Having recently held a stand at Silicon Milkroundabout, the largest tech jobs fair in Europe, it hit me just how significant a position technology now holds in businesses across all industries, from retailers like ASOS to broadcasters like the BBC.
However, when it comes to ensuring all this tech actually holds the customer as the focal point, it is difficult to know in which direction to go in the face of thousands of vendors offering variations of the same software that all promise the same thing. Technology is a wonderful thing, but with so many shiny new toys to play with the fundamental strategy can end up being muddled – the tech is, after all, a means to an end to a more customer-centric approach.
A customer-centric approach focuses on improving customer experience in order to drive profit and gain competitive advantage. In an evolving digital age where customer experience is predicted to overtake price completely as the key competitive differentiator by 2020, it is, therefore, more important than ever that organisations ensure their technological strategy is as customer-centric as possible.
Here we share three tips as to how you can improve customer experience by bettering your use of technology for more customer-centricity:
Don’t underestimate the power of customer insight
In 2013 Amazon announced that it planned to become the Earth’s most customer-centric company. The strategy clearly worked with the company gracing the top spot in the National Retail Federation Customer’s Choice Awards 2016 and profits breaking records quarter by quarter. Patrick Gauthier, VP of external payments at Amazon, stated their strategy starts with insight.
Utilising customer data is a phrase very much in vogue at the moment, however, in reality most companies are failing to unlock the value and insight from the information they hold, despite the ever-increasing number of available technologies. Simply collecting data does not help organisations get closer to their customers; this only results in the increasing number of pools of siloed data.
Andy Haywood, COO at N Brown, stated that, for them ‘the big breakthrough will be a single customer view of the customer and having the data in one place’. Haywood recognises that insight is only garnered when companies leverage the data they hold rather than just sitting on it. Utilising this insight allows organisations to provide more personalised experiences to customers, resulting in increased revenue and business growth.
Keep an eye out for the competition
In a recent piece of research, Richard Warner, CIO of LV=, commented that ‘the bar in customer services is not set by other insurance companies, but by other experiences customers have on the web’. This is of particular concern for industries where, perhaps, customer-centricity has not been at the forefront of their digital strategies. Where retailers and media outlets are known to be more customer-focused due to the very nature of their industry, financial services organisations are behind the curve in comparison. Leaders within insurance agree that digitisation of services and disruptive aggregators have added further stress to market competition, with customers’ expectations becoming increasingly demanding. People want convenience, flexibility and personalisation, regardless of what service or product you are offering.
Competition comes from all directions. When creating a more customer-centric approach, consider how other industries have improved their use of technology to get closer to their customers and become leaders in their fields. Do not underestimate how much influence they wield on your customer’s expectations.
It’s not enough to expect to effectively engage with your customers with a remote, hands-off approach. Customer-centricity is a two-way street. Organisations must be willing to evolve their strategy, to engage with their customers through two-way communication and not sit behind a protective wall of software. Organisations who have tailored their technical strategy accordingly, are the ones to reap the rewards that a customer-centric approach can offer.
Topping eDigitalResearch’s latest eRetail Benchmark thanks to their outstanding digital customer experience, ASOS is one organisation that successfully demonstrates this. Their #AsSeenOnMe campaign allows customers to share Instagram photos of them wearing their purchases to the ASOS website. Similarly, Lenovo used social media as a way to engage with their customers and to stay on top of trends, such as colour preferences for laptops. Both organisations demonstrate that technology can improve the personalised customer experience, opening up a dialogue with their customers to better understand their wants and needs. In order to stay ahead of the curve, it’s about getting your customers to engage with you directly, to talk about the brand publicly.
A successful customer-centric approach relies on organisations being willing to evolve and adapt depending on the demands and expectations of their customer and the only way in which a company can achieve this is if they understand their customer. According to Forrester Research, 49% of global decision makers place improving the use of technology within their customer strategies as a high priority. Customer-centricity is the future, and an effective technology strategy is the stepping stone to realising this goal.
By Georgia Dawson, marketing executive at Amido
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