Get to know your customer: from reputational management, to boosting sales, and improving security.
Whether a business is selling a product or service, it is aiming to fulfil a demand in the market, and at is heart is the buyer. Businesses that can identify with the customer and create a relationship in turn receive more sales. This is why organisations invest each year in marketing, brand awareness and advertising - using these tools to increase visibility and connect with the consumer. As we move towards a more technology driven world, we are seeing this relationship evolve, for example many consumers now shop online, so businesses are investing in new tools that can track data driven insights; such as the highest spending shopping days, website traffic and the most popular product or service. So whether we are looking at foot traffic in the shops, or customers that shop online, each one is unique and integral to company success.
Get to Know your Customer Day reminds organisations of this, however while many businesses start with great intentions, and think about each customer, when sales are going well, it can be easy to forget that each experience counts.
Speaking to several organisations that explain the importance of this, we look at why customers experience is importance, how it can impact sales, and what best practices we should be implementing both in today’s physical and online world.
Taking the time to improve customer experience might sound basic, but many organisations can get swept up with other priorities. This day offers a stark reminder, which Jon Lucas, Director of Hyve Manged Hosting explains is needed, “How many businesses can honestly say that they really know and understand their customers? And by ‘really understanding’, we’re not talking about an annual customer survey or the occasional check-in – genuinely knowing your customers is about being able to anticipate their needs, solve their problems and help them to succeed. Obvious? Perhaps, but for just about every business, taking it seriously comes down to a conscious choice about how important customers are.”
Likewise, Mihir Shah, CEO of StorCentric, Parent Company of Drobo and Nexsan noted, “Customers are at heart of most businesses and pivotal to company success; improving loyalty, service and customer experience can ultimately boost the company’s bottom line.”
Alongside customer recognition, and understanding the value of service and reputation, it’s important to take steps to actively improve. Lucas explained, “Ultimately, any organisation of any size that wants to live by a strong customer service philosophy needs to make a commitment – both financially and culturally – to go the ‘extra mile’. The alternative would be a business that just ‘survives’ despite customer churn, thinks that winning new business is cheaper and easier than keeping customers really happy, and where reputation is ‘nice to have’, rather than a daily imperative.”
The majority of organisations are making a financial commitment in some form, whether this is working with consultants to develop their sales brand, or investing in behind the scenes technology – but it still takes a personal touch somewhere down the line. Businesses need to act on the information they receive. Shah added, “In today’s digital age, many businesses are investing in technology to learn about spending behaviour and trends – all geared at leaning more about the customer. But all too often, businesses make the mistake of ignoring complaints, reviews and emails, trying to bush aside any negativity. Knowing your customer is key to staying ahead in today’s competitive market, if as an organisation you are looking to improve and innovate, then embrace customer feedback and really take the time to know your customer.”
Krishna Subramanian, COO of Komprise noted, “Everyone knows customers are the lifeblood of any business. Organisations are trying to better understand their customers and efficiently deliver tailored services that meet each customer's unique needs.”
Data can provide a unique insight that allows organisations to understand this, Subramanian continued, “To do this, a business needs to be able to store its customer data efficiently and extract relevant knowledge from this data. While this has been relatively straightforward for transactional structured data, it is very difficult with unstructured data (such as videos, genomics files, IOT data etc). Increasingly, the bulk of a business' customer data is unstructured, and its growing rapidly. Businesses now need data management solutions that help them understand, efficiently manage, and extract value from this massive amount of unstructured data.”
Tom Needs, COO at Node4 also looked at how each customer is unique and the importance of understanding this, “From a managed service provider (MSP) perspective, it’s important to always validate the customer service part of the equation. As the managed services market continues to mature, it’s vital that MSPs keep pace with changing customer needs and preferences, matching them with the right technology to champion the kind of exceptional service that helps a customer’s business achieve success.”
“For example, owning the service level agreements (SLAs) and end-to-end infrastructure is powerful; it gives partners and customers control, visibility, and better service levels. Probably though the most important fundamental is the customer relationship – constant engagement yields knowledge of unique needs and preferences. If a MSP can act on that knowledge to deliver a superior service that works in line with the objectives of the customer, can anticipate their future needs AND do a first-class job should something go wrong, satisfaction is going to remain high.”
Understanding each customer not only allows organisations to improve sales, but it can also fundamentally improve security in today’s connected world. Rupert Spiegelberg, CEO of IDnow explained, “As we do more online, knowing your customers has become more important than ever before, particularly in the banking sector. Digital IDs are becoming the new currency, so companies need an easy, trusted and compliant way of finding out who their customers really are.
"But with diverse, international customer bases, growing regulation and a whole host of other challenges to contend with, doing that is much easier said than done. Online identity verification is a growth market because, from a consumer perspective, it enables customers to ID themselves in a fast, convenient manner on the same device they will use to transact with a particular supplier and from a supplier perspective, it can satisfy local regulation requirements that the potential customer is who they say they are, as well as onboard new customers with ease and speed.”
"In short, knowing your customer technology is building consumer trust and helping make the connected world a safer place."