How to become a customer-centric digital business

Remember the days when having the best product on the market guaranteed you customers? Or how about when it took years to build a brand? Well, those days are long gone.

Today, quality products and services are no longer the be-all-end-all and new businesses can go from zero-to-hero faster than ever before, thanks to the rise in digital technologies like cloud computing, which underpin much of today’s innovations across every industry. The pace can be daunting to some, but in the end it’s simply a matter of recognising what’s changed and adapting your business to respond accordingly.

Digital technology has changed the customer-business relationship

Although the need to attract, retain, and satisfy customers has not changed (nor will it), how your business goes about accomplishing this goal has changed significantly due to the rise of digital technologies.

There are many pieces of this puzzle that have changed, not the least of which is the fact that customers are now in control. Today’s customers have more choices than ever before, due in large part to the elimination of physical boundaries and the ability of new competitors to enter and transform established markets with unprecedented speed. As a result, these digital savvy customers now demand more (for example, easier and more efficient access to services) to attract and retain their business.

This new dynamic in which customers wield all the power has made the quality of the customer experience your business provides of utmost importance. But beyond an optimised experience along every stage of their journey, customers have now come to expect more personalised interactions that provide value based on their unique needs at any given time.

In order to meet these objectives and succeed in this rapidly changing and highly competitive digital market, your business needs to respond by focusing its technology efforts on cloud solutions that promote intelligence and agility.

Key components of the customer-centric digital business

A lot goes into becoming a truly customer-centric digital business, but two of the most important ingredients are intelligence (to properly understand who your customers are and what they want) and agility (to respond to customer needs and changing market dynamics at pace).

Intelligence

Creating a positive and deeply personalised customer experience requires your organisation to make sense of the monstrous amounts of big data available today. It requires you to make every decision a smart, data-backed decision that’s informed by a 360-degree view of customer interactions and preferences.

The good news is, all of this data is available today, as it’s collected during nearly every action in which your customers participate. That just leaves your business to answer the question of how you will track and make sense of that data in order to make it useful, because in its raw form, it is most certainly not valuable. As such, it’s no surprise that improving business intelligence and analytics is the second highest priority for enterprises worldwide.

Those organisations that excel at this type of intelligence today have found success by integrating relevant data across all of their enterprise systems and tapping advanced cloud technologies to make this data readily available for frontline users, be they salespeople, service agents, or anyone else. By taking this approach, you can empower your users to make informed, real-time predictions about customer needs that will help them satisfy those needs and meet the demands for a personalised experience along the way.

Agility

Increasing agility goes hand in hand with improving intelligence, as your business needs to be agile enough to react to the insights it derives from data in order for that intelligence to make a difference in how you operate and interact with customers.

In this case, agility covers the ability of your business to quickly adapt to changing customer needs and new advancements in technology. This definition puts a lot of responsibility on your IT organisation to be able to scale and react to these changes in a rapid, yet controlled manner.

Fortunately, agility is inherent in today’s cloud solutions: with cloud, you will not only be in a prime position to respond to customer and market needs as they arise, but you will have also laid a solid foundation for continued innovation across all areas of the business.

Start simple, think big

Despite all of the advancements in technology that have changed our world, when it comes to success in any industry, one thing will always remain constant: The need to attract and retain customers by satisfying their needs.

So what does it take in today’s digital world? Knowing your customers well enough that you can anticipate their needs and provide a personalised experience complete with proactive support and offers as well as being agile enough to course-correct at the drop of a coin based on any changes that intelligence uncovers.

Fergus Miskelly, EMEA Cloud Advisory Director, Cloud Sherpas (now part of Accenture)

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