What does having 'connected customers' really mean for your business?by
I’m always poking fun at my kids for how addicted they are to their mobile phones - but when I think about my average day, I’m actually doing the same thing. I read news updates on my tablet; answer emails from my mobile phone; I book travel online -- the reality is that we have never been more connected than we are today, and it’s all through our devices.
According to Deloitte research, 76% of UK consumers have access to a smartphone, and 60% have access to a tablet. Increased internet availability, faster connection speeds, and the popularity of mobile devices are all changing the way we live our lives. In fact, according to research conducted by Ofcom, the average UK adult now spends more time online than sleeping!
So it’s probably not a shock to realise that those companies, like Uber, Amazon and Netflix – who have created innovative, personalised experiences that are completely aligned to this hyper-connected age, are succeeding in a big way.
And it’s having a big effect on overall consumer expectations - changing dramatically to encourage each person to believe that a brand or business must win their loyalty - and keep winning it. Whether they’re a consumer or business customer makes no difference; they’re most loyal to the brands that put the customer at the centre of what they do.
I was really happy to read through our recently released State of the Connected Customer Report, because it gives some really great insights into the ways companies can best adapt to achieve the customer-centric approach needed to succeed today.
Here are my three key takeaways from the report:
- Customers expect seamless engagement across channels.
As I said before, both consumers and business buyers are using multiple devices and channels in their purchasing journey. They want the customer service rep on the phone to know about that tweet they posted about the business earlier in the day; and they want the shop assistant to know about their online shopping history as they physically browse the aisle. In fact, approximately 75% of both consumers and business buyers expect companies to provide a consistent experience across all channels – regardless of whether it’s via the website, social media, phone or in person. I believe that creating that consistent view of the customer has never been more important!
- Customers want brands to know them better than they know themselves.
Brands have to create really personalised experiences to keep customers excited and loyal to the company. That means that just being able to swiftly adapt to meet the changing needs of customers isn’t enough. Our research found that 45 percent of consumers and 57% of business buyers say that by 2020 they will switch brands if a company doesn’t actively anticipate their needs. This tells me loud and clear that now is the time to look into what AI and predictive analytics can deliver.
- Effective marketing doesn’t just drive sales, it builds customer loyalty.
As a marketer myself, I noticed how positively personalisation can build connections with a brand. More than 60% of business customers and consumers said personalised offers have a significant impact on their loyalty. This really underscores the importance of ensuring that all campaigns lead customers to a one-to-one engagement. It also speaks to marketing’s importance in supporting the business – effective marketing is as much about fostering happy, loyal customers in the years ahead, as it is about supporting sales in the coming quarter.
While these shifting expectations seem difficult, there are plenty of businesses – and not just born-in-the-cloud disruptors like Uber or Amazon – which offer great examples.
One fantastic example is KONE, the escalator and lift provider. By embracing cloud computing, the company’s service agents and dispatchers, as well as its more than 20,000 field service technicians, have the ability to access to the latest customer information from their mobile devices. In addition, service data coming from KONE's IoT connected equipment can be routed directly to the field technicians, which lets them actually stop any issues in advance - and halt inconvenience to their customers in its tracks!
Putting technology aside, there is one essential ingredient that businesses of all sizes and types need to succeed in this ‘Age of the Customer’. They need to ensure that a customer-first mentality is shared by every single person in the organisation, regardless of department or role. The customer experience is so hugely important now – and I definitely believe that companies will win or lose based on their ability to deliver 1-to-1, contextualised experiences. It’s as simple as that.
Delivering a personal customer journey has become a responsibility shared by all employees, across every department, from the very top to the bottom of the organisation. Let’s make 2017 the year of the truly connected customer!
Guillaume Roques is vce president marketing EMEA at Salesforce.