Why being customer centric is so important for your business

27th February 2018, 09:00am
Is it important for businesses today to be “customer centric?” It can sometimes be hard to answer this question from within your business, but taking a virtual swivel to perceive your company and its offerings via the same channels as your customers can help to add some clarity.

Asking yourself a few simple questions is a good place to start. Do you offer transparency in both your pre-purchase and post-purchase process? Do you know your customers’ priorities, their challenges and trends?

Providing a positive experience both before and after the sale can be the difference between a one off sale and a returning customer. According to Oracle, as many as 89% of consumers began doing business with a competitor after a poor customer experience.

The key to delivering a satisfying experience is acquiring a true “Omni channel” capability, i.e. one that delivers a unified customer view, regardless of which product, channel or employee a customer engages with.

That means delivering an identical experience whether the customer visits a branch or store, communicates via email or post, calls the contact centre, chats online or uses your mobile app.

But getting this right isn’t always easy. One of the reasons that many organisations struggle with this today is due to their internal technical limitations and legacy IT systems. Clunky backend systems can reveal themselves during your customer interaction, putting buyers off from coming back a second time. We’ve all experienced a site that just doesn’t work as well as it should.

Another question to ask is, do the people across your business have the same understanding of how to manage a sale or claim, and can they deliver a consistent experience no matter what platform they are working on? Again, this is another area where many businesses struggle.

In many cases these processes are not connected. Digitally-born processes are far faster than paper or Digital Document processes and gaps can be problematic.

Many organisations have turned to conventional capture and OCR solutions to deal with the data that arrives unstructured, in email, PDF or paper.

Although Mark Grimes, Managing Director of Australian content management consultancy Blumark, notes that “Traditional capture systems are great at capturing known and predictable document types such as forms. They create an image, extract values from some pre-defined areas on the form and store it all somewhere.

“But much of the really important information entering an organisation is not on a form but is in a letter, in an email message or in a PDF file. And traditional document capture systems just can’t handle that sort of unstructured data.”

Developing the ability to deal with such content at “Web speed” will help you achieve true digital transformation, as is developing predictive analysis capabilities that will allow you to continuously stay ahead of changing customer needs.

Pascal Matzke, Forrester’s VP Research Director, believes CIOs should try to look beyond just technology in 2018 in order to achieve the digital transformation necessary to become truly customer-centric.

“While some companies may build their own platforms, most will have to learn to deliver over one, regardless of the ownership. CIOs will need to gear up their underlying technologies and supplier relationships in order to meet the new business model.

“CEOs will find ways to replicate the agility of smaller, non-listed companies, going so far as to spin off or divest parts of their business to allow unencumbered focus on their digital ambitions. Change will be the constant companion for the CIO next year and they will need to make use of concepts like Agile, DevOps, and design thinking to enable faster delivery of capabilities across the enterprise.”

Here’s a few more questions to help you better understand whether your organisation needs to address information management challenges prior to beginning your customer centric journey:

  • Do you have functional silos that prevent customer data sharing?
  • Does every department and touch point have the same overarching view of the customer so they can deliver a consistent experience?
  • Do you have the ability to use customer data to predict their future wants or needs?
  • Can you identify opportunities to create products and services for your best customers?
  • Are you able to create highly targeted, highly personalised marketing messages for customers?

Having clear and consistent messages across all channels will help. To do this, the best place to start is by building a streamlined and continuous view of your customer.
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