We live in a fast paced, competitive, digital world. Customers have access to everything they need at their fingertips. If they’re not happy with a product, service, or the overall experience a company provides, there’s little stopping them from finding one that does.
So how does an organisation gain a competitive edge to keep their current customers, while also gaining more? For organisations to be successful they need to be customer centric. And to be customer centric, you need to be data centric.
Customers have high expectations
Customer expectations are at an all-time high. Forward thinking organisations have created a culture focused around the customer’s needs and a commitment to delivering true customer value. This has set the standard other organisations are held to. Those that don’t focus on how they can add value to their customers lose out to those who do.
To meet these expectations you need to become customer centric. This means taking the customer’s wants, needs and expectations into consideration across the whole organisation. How you develop products, your marketing strategy, and even business operations all need to centre around adding value to the customer and making their lives a little bit easier.
Unfortunately, there is no ‘one size fits all’ model. A customer centric model for one business won’t necessarily work for another. But there is one thing they all have in common: data.
How does data play into customer centricity?
Amazon, Netflix and Google all have their extensive use of data to thank for their success. Amazon uses customer data to create a seamless buying journey, incorporating suggestions to add value throughout. Netflix recommends programmes or movies based on viewer behaviour, while Google continuously gathers search data to improve their search engine results, making it easier for people to find what they need.
However, you don’t need to be at the scale of these organisations to add value.
For example: a common barrier for online apparel shopping is not being sure of your size and having to return an item that doesn’t fit. Some eCommerce stores try to combat this by improving return and exchange process. But what works better is helping customers find the right size in the first place. Recently I noticed Icebreaker had integrated a tool called ‘FitFinder’ onto their product pages. The tool cross-referenced data I provided with personal, purchase and return data from other shoppers ‘just like me’. With this information the tool was able to recommend the size most likely to fit. This simple use of data added significant value to the shopping experience, lessened this common pain point, and made me much more confident about my purchase.
The key to customer centricity is understanding your customer, their pain points and coming up with a solution – all of which can be achieved by analysing and using your data.
So, what data analytics tactics can you employ to become more customer centric?
Sentiment analysis Understanding how your customers think and feel about your organisation will help you identify what you’re doing well and where you can improve. This can take the form of regular customer feedback through NPS or surveys, customer service records, or even social listening. Applying text analysis to free form text can then identify trends, and sentiment towards your organisation and how these might be changing.
Predictive analytics Knowing how a customer is likely to act can help you pre-empt or prevent that behaviour. The most common uses of predictive analytics are churn models and recommendation engines. Both use data to identify trends; either behaviours that indicate someone is likely to churn or what other product someone might buy. When a customer exhibits these behaviours you can trigger relevant programmes or communications.
Single view of customer Many organisations suffer from siloed data. To be truly customer centric however you need a single view of customer. To achieve this, all your data needs to be integrated into a single source of truth. From here you get an overall picture of how your customers interact with your organisation and their experience at each touchpoint. Having this single source of truth, or centralised database, also enables organisations to deliver 1:1 engagement and create a truly seamless, omni-channel experience.
Use your data to drive action
These insights mean nothing if they're not used to deliver great experiences for your customer. Being data driven means using data insights to drive the decisions your organisation makes, rather than relying on assumptions or gut feel.
Keep in mind that customer behaviour and expectations change. Return to your data to understand your customer’s motivations, pain points and needs throughout their time with you. Then you can continue to deliver unique experiences to build loyalty and ensure relevance in a fast-changing world.
When you think about it, there’s often not a lot that makes one product better than another. A lot of customer choice comes down to their personal preferences, needs, and, most importantly, the value a product or service adds to their lives. Competition is no longer based on who can offer the best price or the more ‘superior’ product. It’s around who provides the best experience for the customer throughout their purchasing journey.
To gain or keep a competitive edge, understand what these factors are for your customer and make sure you deliver on them.