Riding the Digital Era

Majority of marketing folks are very immersed minute details of a campaign and often lose sight of the big picture. Creating unique customer experience is the biggest challenge today for most brands. And with digital media proliferating with consumers in control, marketers are finding it extremely perplexing to work around this.

In order to succeed in the digital era, creating the right customer experience is important. Yet, only a few companies actually put their customers at the centre of all their decision-making processes. In fact, in a study involving over 1040 companies, less than 10 per cent were using customer data for decision-making. Surprised?

For most companies, it appears that customers don’t have a voice. That means if you want to deliver the experience a customer segment is seeking in the digital space, you need to be able to see your own company from the outside-in perspective and use the channels accordingly. Companies should also consider bringing in an expert at designing digital experiences. Studies show that such efforts pay off better in terms of return on investment.

However, it appears that companies find it difficult to get the outside-in perspective for many reasons like culture, costs, and simple ignorance.

While companies collect a lot of data regarding the use and behavioural aspects of customers online, much of the data is not used properly. Not only they do not know what to do about it, but also how it will be used. It is also important for them to be transparent about what they are collecting, why they are collecting it and what they are going to do with it. The biggest thing around data is consumer rights and privacy. While it may be ok to use data to improve services, it is not right if one uses the data for monetary gain like some cellular companies do by selling to marketing agencies for cold calls.

Taking proper feedback not only gets us customer voice, but also a better understanding in order to improve the customer experiences. In the digital space, customer data is flowing in all the time. Much of this feedback is unsolicited as most of the companies get calls to their call centres or via emails if not via the social media. Today, we have a lot of tools and frameworks available to analyse the big data, for both collecting and analysing. In order to succeed in the digital space, companies should indeed be looking at these possibilities and create the right experiences.

It is also important for companies to create unified messaging across all digital platforms. What this implies is that today customers can get connected to the brands in much deeper and wider than before in both real and virtual media. And this is actually creating better opportunities for companies to connect with them in unique ways. In order to get the most out of creating effective digital moments of truth, it is important to create a unified customer experience. This is done through consistent messaging across all channels.

Most companies treat digital media as different and this will not do, as customers do not look at digital media any differently than the real world.

They keep bouncing back and forth between digital to phone to in-store to sales rep and back again.

The other interesting aspect companies need to change it the process and technology based on what customers need, and not otherwise. Most companies buy a technology and demand that customers get adapted to it. In the normal business space too, companies hide behind their processes when a crisis comes up for a customer, denying him the right experience he is seeking.

We have seen a lot of companies putting the technology first and think that customers will keep running to them because of the latest technology.

Instead, they should have asked, “what do we really want to do and how could we really add value into their lives?” As an example, Qatar Airlines blinked when its technology failed to care about customer experience. It offered lower-than- sales-promo- fares post promo period. Customers who bought tickets early assuming the lowest fares turned hostile forever when others got away with better deals post promo.

Finally it is best to ride the front of the digital trends before it becomes commonplace – like riding the waves of a maverick. Finding new ways to connect and engage with customers is critical for delivering better service and therefore gaining success. If you desire to stay relevant you need to figure out ways to integrate new apps into what customers are doing. So search for all the latest trends and quickly become adaptive to these in order to find success faster in the digital era.

The writer spearheads execution and innovation for clients@CustomerLab

M Muneer