thing for any business. And it's in this case, it's going to make all of those businesses stronger.
A business can sign up for the program simply by registering at our website and then we'll get them into that digital needs assessment.
Well, hello folks. Good morning. I hope the feed that you saw had some music in those videos because the one that the panel and I was looking at had a bit of an odd audio component to it. But anyway, hopefully the message got across. I certainly appreciate that Scotiabank approach to hockey for all. And, as somebody who coached hockey for many years with my own kids, and the school team, and public local public teams and so on. It's so great to see more and more diverse participation in hockey.
I want to thank everybody for joining us today. My name's Leigh Smout. I'm president of the World Trade Center, Toronto. Welcome to the latest installment of our RAP webcast series, effective digital transformation for small business. This series is made possible by the support of our Scale Up Institute Toronto, sponsor, Innovate Cities.
Our RAP program sponsors Cisco Designed, Rogers for Business, Scotiabank and Xero, and also partnerships with the board's principal sponsors, The Global mail, Scotiabank and the University of Toronto. Now they were mentioned here twice as sponsors, but I really want to thank our good friends at Scotiabank for the excellence support they've given us to create today's session.
You'll be hearing from some amazing experts from Scotiabank today. So I'm looking forward to getting to that, just some brief housekeeping off the top. If your video is lagging or it freezes, there's another stream that can be accessed by clicking the switch stream button on the right side of your screen, for any other technical issues, you can click request help in the bottom right corner of your screen, and someone will be in touch with you.
So submit questions at any point, please click on the questions tab. And I do recommend ask you to submit them at any point. Don't wait for the Q and A session, but I will be just trying to get to as many questions as possible with our panel at that point, that we're happy to take those questions as soon as you can put them in.
And finally a recording of this webcast will be available at supportbusiness.bot.com. Sorry. Now, just before we dive into today's important discussion, I would like to tell you a bit about the Toronto region board of trades recovery activation program, otherwise known as RAP. You just saw a little bit of a video on it, which may or may not have had musical audio, but I just want to top mention briefly why you should participate.
We're offering a series of programs for Ontario businesses who are looking to emerge from the pandemic even stronger than they were before, and through online workshops, and personalized mentorship sessions with industry experts. RAP has already helped over 1700 Ontario businesses in over 30 industries to adapt digitally, improve business operations and build a reliable path towards future growth.
And if you're wondering how to get started, it's really super easy. Just go to rap.bot.com and take the digital needs assessment, the DNA, it's pretty amazing. It takes about 20 minutes to complete, it assesses the digital maturity of your business, and also how it ranks relative to benchmarks for your industry. So you get a sense of know what you need to do to get up to speed with some of your international and national competitors.
The best part is thanks to the support of our previously mentioned partners. There's no cost at all to participate in any RAP programming for businesses across Ontario. So I really encourage you to get engaged with it by going rap.bot.com. And okay, all the sales pitch is done.
I'm onto our program for the day. And I'd like to introduce our panel of experts that we're going to have with the discussion today. Just before we introduce them, I'm going to put up a quick poll. So if you could please answer this question on screen, that's coming up on your screen. If you have a website supporting your small business, do you know how much traffic you have on your website?
How much daily traffic? It's a really simple question and it's very interesting for us to see whether or not simply yes and no, or my business does not have a website at all. And honestly, it's not, as we start businesses and have so many things to do running companies, most entrepreneurs that I know, and I've been on quite a bit in my career.
We don't always have time to track all of these details, but I think also if you're attending today, you're realizing how critical digital is to business. So hopefully we'll start to see those results a little bit. And we'll give us a bit of a sense for the panel of where you folks are all at as you're joining us today.
And just seeing it popping up a bit, it looks a little hard for me to read on my screen, but significant number of you are yes and no, but everybody has a website so far that's answered anyway, so that's good to know. I actually started something recently and don't even have a website yet, so it happens, but anyway good stuff.
And a great place for us to start in the panel, that'll help the panel a little bit with today's discussion. I'm sure. So getting on with it and introducing them from Scotiabank, everybody from Scotiabank today, starting with Leslie McLean, director of digital and business operations and part of the Scotiabank, digital team that empowers Scotiabank's customers and employees with seamless and secure digital experiences.
With more than 20 years of experience driving organizational change, Leslie has delivered more than 500 million in operational savings to some of the largest corporations in north America. Their expertise spans multi-year technology and business transformation programs, organizational change, new business development and growth as well as enterprise risk and compliance. Leslie oversee strategy and goals for delivering world class business operations at Scotiabank. Welcome Leslie, so nice to have you here today.
Selena Castilla, head of design and product at Scotia digital, passionate about technology and innovation. Selena has over 18 years of experience in delivering customer experiences through design thinking innovation and lean methodologies. At Scotiabank, Selena, envisions and orchestrates the design of digital financial services from an inclusivity perspective, aligning business goals and user needs are the foundations of Selena's vision at work.
Selena is also the regional design director for the Pacific Alliance countries, Mexico, Columbia, Peru, and Chile, plus Scotiabank, Mexico, recognized as a UX expert and certified design sprint facilitator by Google. Selena is also involved with creating strategic design module for the master's program in internet business.
Following her passion for UX, she founded the first UX school in Mexico grid.mx, where she supports, provides expert help to people from different backgrounds to maximize their career opportunities. Welcome Selena. Sorry I stumbled through that.
Selena Castilla: Thank you.
Leigh Smout: Just so many qualifications, I can't read them all. Christy Varicat, welcome. Also, marketing director of business banking with more than 20 years of digital marketing experience. Christy has been a key player in strengthening digital capabilities at Scotiabank recruiting and training specialized in-house teams to drive customer acquisition and growth.
She has led business initiatives internationally, both at the bank and previously at Google and ad tech startups. So passion for small businesses and finding creative ways to connect with entrepreneurs led to the launch of the Scotiabank women initiative digital hub. Welcome Christy. So great to have you here.
So it's obvious that I'm highly out class by this amazing panel, but I'll do my best to keep up on behalf of our participants. And thank you all so much for joining us. It's great to have you here. Let's just dive right into the conversation because it's you that they folks want to hear from over the past year and a half, we all know customer experience has fast become a top priority for businesses.
And 2022 is going to be no different. Customers have come to expect more out of companies and their expectations have grown significantly. As more companies refine their digital strategies and invest in digital communications technologies. I have to say, I have this experience myself, I have a couple of old vintage cars I like to work on once a week.
And I've ordered some parts from this company in England. And in the Amazon age, we expect immediate recognition, and tracking, and people telling us what's happening and shipping the same day and that kind of thing. And it doesn't happen, and three or four days later, I'm looking, when is they going to tell me? And then I get on the phone and talk to, it's like old technology and we just don't expect it anymore.
So today digital transformation, the customer experience go hand in hand. So understanding customer experience is critical for ensuring a successful small business, digital transformation journey. In order to succeed and remain relevant, businesses will have to adopt a digital first approach to operations and customer engagement to meet the ever evolving expectations of their customer and customer like me.
As a business owner, you might be unsure of how you can successfully integrate digital and non-digital parts of your experience to deliver a human centered customer experience. And that's what we're here to talk about today. So our discussion is going to be focused on the connection between digital transformation and customer experience, how small businesses can better connect with their customers digitally and actionable tips, and initiatives for successfully integrating digital and non-digital parts of your business to deliver elevated customer experience.
So Christy, how about if we begin with you, I'm wondering how can businesses better connect with customers digitally? What are the platforms that businesses can use to understand customer intent and their interests?
Christy Varicat: Great. Thanks Leigh. So I think if you're looking at how we can connect, it really starts with listening to customers, so what are they asking for? What are they saying about you? And then finding different ways to respond digitally. And there's really three key areas. The first is around search, my background extensive years at Google, extensive years in search engine marketing. And I just love getting deep into searches.
I'm fascinated by what customers are looking for, so at a high level, I think it's good for businesses to step back and consider what are those key questions that customers have about your product or service. And then how can you create content to answer those questions, both for your website and social. I'm glad to hear that most people have websites and that they seem to have tracking for those websites and are aware how customers are coming on a daily basis.
So with your analytics platform, Google analytics is a top one. You can also set it up to see what people are searching for on your site, what's missing or hidden that they're not finding, and then create that content and better surface that content.
The second area is really about online reviews. So again, Google's a big review site, Yelp, but there's also a lot of niche sites for your industry. So do a quick search to see if there's some of those niche that you should also have a presence on, but a basic thing that everyone should do is go to Google my business, add or claim your business profile, Google my business, it's a free tool for businesses to manage their online presence across Google search and maps and make sure you always update your hours.
So I'm a big coffee drinker. I was very frustrated during closure times when things were open or hours had changed and it wasn't updated. So make sure to keep that updated and read and respond to reviews from customers. I see a lot of businesses soliciting this, particularly in restaurants, they'll be posters up asking for a review on Google or Yelp, also as with services, when you get a receipt or a thank you email, feel free to ask, ask people to review you and then read and respond to those reviews.
And successful businesses have also responded, built new products or features in response to those customer reviews. And then the third area, which is the first area I think for most people is social media. It's really easy for customers to get in contact with you and to tell you exactly what they think about you, your brand, your product or service. So post, ask questions, create pools. You can also look at social monitoring tools like Hootsuite or HubSpot, and there's a ton of them.
Do a search for social monitoring tools, have three or almost three accounts or trials where you can monitor your business hashtags, keywords, competition. You can have alerts, or daily, or weekly dashboards sent to you. And it's all automated. I think it's very challenging, not impossible to do that manually now, and then of course, connect with people. So again, respond to posts or reach out individually to people as needed.
Leigh Smout: Well, that's really interesting Christy. I have to say that simple thing about updating ours, it's so interesting how people have they think these things are static and you throw it up once. Okay, got that done. Move on to all the other things I have to do, but some of this just requires that ongoing monitoring doesn't it?
And the other thing is, I think that's really interesting is that responding to reviews because I felt sometimes I might look at something and see, there might be a bad review, but then that same person might even update their review based on some customer service they got. And they'll say, I wasn't happy with that product, but I'm changing my review because I got this amazing customer service.
And I really recommend working with these folks, they sorted out my problem. So I can't help. Let's see that. Is there, do you think it's, wasn't really going to ask questions yet, but do you think, is it worth sometimes putting, taking reviews and putting them actually on your website? I think some people do that, but they're kind of selective and I tend to think if it's reviews on their website, they're just taking all the great ones and not the bad ones. Should you just leave that to the review system?
Christy Varicat: No, I think that's worthwhile too. We're getting customer testimonials and then, you're right. You can pick and choose, but Google, and Yelp and sites like that are kind of the center for truth that a lot of people will go to, but certainly it helps having additional testimonials and reviews on your side.
Leigh Smout: Sure. Just pull the positive and just treat them as testimonials, as opposed to a ranking or whatever. That's great idea. Okay, Selena, let's turn to you. If you're not digital today, where do you start to define a digital customer experience? I think that's part of the real challenge too, isn't it?
Selena Castilla: Oh, definitely. And I think that when you talk about digital and you think about it, digital it's enormous. It's humongous space, but when you think about digital customer experience, you can use customer to narrow down digital and then build something that it's appealing to your customer. So when you don't have anything and you are looking for a starting point, at least from my perspective, the starting and ending point, it's always the customer.
And, and Christy just mentioned that it's, what is it that customers want and need that I can solve for them, which are those needs that we have. So first you need to figure out, okay, so who is my customer as today? Who are my customers? Where are they? What they are doing? I would say that the second step would be okay, I understand their needs. I think I know a way on how to fulfill them.
How are they doing in this digital world? So I don't have to cover for everything. Maybe they are just in one or two platforms, maybe they are just using, I don't know, WhatsApp, in Latin America is pretty common. So you can be digital by just using WhatsApp in Latin America, if that's what your customer wants, right?
So who's your customer, which is the technology that they are using or the digital channels they feel comfortable interacting with. And finally, there's been in an explosion of new technologies that help you do a lot of things, right? And much, or of those technologies are either very cheap because they are nascent, or they have free versions for you to experiment.
So you can take advantage of those technologies to start piloting some of your ideas and figuring out how to solve for those needs. I can tell you there's enough technology right now for you to have a tech stack of almost free technology, right?
If you know what is really what you want, but the idea is not to taking everything, just to be selective, where is it the place to be, and how do I communicate with my customers? What's the right customer journey that they are feeling or living in this reality. So if we can build for that reality and we can empathize with our customers and their needs, I think that's a very good starting point.
Leigh Smout: That's a really interesting I'm having a website to build myself. I think a lot of us tend to think, well, what is our product and what is our service and how do we provide it? And so on, not necessarily taking the approach of, okay, what does my customer need from this experience, that design experience that you need to, the starting point you need to get it right. So that's really interesting.
Also I'm fascinated because we at World Trade Center, Toronto, we do, obviously aside from scaling, helping companies scale, we're very interested in international trade. And it's one of the things we talk about quite a bit, as we educate people when we're taking into different markets, that idea that you use different technologies in different markets.
And that WhatsApp is such, in Latin America, certainly in Mexico and other places like it is so prevalent to use it in ways that aren't just about keeping in touch with your friends about the, your next golfing date or whatever. So fascinating.
Selena Castilla: Now you can even buy stuff through WhatsApp, so.
Leigh Smout: Is that right? Okay. I'm going to have to look in, I'll have to talk to you offline about all that. That's great. And digital customer experience is really inseparable from that all encompassing customer experience, isn't it. So which includes, of course, in store and other interactions in the physical world to succeed businesses, can't afford to overlook the importance of operational aspects of the customer experience.
So it's not only digital, it's not, everything isn't E-Commerce right now. And so with that in mind, it's time to hear from our final expert. Leslie, can you tell us how do you integrate your non-digital operations with the digital parts of your business?
Leslie MacLean: Thanks Leigh. When I think about integration of non-digital and digital, I think about the concept of meeting customers where they live. In this new normal, safety is on everyone's mind, not just the teams that operate our small businesses, but the customers themselves, when they venture out in the new normal, it's going to be all about making them feel safe.
And when you think about integrating non-digital operations with a digital presence, you think about how those web and mobile experiences are going to interact with your own operational experience, operational sets, pardon me, like inventory, customer service. And small businesses need to recognize the power that they have because digitization alone, won't transform their business in this new normal, their people will.
So as part of your digital space, your digital presence, when you invite customers to visit the brick or mortar store, or to ask customers to think about a service, or a piece of inventory, know that they're going to do their research. So think about telling yours story, telling your customers about your team and how, and who they're going to interact with throughout their journey. Is it only in the digital space?
Is it a customer service experience that is outsourced or a customer service experience provided by your team? They're going to do that kind of research. And the more that you can tell them inside the digital space, the more your team is going to feel really engaged from a non-digital perspective in understanding where the Baton gets passed from a digital presence to a non-digital process or non-digital operational team.
For example, when I see customer, when I see inventory online, as a customer, I want to know more, I don't just want to know the size. I just don't want to know the color. Sometimes I want to know about how it feels. And I really just want to talk to somebody. Chatbots can give businesses really effective support in answering simple questions, but it doesn't eliminate the connection that their team needs to create with the customer.
And small businesses, as you know Leigh, probably when you deal with the local business in your neighborhood, they give you such a personal connection to their business. And they have really spent the time to think about how that interaction is going to happen when the customer finishes their research online and decides to make the trip or reach out to the team.
And those small operations can upscale and downscale operational support using tools like HubSpot, when they're creating their customer service process in a digital space, they can think about when to hand off from an outsourced team or a third party provider to their own specific team to enhance the customer experience.
And when I think about small businesses and the challenges that they face every day today, in that new normal, I hope and encourage them to think about the strengths that they've got within their team, the power that their team, and the specialty that their team brings to the table and how customers are really looking to know that they're in good hands.
And looking to know that they can feel safe with that small business, not only in the ordering or in the purchasing from a digital space, a webpage, or a mobile app, but knowing that when they reach out, they're still going to get that small business attention and that small business feel that they can only get from these amazing businesses that continue to support us in Ontario, in our neighborhoods and close to home.
Leigh Smout: So interesting, we focused so much on over the last two years on helping people digitize their business, especially the purchase side of things, getting an E-commerce on their sites and so on, but you can't say, okay, now I don't have to have that personal interaction and an interesting thing too, is how that relates to all of the other parts of the business that.
So our CEO Jan De Silva, talks a fair bit about a friend who, during the pandemic, she runs a mattress store in a cottage country, and everybody was buying in cottage country and they all needed they all bought these places and they didn't want the mattresses that got left behind or whatever. They're all buying new mattresses. And so she's was able to get set up to be able to sell mattresses without people coming in and sitting on the mattresses, which is kind of a new thing for them.
But then afterwards she's found herself suddenly I've sold mattress and now I've got to make sure they get where they at. The logistics chain has changed and completely I'm phoning because companies to say, hey, why haven't you delivered that mattress to that other customer changed everything about it. So that whole experience customer experience has to be considered.
Leslie MacLean: Absolutely. And you make a good point in about staffing as well. The challenges that small businesses are facing today in finding and keeping staff to support those backend processes such as delivery and supply chain and the like, is so challenging these days.
And I really applaud them, their commitment and their diligence to just keep working at it. And I encourage more of them to reach out to their community, reach out to programs like RAP, to understand what support is out there for them to keep it going strong.
Leigh Smout: I think the amazing thing is RAP's just one digital mainstream. There are many things out there where we're trying to help, and actually we're nimble enough that we can learn from all of these sessions we have, what else is needed and try to adapt and add it to. Thanks. And I appreciate that.
Going back to Christy, we know digital transformation plays a crucial role in enhancing customer experience. So we definitely talked about that. Adopting a digital first approach can be tricky for small businesses who might be resource strapped, so getting at some of these concepts we've been talking about, and also of course have limited expertise or experience in this area. So with limited budgets, what is that starting point? Where do you start investing in the digital marketing side?
Christy Varicat: So with limited budgets, really look at your owned channels. So start with your website, invest in a good website and content strategy that will help you drive organic growth. So most people have probably heard of search engine optimization, SEO. It's really important because it does focus on that long term growth, you're not just spending once and people come and then it really drives long term growth.
And it's just the process behind ensuring that when people search for you and related things that they find your website, they engage with your content and they purchase. Email is another great channel when you're starting out. So just make sure that you adhere to castle or the Canadian anti-spam legislation and get the right consent.
And then as you grow, you can also look at segmenting your base. So important not only to send promotions, but other relevant content that resonates with different segments of your customers. And then it's a great way to engage with both prospects, as well as customers and keep that engagement going and make them repeat customers.
Another key thing is just establishing partnerships. So you can reach out to like-minded people and businesses individually to cross promote, or to do this at scale affiliate marketing is really powerful. So affiliate market is basically a revenue sharing model where you give partners a percentage of the sales that come from their site.
And I think all of the big platforms, WordPress, Shopify have different plugins that connect to platforms that basically manage this on your behalf. So if you're looking at affiliates, all these platforms, you decide what revenue share makes sense for your business. And then you also accept the affiliate partners that align with your brand, and your mission, and your purpose.
But this is a great way, not only to drive sales, but also to get awareness out because as these affiliates are using your banners or your messaging, or talking about your product in a way that's authentic for their community, hopefully then it's a way to reach those new communities and really expand.
And then finally looking at the paid side, paid search and paid social can be really effective with limited budgets because you don't need to commit to tens of thousands of dollars. You can set limited daily budgets and really test and learn and see how it performs, and if it's driving the right engagement and growth for you.
Leigh Smout: And that's search and paid social. I think it really requires some expert support, doesn't it? To make the right decisions about the, how to because if you just try to get in there and figure it out through some Google searches yourself and working through it's pretty challenging. I think you actually need support for that, I would say as a small business.
Christy Varicat: And I've worked with businesses who do it themselves and other businesses who outsource it. And it is super challenging, I do say, I think the platforms have gotten more intuitive and have added more automation. It's not as manual as it was 15 years ago, but it can be challenging.
I volunteer at the AMA, the American marketing association, it's all run by volunteers and we try to engage with students and interns that can sometimes be a good source to really give them the expertise to learn the platforms and then also help your business with growth.
Leigh Smout: Okay. Very interesting. And then the other, just a really quick follow up on affiliate marketing, how do you even approach it? Because I get what it is, but where do you figure out how to choose the path through it?
Christy Varicat: So again, I think it's a process of experimentation and sometimes it is best to start out with maybe more of that, less of the automation and seeing what partnerships that you want to, that you want to extend to individually and then working with them to see, okay, this would make know this makes sense for this partner that I'm working with and build that program out.
So these are the types of assets that work if its banner ads, or providing them with information, or social media assets that they can post and then playing with kind of that revenue model too, what percentage is going to make sense, but a lot of this is test and learn, so I think that's what's great about these platforms is that you can get in for affiliate marketing, there's not a lot of upfront cost. You do have to maintain some of the platform fees, but you can really just start experimenting and see what works for you.
Leigh Smout: Okay, great. So that's helpful. Thank you. So all relationships have of course, an emotional component, and that holds true for the connection between people and businesses, and brands. So right now, customer experience increasingly relies on digital. However, it still needs to be infused with a human touch on that note, Selena, how do you preserve a human customer experience while being digital?
Selena Castilla: Well, I believe that it's understanding first, what we said before, who is our customer, which is the way in which they like to talk, which is their language, their expressions, their illusions, their expectations. And second to that, I think that we need to have a constant contact with our customers. How do we do that? There's a lot of methods in how to do it.
Of course, there's people who specialize on doing them, but I will tell you that people also learned from experience. So what's the best way to do it. Talk to them, talk to your customers, right? When someone comes or buys anything, how do you follow up with that purchase? Do you ask for their opinion? As Christy was saying, if you ask for a review that review can be very revealing, nothing is of revealing as you talking to a person.
Or going with them through the same flow that they are trying to do, being a companion during their customer journey and an observant, but mainly it's about out observation and being a very good listener, right? Trying to really understand what they are saying. And what is behind the words that people is saying, which is their attitude, what are the behaviors that you can observe and put together in order to frame an insight that can help you move towards what they want, right?
And for me, the most important piece with observing customers, either via interviews, or just walking with them in a customer journey is making sure that this is, are you doing this on a regular basis. This is a constant, and with this is you plan for it. When you are doing your strategic planning, you plan to have interactions with your customers. Maybe once a month, maybe once a month is too much for you.
Maybe once every two months with five, six customers. So you continuously gather information. So if customers are shifting their behavior, if the expectations have changed, like what we have seen in the last 18 months, you are aware of where the shift is going and how to respond to that shift while still meeting your customer needs. So again, it's customer, and observing, and connecting with your customer, and understanding them, as you mentioned at an emotional level, not only a behavioral one.
Leigh Smout: Amazing. So if I understand correctly, you're talking about kind of a selective engagement with customers, as opposed to kind of a broad poll or just everybody. If you're selling little widgets and you're selling billions of them, you're not, you can't talk to everybody you're talking about going out and finding, maybe you see some behavioral change in an important customer or whatever, and sort of track trying to have a chat with them about what that means, or?
Selena Castilla: I think that Christy and myself, we are two different sides of the same coin because one is what you're saying, quantity amount of things, along amount of person is doing one thing, but what does it really mean? Then you narrow it down and you go and observe with more granularity, what, which me, maybe the cause is, of that behavior or that reaction, and then you act upon them. So it's a mix between the two.
Leigh Smout: Okay, great. Same as when you started in your earlier comments about starting with the customer, even to build the website and so on, it's just still part of that whole custom relationship you have to have with your customer and it's ongoing. So your point is just don't stop, keep it happening part of your current ongoing planning. That makes a great deal of sense, okay, thanks so much for that.
And so before we get to customer questions, one more time, if you don't mind, Leslie, I'll come back to you before we get to our listener questions that is, as you build your business, want to find inspiration from within your and other industries. And so the right groups and platforms can be an invaluable resource to help boost your digital transformation journey or to be able to discuss solutions with like-minded individuals potentially.
So I think it came up earlier about sort of knowing what's happening within your industry. What's working for others perhaps, but networking can play such a major role in entrepreneurship. Just generally, I certainly know this. So do you have any tips for small business owners to find those like-minded entrepreneurs who are also digitizing their businesses on this journey?
Leslie MacLean: Absolutely. So I, myself was a small business owner before I joined Scotiabank for years and finding that sense of community and connecting with those like-minded individuals gave you not only that sense of belonging, but it helped you to realize that you're not alone, that everybody's having challenges, that everybody needs help.
And everyone is so willing to share their support, and their ideas, and further foster that sense of community. What I see here in Ontario, not only with the Toronto regional board of trade with the RAP program, there's so many small business community networks out there, social media can help you track them down. Search for your local business improvement area.
We've got a thriving one here in my neighborhood in [inaudible 00:36:23] West Village that is constantly offering events and keeping the local businesses connected. There's advisory centers, you brought up digital main street. There's also smallbizcentre.ca with so many different event webinars and opportunities for you to join organizations, go to meetups and just talk to people.
I was also really fascinated by how much Eventbrite had to offer, just as a way to find everyone's events from the smallest being given by a local business who wanted to invite the other entrepreneurs in her neighborhood to a meetup to just talk about challenges, and talk about solutions in a post COVID world, but Eventbrite and even Facebook found so much on Facebook, and still too, to this day.
You can always find small business networks, businesses that are like your own, reach out and chat. You'd be amazed how many people are willing to chat, not only about the celebrations, but also about how to face those challenges. One in particular stood out for me was the Central Ontario small business network. When I found them on Facebook, I was really impressed with the amount of active chatter that was going back and forth along their page and through the community.
So for me, it's really inspiring to see the small businesses, helping each other, and to see them linking each other to information, resources, and just sharing and celebrating not only the good things that are happening, but celebrating them, finding solutions. So in that context applies to you Leigh and the organization that's running programs like RAP because those are the things that I think are going to bring people together.
Most recently, for me, in one of the RAP sessions that we participated in, met a couple of small business owners who are really working from a room in their home to make their business thrive in this day and age. And they were really comforted by the stories of the other businesses on the line, the other questions that were coming up. And I think it really helped to address the fear that a lot of small businesses have, that they're alone.
And I'm really proud of the work and the teams that we have at Scotiabank in the advice plus space, try and say that five times fast, who work every day with small business owners in helping them realize not only their financial goals, but connecting them to the right people to find answers for their business problems.
Leigh Smout: I can so relate to it. And I appreciate your comments about RAP. Generally at the World Trade Center, our whole mandate is help Canadian and in particular Toronto region, but we also have national programming. So help Canadian businesses grow through both trade and just being able to scale up. And of course, the last two years, the focus has been digital, but it's not everything.
And RAP has been amazing in the 1700 companies have come through, some have come through more programming than others. But very often what we hear from them is that connection to other entrepreneurs, is what the most they had a plan in their hands to digitize and everything, but they still appreciated more the fact that they connected with other entrepreneurs, heard their stories recognized as you said, they're not alone.
Not necessarily that they're not alone in their room or wherever they might be. And there's lots of people around, they still don't feel so alone in their journey, [crosstalk 00:39:47] it's very difficult.
Leslie MacLean: Exactly.
Leigh Smout: And I have to say, it's always been the case for all of our programs that the interaction between people has been one of their favorite parts of it. And including when we take people on missions to other places, when we take them to some exotic place like Shanghai and we come back and they say, the best thing I did was meet Sarah, she's got this amazing business.
And so it's quite true. And I think it's something people should realize. It's so easy to be in a solitude, get out there and attend some of those things you talk about.
Leslie MacLean: That's right. Join a meetup, join an organization, talk to people, reach out. It's always so fulfilling.
Leigh Smout: Absolutely. I'm starting to get some questions from the audience. I thought maybe we could skip to something here. I haven't had a chance really to look at it yet. So this will be really live because I've been too engaged. I should have been also multitasking, but I'm not very good at it. But so I'll go to that.
But I do want to just reiterate for everybody, please throw in any other questions, if you still have a question, having heard this interesting things from our panel, we'll do our best to, it can be as specific as you like and do our best to get to them.
So let's, I'm just going to read it live, digital visitors seem to want to remain anonymous. How do you convert prospects to customers? That is such an interesting question. So I'll throw it out there, jump in anybody, please, Selena. Go for it.
Selena Castilla: Well that's a very difficult question, right? And it relates to my current role. Now my job is to make sure that a prospect becomes a customer. So I would say again, know what people want, that's the first and make sure that you can offer that to them. But the second one, is a narrative that you're using to sell the thing, which is the storytelling behind the piece that you are trying the people to purchase that will connect with them.
And I will leave it there so Christy can follow through it. But I guess that the biggest piece is how do you connect with them in order to make sure that the value that they are looking for, they see it before becoming a customer.
Christy Varicat: And I totally agree with Selena, so I would just add that what's that value that you can give to them that's worth their information, right? If you need, if you want to know more about them. So on the B2B side, I get targeted for B2B all the time where to get white papers, I have to fill in a lot of information, but if it's worth it, if its good content, then I will do that and I'll share that information.
But as we're moving kind of towards this cookie list world as well, where we are going to have less information about people who are coming to their site, I think it's important to have some sort of prospect strategy and maybe it is engaging getting people to sign up for a newsletter, engaging with them that way. And really to Selena's point getting more information from them, but by providing that value.
Leigh Smout: Okay. That makes a lot of sense. I, Christy, maybe I can just follow up because there is a question from the audience that specifically says this is for Christy. So how do you make decisions on whether to internally manage versus outsource digital marketing work? And that's something that I know we have struggled with, so?
Christy Varicat: And when I look at a search platform now, I completely appreciate that it's very complex. I feel I can go in and figure out platforms pretty quickly, but that's been my experience. So working with small businesses is that's one of the pain points is really, how am I going to learn all these platforms and manage them, and log to I'm small business owners are super strapped for time.
So I think it is looking at on certain platforms, is there a way to automate it? So you can set automation roles according to you're looking for a certain cost per acquisition. You're looking for a certain goal and the platform can help automate it, but I think there are certain platforms and functions are integral to your business, then there's options for outsourcing.
There's a lot of great companies that are available both here in Canada, as well as looking internationally now with all of the remote support that's available.
Leigh Smout: Okay. I'm going to lay off my comments because we have good questions. I just want to get to them and I'll throw them out to you. And I think this is another good follow up, what's the best way to introduce our businesses? So this is somebody asking about their businesses, their digital transformation to clients who aren't used to operating in a digital world. Anybody?
Leslie MacLean: That's a really good question. When you think about the customers who don't spend a lot of time on the mobile apps, for whatever reason, or don't spend a lot of time online and you're trying to interest them in that digital space. What I've seen some small businesses do is introduce their digital space within their brick and mortar store, a small monitor on the counter, on the wall that provides customers a view to what their digital presence looks like, if they weren't there.
I really enjoy when, there's one business that I frequent here in my neighborhood. And when I go in, I see the webpage up on the screen and it's running the images of their inventory and it's clothing. And they're running images that describe various pieces of inventory that are hot today, or look how great this is.
And it really gives me it inspiration to say, I know I could find it here in the store, but if I don't have time, I know now that their webpage is probably going to show me everything that's here. And it was a way of just pulling me into, when you leave, you can still connect with us. And when you've got a customer, who's just dipping their toe into the digital for whatever reason, maybe it's like my father just trying out mobile apps and web pages for the first time, for him it's about simplicity.
And as Selena, said, so rightly it's about creating that connection and telling him why it's so important for him to just stay and read for another couple of seconds, just take a look at one more image. You're going to thank me when you do. And I think that's a great way to get customers to really respond well to that digital presence.
Leigh Smout: I'm actually glad you did go to, and I'm not going to say your father's elderly because I'm sure he's not at all, but my father, my father-in-law who is 91 needs that experience. He needs to be able to buy things online now, he needs to purchase things that needs to be a really easy experience.
And I'd say some of the companies he buys from are making that and it does go back to things that Selena, mentioned earlier, looking at your customer and their journey, building it for them. And I think that's a really important thing. Couple of really quick things here. And then I have a really important question. So what is the name again of that small business [inaudible 00:46:59]ca site?
Leslie MacLean: Smallbusiness.ca, oh, there's so many.
Leigh Smout: One was mentioned. I think it was you last?
Leslie MacLean: There's sbcontario.ca it's a great one that I mentioned. And smallbizcentre.ca biz is spelled B-I-Z, C-E-N-T-R-E smallbizcentre.ca.
Leigh Smout: That's Canadian spelling of centre. That's always good. Good. All right. Good. Hopefully that got that. And then there was another question. Can you please repeat the names of the apps and programs that can use to track customer activity on our website? Was that Christy?
Leslie MacLean: Christy, I think you'd mentioned a couple.
Leigh Smout: Its Christy.
Christy Varicat: Yes. So Google analytics, make sure, search for Google my business because there's a lot of information that you can get from that. I think I mentioned Hootsuite as well as HubSpot for social media monitoring, but again, search for top social media monitoring for small business, your industry and you can get much more relevant results.
Leigh Smout: Okay. And I'm going to ask really, I know we're couple minutes, I'm ask really quick question and then one that I think it's important. And so is it, and this is, not that this isn't important, but is it better to make sure that I'm using all digital platforms to connect with customers or focus my time on doing one or two well? A very practical question from an entrepreneur.
Selena Castilla: If I was to answer the second is the right one. Be assertive and focus, right? That's much better. That would be my suggestion.
Christy Varicat: I agree. If you have a shell account, but you're not really using it's not very helpful for people. So do things well.
Leigh Smout: Okay. So I think you have agreement there from the panel on that one listener. Okay. And the last one you guys are not the Scotiabank small business banking people. You're all in the tech side of things. And we're grateful for that. This question though is important for Scotiabank. What are the best resources available to help finance a traditional business going digital?
I'm going to throw one in before I throw it to you. So you've got a second to figure out what your answer is. Canada digital adoption program just announced in the last budget has four billion dollars to support Canadian businesses going digital, 2.6 billion of that is interest free or low interest loans from the business development bank of Canada. If you want one of those, you need to have a plan to get that plan.
There's another 1.4 billion being, going out in some small business loans. We're hoping that they will come around to seeing that they should actually provide some training like we do because we can help you create a great plan, that you can then take to BDC and get some financing to help you do your digital transformation to actually implementation part of it.
So that's just one resource. It's a big resource that's out there and take advantage of it, please, everybody. So CDAP, Canada Digital Adoption Program at innovation science and whatever they're called now, used to be and economic development. But, and now I'm back to the panel for this is the last one guys, anything you can throw at them.
Christy Varicat: So definitely connect with your small business advisor to build a plan. But I would also like to give a shout out to the Scotia bank women initiative, if you are a women, led women owned business, it's a great program that provides a lot of education around access to capital.
And there's a lot of organizations like that are back to the hockey spot at the beginning, really hoping to increase inclusivity and diversity. So look for those organizations too. There's a lot of opportunities right now for different communities.
Leslie MacLean: And just add to that, just head to scotiabank.com, click on small business and advice plus, you'll find phone numbers to call, resources to review, and you'll be able to go through that page to connect to that small business advisor.
Leigh Smout: Amazing well, and echoing that I'll just mention the recovery activation program had, as I mentioned, 1700 plus companies gone through it, 50, I think it's something like 56% we're tracking all the time, but our women led or owned businesses. So we're always interested in seeing that we'd love to see those high numbers and then significantly huge numbers of them are other underrepresented groups.
So please keep taking advantage of these things and let us help in whatever way we can. Leslie, Selena and Christy, I just can't thank you so much for such an insightful conversation and especially for taking questions from the audience, which you don't have the time to prepare for, but you just get them thrown at you. Fantastic job all of you, before we sign off, I just want to remind everybody, about go out and do that DNA.
The digital needs assessment, you'll get a nice little report on your business, on your digital material time against an industry benchmark. You can also take it again a little while later after doing some programming or doing some integration or what have you. And you'll be able to see how you're improving and how you're getting closer to that national and international standard.
It takes 20 minutes, it's really worth it. Please just go to rap.bot.com and from there, there's lots of programs if you're interested in other things, any upcoming webcast or webinars or anything like it, you can join through the supportbusiness.bot.com and select webinars and videos. We have this on bot.com. Isn't that amazing that somehow we have that? Anyway, that's really all the time we have today. And I just want to thank you all for joining us. And again, I thank my panel so much. I hope to see you all soon.
Leslie MacLean: It's been a pleasure, thank you.
Christy Varicat: Thank you so much.
Selena Castilla: Thank you everyone. Bye.
Leslie MacLean: Thank you.