Businesses solve customer problems. They deliver services that customers need or provide goods that customers want. Whichever way you slice it, customers are the heart and soul of what an organization aims to achieve.
In today’s digital age, the vast majority of customers find and engage with businesses via technology. So why aren’t more companies reorienting their IT systems to a customer-driven focus? Why aren’t customers the top priority when making IT decisions?
It’s easier than ever before for customers to take their business elsewhere. In most industries, the market is saturated. Consumers can access an almost limitless selection of service providers, brands, and manufacturers in mere seconds.
If a business is to remain competitive, IT must contribute to the customer experience and reflect consumer expectations.
The Importance of Customer-Centricity
Today’s customers are more informed than ever before. Near enough isn’t good enough – they want a differentiated experience from a brand that not only aligns with their own values but also has verified social proof backing the quality of its products.
Customers want to be treated as a person, not just a number. The good news for businesses: Research suggests that shoppers are willing to pay for better service.
For businesses, this means taking a customer-driven approach is important. It ensures you win as much business as possible. Customers are willing to invest time into finding the best possible service. If you don’t deliver a differentiated customer experience, you’ll simply miss out. It gives you an opportunity to not only hold onto your current revenue streams but also expand and grow them.
What a Customer-Driven Organization Looks Like
A customer-driven organization doesn’t start with, say, the engineers’ ideas, the technologies available, or budget restrictions (of course, these factors do come into play eventually). They start with the customer. What is the customer’s pain points? What do they actually value?
The potential for businesses to rethink their strategy is incredible, especially as powerful technologies become both more advanced and more accessible. Advances in IT have enabled relevant and personalized engagement through every step of the purchasing process, and the customer-driven organization recognizes this – and takes action. Mobile, big data and internet of things (IoT) technologies are playing a bigger role in how business gets done.
Mobile e-commerce is growing 300 percent faster than traditional e-commerce. The reality is, if you are not considering your company’s ability to deliver a fantastic mobile experience, you are already in deep water. Reorienting your IT systems to facilitate mobile usability is critical if an organization is to cater to the modern-day consumer’s purchasing habits.
Big data is a big deal. Descriptive, prescriptive, and predictive analytics will provide improved customer experience design and delivery. Analytics tools make it easier than ever before to mine through the colossal amount of existing data and uncover game-changing insights. If a customer drops off mid-purchase, find out what happened. If a customer decides to unsubscribe, what could happen?
Consisting of billions of smart, connected devices, the Internet of Things (IoT) gives just about anything a ‘voice’ through the data it produces, gathers, and distributes. It’s vital for businesses to recognize and harness the power of these new voices, especially as the number of smart devices (or things) per person skyrockets in the coming years.
Customer Experience Tech Trends
Digital experience management platforms – While content management systems still have their place, experienced leaders are looking ahead to the next-gen of digital experience (DX) management platforms. These platforms aim to manage, deliver, and optimize experiences across all digital touchpoints – they organize content, customer data, and core services while unifying commerce, marketing, and service processes.
AI is becoming less artificial – There’s no match for the human brain quite yet, but today’s artificial intelligence (AI) technology is probably both more intelligent and less artificial than you may think. Already, AI has demonstrated its ability to access and synthesize data, focus actions, and model future scenarios. AI can deliver that personalized human touch that customers crave without a human presence at all.
Cybersecurity impacts customer loyalty – If you are looking to reorientate your IT systems for a customer-driven focus, be sure to invest adequate resources into your cybersecurity efforts. Attacks are not only becoming more rampant but also more devastating as the level of sophistication skyrockets. If a malicious actor successfully infiltrates a network and customer data is compromised, businesses can expect your customers to take their business elsewhere. Security is no longer about protecting business-critical data; it’s about customer loyalty.
Embrace APIs – APIs benefit businesses in several ways, allowing them to respond more profitably and intelligently to customer engagement by fostering a more flexible, responsive, and efficient communication process. With an API, companies can create more personalized, richer experiences for customers as the ability to integrate and connect people, data, and content becomes easier.
IT and customer experience go hand in hand. Digital technology is a more significant part of business than ever before. Rapid advancements have given more power to the customer, who is now willing to put in the hard yards to uncover a product or service they deem best. By reimagining IT systems, businesses can create the differentiated experience that is right for a particular target market.
Michael Brenner is a keynote speaker, author and CEO of Marketing Insider Group. Michael has written hundreds of articles on sites such as Forbes, Entrepreneur Magazine, and The Guardian and he speaks at dozens of leadership conferences each year covering topics such as marketing, leadership, technology and business strategy. Follow him @BrennerMichael.
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