I was standing in line at Starbucks recently and the woman in front of me ordered a “venti, no fat, sugar-free, extra-hot, cinnamon-peppermint, two pumps, light blend dolce latte…no whip, but please leave room for cream.”
What this represents in the simplest form is that all customers are unique and can’t be treated as equals. We like what we like. I happen to like mochas (don’t judge). And, our likes can change very quickly. To complicate things further, we also have varying personas and roles – sometimes I might be a consumer; at other times, an influencer; and others, simply an observer.
At IBM’s IOD/Business Analytics Forum today, Deepak Advani talked about the end of the average customer, and how the driving force for competitive advantage in the coming years will be customer intimacy.
In other words, organizations need to know their customers so well that they connect with the right customer, at the right time, through the right channel, and with the right message.
In the recent IBM Global CEO Study, 88 percent of respondents said that getting closer to customers was their top priority over the next five years. These leaders have realized that successful organizations are shifting their philosophy away from product leadership and operational excellence, and are laser focused on truly understanding everything they can about their customers in order to keep strong and healthy relationships.
And, organizations now have the tools to better understand customer beliefs, preferences, opinions and behavior by tapping into all of the interconnected streams of data – inside and outside the enterprise walls. The insight culled from all of this data becomes intellectual property. It is what sets organizations apart and makes them more competitive.
The use of predictive analytics technology makes it very easy to establish true intimacy by knowing how customers are likely to behave at a precise moment in time, such as when they walk into a store, surf a website, or engage with a call center.
It is these "moments of truth" that are essential in establishing a true relationship with customers, and directs organizations to deliver an “experience of one.”
This is crucial because the customer experience has changed dramatically in the last five years. Before, a customer used to buy a product, use it, and buy again. Today, however, customers are engaged in the following cycle:
· Research – Online reviews
· Purchase – Multi-channel buying process
· Use – Discussions with other users
· Interact – Call center conversations
· Advocate – Share opinions
To be successful through all of these stages, organizations must create the right evidence-based decision support capabilities to empower frontline workers and create a moment of truth.
For instance, Digital +, part of Sogecable in Spain, is using the power of predictive analytics to completely change the role of the call center. With detailed, profiles of each customer, the technology now proactively direct agents to provide customers with real-time, targeted product upgrades or new services while engaged on the phone.
This alone has improved customer satisfaction, reduced churn by 20 percent, and increased cross-sell campaigns by 5 to 10 percent over outbound campaigns.
Anticipating the appropriate dialogue with customers, organizations can positively affect their view and result in more predictable – and profitable – outcomes.
It’ll be as simple as the cashier instantly recognizing the Starbucks woman and asking, “The usual?”
Let us know if you have other thoughts or opinions or examples on achieving true customer intimacy.