Are you prepared to deal with the Changing Customer?
Attracting today’s customer is a challenge for small and medium-sized companies. Rapid technological changes such as mobile devices and online tools combined with pervasive connectivity have enabled individuals to become ‘highly-informed’ buyers. Consequent to which, buyers are no longer dependent on one avenue for product/service information. With a click of the mouse or flick of the thumb on the smart phone, buyers can access detailed specs, reviews and pricing to seek better value for their money.
Empowered by comprehensive information gained through different mediums, customers have acquired complete control over the buying process. Result - They expect the purchase experience to match the same comfort and quickness of the information-gathering experience.
In the words of an industry expert – ‘’It won’t be wrong to say that people today have rewritten the rule of contacting, interacting and transacting with businesses. Thanks to the digital empowerment (think: expansion of online media and mobile devices), customers just have to click a button to find out about a product, check its review by others and buy it online.’’
‘’ Around the world, customers are fast moving from product/service awareness – to - research – to - taking action in a far shorter time than ever before.’’
And it is the impact of this trend that you have IBM proclaiming -
Online shopping in the United States to grow from 178.5 million in 2011 to 201.1 million by 201
Connectedness of customers
In this new era called – ‘Age of the Customer’, consumers have donned the role of influencers. So now when you have a customer sharing his/her experience about a brand over social media, thousands are bound to form their opinion accordingly. Consequently, a customer’s social network has become an important influence on brand perception.
Explaining this context elaborately, a leading digital marketing executive has stated – ‘’Today, it’s much easy to connect with a circle of like-minded consumers through varied platforms such as forums, blogs and videos. And the influence of these online discussions gets more substantiated when you have studies observing 12 percent of the U.S. population (37 million customers) referring to social media before making a purchase.’’
Maturity of customer expectations
Customers demand to be wooed by personalized experience/promotions, custom assortment of products and most importantly, the right to be heard. In short, they want to execute control over the overall buying experience. So whether it is the demand of aggressive discounts or the opportunity to provide feedback - businesses are expected to respond to customer needs on the customers’ terms itself.
And not to forget that in a global marketplace, customer satisfaction also involves businesses serving them in their language of choice.
Demand for transparency
In comparison to the earlier times, customers are more aware of their rights when engaging with companies. Hence, now they demand control over their personal data which the company has acquired from them. This is precisely why data security has become an issue of great concern now. Customers are also finicky about the medium through which they are contacted i.e. by e-mail, fax and live agents etc.
Challenge of controlling the brand experience across multiple platforms
As mentioned earlier, customers are using online tools to engage and disengage with the company according to their own time and location. As a result – today, customer map has become a series of moments–
- Awareness of a new product or service
- Investigative process
- Purchasing process
These moments are separated by days, weeks, or months. With customer map on a constant fluctuation (long or short varying from customer to customer), opportunity time frame to influence the potential buyers has decreased.
According to a sales executive – ‘’the new-age customer has leveled the playing field among competitors. Consequently, businesses face the eternal challenge of how to remain the most relevant to the customer. Cost alone is no longer the determining factor now. Companies are now required to provide a brand experience strong enough to earn repeat business.’’
How ConvergeHub helps having 360 degree view of a customer
With the present situation in mind, it only becomes obligatory for businesses to change the way they operate and compete. To meet the elevated personal expectations of the new, smarter customer, companies need to look beyond basic marketing and selling strategy. They need the fundamental key to address the massive shifts in the relationship between customer and business. And this can be possible only through implementation of ConvergeHub CRM – Enterprise Customer Relationship Management Tool.
ConvergeHub CRM provides a 360 degree view of a customer, enabling business managers to anticipate, and respond quickly and effectively to their customers’ needs. Using the real-time data and analysis tools, they can decide the best contact methods to employ to improve service levels and satisfy customers. In short ConvergeHub CRM acts as a ‘Business Growth Engine’ that helps in the understanding of who the customers are and what they want to deliver consistent customer experience – the most powerful competitive differentiator in this age to build brand loyalty over time.
Patricia is a full time CRM consultant at ConvergeHub and part-time blogger. She has earned herself quite a fame as a specialist and market expert in CRM software. In the last five year she has worked with various companies as CRM consultant to help them move their businesses to cloud. Her expertise lies in offering cloud CRM consultation, CRM customization and integration solutions to small enterprises. For last one she is engaged in building ConvergeHub, cloud-based CRM solution for SMBs, as a consultant.Follow her at Twitter: @jones_converge