One of the great advantages of the fourth industrial revolution has been the digitization of consumption. Through their actions, consumers are launching signals that companies can detect, collect and analyze. Some of them are totally explicit (like the feedback of a customer in a satisfaction survey, or their comments on social networks) and others are not so much, but they are equally valuable (an abandoned cart during the purchase process). That footprint left by the client is pure gold for companies and allows us to feed a business strategy that truly places the customer in the center.
We can say that the consumer has become a kind of guru for the company that will show us the path we have to follow. The consumer is aware of this power and not only requires that we offer the best product or service, but also wants the experience we provide to be as satisfactory, coherent and personalized as possible.
The price is no longer the determining factor that was in the purchase decision, but in that process involved a variety of elements. Even companies that champion price leadership, such as operators low cost, whether they are from the food, travel or telecommunications sectors … they are aware that the customer experience is the great generator of recurrence and loyalty, and they incorporate it into their strategy and operational model.
The experience must begin by fulfilling the promise to the customer and be excellent at certain times of our interactions with him. We have to know it perfectly, studying the trace it leaves in its different digital interactions (Internet, social networks, email …) and also its mark on the physical world (point of sale, customer service center …). Being able to collect that information and analyze it from an integral perspective is vital for the future of business.
For the equation to be perfect, it is not enough just to attract the buyer and build loyalty, you also have to know the business situation and how buyers influence it. It is necessary to know at all times the state of the production, the distribution, the supply of services and even to be able to predict if we will be able to respond to a demand that the client's part is ahead of us that will increase in a specific period of time.
It would be logical to think that this integration of information already occurs in companies, but it is not as real as it seems. Often the data is isolated and it is not possible to access it because the applications come from different manufacturers and can not interact or talk to each other, so that the information can not be integrated. It is essential to finish with those silos and the future is to work with solutions that allow integrating the front and the back office and with open platforms that make it possible to exchange data between different solutions, regardless of who the manufacturer is.
It is necessary to go one step further towards excellence in the relationship with consumers and to be able to develop "intelligent" customer experience models. The footprint is a source of key information (which should be conveniently suited to the client's wishes and regulation) and the starting point to move towards a data-driven business model. Applying analytical models, artificial intelligence solutions and cognitive tools, companies will be able to fulfill their "promise to the client" and create unique, differentiating and personalized experiences.
Some pioneering companies are already doing this: that the dependent "recognizes us" at the point of sale and can make recommendations based on our previous purchases and patterns of behavior is a clearly superior customer experience. Or that, by calling a customer service center, the agent that serves us can access specific knowledge to assist us and provide us with recommendations and personalized alternatives, it is also a differentiating model.
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In an environment of hypercompetition in virtually all sectors of activity, with a foreseeable slowdown in consumption, it is more important than ever that the customer is the heart of the business. Attracting consumers and increasing their loyalty so that they continue to consume our products will require a greater effort from companies, which should optimize their commercial strategies and guide them to provide the best consumer experience. In addition, they must adapt the production to the demand and to achieve it so that it has the least possible impact for the business, they must do it in advance, be able to predict it.
We are talking about companies can become smart and adapt and move forward in a simpler way to any setback or change of cycle. The technology that allows it already exists. Customers who demand it too. There are 46 million consumers out there looking forward to their care and more than 3 million companies willing to do so.
Rafael Brugnini He is CEO of SAP Spain