Guest written by: Deepak Khosla, President – Asia/ANZ, NIIT Technologies
In the digital era, every customer experience is now being redefined. Enterprises are using sophisticated ways to reach consumers, while consumers are exercising greater brand influence using their mobile or social presence. In this era, the customer is the creator and destroyer of brands. A single negative tweet gone viral can mean millions of losses in revenues.
History is also replete with examples of companies where social media fans have created communities of their favorite brands. Unlike traditional businesses, where consumers were more of an afterthought, social media encourages real-time conversations, where adoption is driven by consumers and products are then adapted for business use. According to a recent report by Arabian Marketer, the Middle East comes in second after the US in terms of viewing time on social media, with Saudi Arabia boasting the highest number of mobile YouTube views.
In this era where customer is the king, companies have to deliver their products faster, at a competitive price and of better quality – all backed by superior customer service. Technology has helped in improving this experience and developing a more customer-centric experience. The brand today is the sum of all conversations – be it in the online or physical media. With huge amount of data being generated across mediums, companies need the help of technology to gain insights gleaned from constant measurement and engagement. Technology can help in quickly converting these insights into action.
The digital shift and the impact
In the past decade, there have been a few clear tectonic shifts — desktops giving away to smartphones and communications changing from voice to data. Telecom service providers are seeing a dip in revenue from basic voice services due to apps like WhatsApp and Skype which are preferred by customers to communicate with each other. Content too has changed from static to video to user-driven. Content is now mostly watched on mobile phones, smartphones or on PCs. Digital mediums have also transformed the shopping experience, as more and more customers are shopping online leading to shrinking footfalls in retail stores.
In sectors like banking and insurance, the usage of mobile devices is a huge opportunity as customers can be quickly serviced; tasks such as account opening can be done at a place of the choice of the customer using tablets. The physical branch of a bank is in real danger of going away completely.
Understanding the 3Ps of success
To engage the new age customer, companies must possess intelligence about the customer and apply it to every transaction, experience and interaction. While efficient customer service can be delivered using any channel – physical, online or social – the success of companies will be defined by the ability to understand the 3Ps of customer experience — Participation, Personalization, and Prediction.
Participation: Thanks to social media, customers today are part of the feedback process and play a big role in brand influence. Customers “like” brands and share their influence with their peers. Positive or negative feedback is extremely critical, as a single tweet or Facebook post can cause damages in millions. On the positive side, by connecting with their customers through platforms like social media, companies can revolutionize the way they sell, service, market and innovate.
Personalization: With huge amount of data available at their disposal, marketers are now using analytics to personalize their services or products. Thanks to 3D printing, manufacturers will offer consumers the capability to design their own products. The next few years could see manufacturers and product creator’s move from offering customizable products to personalized products – giving consumers opportunities to design their own products.
Prediction: Once companies have accurate data at their disposal, they can analyze this data and use insights gleaned from this data for accurately predicting the future.
Digitally empowered customers disrupting traditional industries
This is the age of the customer and empowered customers are using their influencing power to disrupt every possible industry. With customers driving businesses, the most successful companies are the ones that are customer-obsessed, and use their insights to deliver the same customer experience across multiple touch-points.
As the late management guru, CK Prahalad, argued, ‘Strategic thinking is not about products, services or businesses; it is about envisioning the future of your industry and then going out to create it’. In this era of consumerism, organizations have to visualize their future and use technology to create it.