Two big trends for business in 2014 are of course, the digital revolution, but also the increased focus on customer-centrality in this context. Tech and online spaces are influencing the way customers interact with businesses, and as a result expectations about the relationships between the two are changing and are more complex than ever before. As a result, it’s important to keep focus on who the business is engaging with, how, and why, and therefore imperative that digital strategy and capabilities are aligned.
The Social Media Dyad model below highlights some of the ways that this engagement occurs, facilitated by the internet, social media technology, and the many devices that consumers use both in-store and out.
By identifying how online interactions occur, businesses can ensure they are suitably involved, able to build relationships, and strategically poised to engage customers. Essentially, businesses need to become customer centric, and do it ‘digitally’. This has a number of benefits in contrast to traditional non digital methods, particularly from the ease of gathering and analysing data.
Consequently, it allows businesses to better understand, target, and optimally interact with customers. As a result, businesses can improve the overall customer experience, and increase satisfaction and brand equity. This translates into longer term gains from better customer engagement, such as greater customer loyalty, and higher return on marketing investment.
In order to become digitally customer centric, businesses need to be responsive to consumers wants and needs in ways that suit customer technology preferences. The ability for a business to do this rests on three key capabilities;
- Technology, platforms and software
- Expertise to transform data into insights
- Ability to implement findings and remain flexible
Translating these broadly into actions involves:
1. Aligning technology and strategy
- Evaluation of current customer centric strategy
- Determining what information is needed to optimise customer centric processes
- Determining what tools, platforms and software are needed to do so
- Implementation, training and proper use of these systems
2. Analysing the data
- Mapping, tracking and measuring the customer journey and different interaction points
- Compiling different sources of customer data
- Generating insights from the data
3. Making informed interactions
- Leveraging insights to direct how the business and customers engage
- Creating specific and targeted engagements
- Respond to customer wants, needs and preferences
- Tracking the effectiveness of interactions
- Using data to deliver innovative interactions
The largest barriers to implementing an effective digital customer centric strategy relates to financial and human resources. While the technology and processes needed can be identified, there is a trade-off as to how much this will cost for a business to implement (purchase, training, use, maintenance, evaluation, updating) in relation to the ongoing benefits (customer satisfaction, sales, data, brand equity) from improved customer interactions.
As such, it is important that businesses identify the optimal digital strategy with resource capabilities in mind, which allows them to gain maximum benefit from a customer-centric focus.