In recent years, technology has enabled a shift when it comes to the customer experience during a business transaction – no longer are businesses driving the relationship, it is the customer who is now in control. Businesses that fail to embrace new technologies will have even less control of the customer journey and will miss out on future sales.

When we look at how things have changed, it’s clear the technologies that customers and businesses have access to, such as social media, data analytics, the Internet of Things (IoT) etc., have changed how transactions and communication between the two take place. So, in this new world of customer experience, what key shifts must businesses be aware of in order to thrive?

Access granted – the new power to access

The ‘power to access’ has shifted from the enterprise to the consumer in recent years. In the days of ‘walk-ins,’ enterprises had a lot of say in the time and manner of access and controlled this almost entirely, but now channels such as mobile devices and social media mean consumers are choosing when and how. As a result, businesses need to completely rethink how they interact with customers and what to say to them – and ensure they are available when the consumer does want to interact.

"Companies that excel at customer experience grow revenues 4-8% above the market"
Bain & Co

Listen to me, now! The power to be heard

Customers have also become a lot more vocal; just think about how consumers now choose to review businesses and how this has put a huge amount of information about the performance of a business into customers’ hands. Now, brands are being talked about more on social media and specially designed review sites – both positively and negatively. This highlights the importance of managing the online reputation of a business; even small amounts of negative publicity can affect sales. Although digital marketing has already arrived, digital and social customer care is becoming increasingly important. A report published by Nielsen showed that, on average, 47 percent of social media users engaged with brands over social channels – highlighting the need to monitor, analyze and communicate with customers effectively across all channels.

Customer is king – the power to demand

Another key shift centers on the availability of information about both businesses and customers, and how businesses need to treat customers differently as a result. Businesses must also harness the advent of high speed, high volume, and high velocity analytics which will help them to respond more quickly – which is vital given customer expectations for a response to a complaint is already less than an hour on social media. Marketers are calling this a ‘segment of one;’ in short, every consumer is the ‘center of a universe’ and businesses end up treating them accordingly by listening to every word they share.

Internet of things

The new world – the power of the IoT

The rise of IoT is also seeing the physical consumer world merging with the digital one, and data from both are likely to play a pivotal role in the future. Increasing numbers of connected devices – such as home automation systems like Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Echo – are enabling new ways of communicating with manufacturers, brands and service providers. In the future, businesses could be constantly receiving data from these devices and through the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning, know or predict what customers want without them having to communicate with the organization directly. Essentially, businesses will anticipate what a customer needs through the interpretation of data. As a result, businesses must learn how to communicate and create experiences with their customers through devices and communication platforms, rather than directly to the customer.

Today, consumers are already choosing how to control their relationships with businesses, which is forcing organizations to innovate their Customer Experience Management (CEM) approach. Enterprises must start to use new technologies – such as advanced CEM platforms, automation, and advanced analytics, to ensure they can track and communicate with customers – regardless of the channel being used. Those that do will reap the rewards by being able to communicate effectively and even predict future needs or demands from customers – thus ensuring they stay customers rather than leaving for a competitor.

  • This article was originally published in Technology Marketing Corporation (TMCnet)
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