Leveraging digital and data to create a customer-centric organization
- Posted on January 7, 2015
Previously, I wrote about the concept of customer centricity vs. customer focus and noted some key differences in how companies behave when they truly become customer-centric. A customer-centric approach can be a competitive differentiator against those who offer less compelling and immersive experiences.
With all the recent talk about digital business transformation and customer experiences, how does the transformation to a digital world effect the way we think about customer centricity? Let’s look at several concepts driven by digital and what that means to be customer-centric.
Mastering Physical to Digital Integration
As a customer, few experiences are 100% digital. After all, we live in a world of physical things and services. As a result, my own customer experience with most companies is a mix of digital and physical transactions, which must be done seamlessly to keep me happy.
Take for example a recent experience purchasing Sony noise-cancelling headphones with an online retailer. I interacted with the retailers website starting with my phone (fortunately the website was optimized for phone use), then I finished my research on my laptop. I created the order through their website so everything was pretty digital so far. That order created a whole set of back office fulfillment actions, which eventually landed in a warehouse where a person fulfilled my order and packaged it up for delivery. Now we are in the physical mode. The package was eventually delivered to my house by UPS; they tracked the package along the entire route (physical and digital). I received a delivery confirmation via email so we are back to digital again. The key here is that that being customer-centric means having the ability to deliver an immersive and connected experience across your systems, information, people and things seamlessly between the digital and physical world.
Differentiating with Data
A recent study by Avanade on the new customer journey cited that 61% of customers say third-party information is more valuable than information from the selling organization. Customers are doing their research and moving well down the purchase decision path before even talking to anyone at the company they intend to buy from. This is not just a B2C phenomenon but highly prevalent in the B2B world. Why is that the case? One major reason is the widespread availability of data in forms that are useful to the customer.
I recently purchased a vehicle online for the first time. What I learned was that I had a tremendous amount of useful data available to me to make a good decision. I found comparative reports on the best small SUV’s with makes and models that suited me best. I searched online for vehicles and found several available within 100 miles. The best websites were from dealers with extensive information on vehicles. For example, over 40 photos of the vehicle inside and out, a full Carfax history and a complete list of all packages and add-ons. After narrowing things down, I made one call to the dealer and got the maintenance records, negotiated a price, and purchased!
What made the difference was the data available in a way that was useful, and consumable, for my specific situation. Being customer-centric means recognizing that your next customer will likely talk to your company well into the buying cycle as I did. I didn’t want to be sold to. Give customers the data they need to make good decisions and that business practice becomes the basis of differentiating customer experiences.