Why you need to look at customers with a 360° view

Our world is being redefined in various ways by the Fourth Industrial Revolution: We are connected at all times and regardless of location, companies are increasingly becoming drivers and thus platforms of change, and at the same time our forms of work are also changing. New skills and requirements are in demand, and many new opportunities are also emerging.

Companies today need to be able to offer their customers connected and personalized experiences. They must therefore work with a platform that aggregates customer insights from the entire company and makes them available to employees. After all, only with a 360° understanding of customer needs can companies gain an edge over the competition today.

People are at the center of all these changes. And so, more than ever, companies must focus on their customers, get to know them, offer personalized experiences, but also be ready to connect with them – when, where and how the customer wants.

Today, connected technologies can be leveraged for customer success. Companies that understand their customers’ needs can keep up with the competition and stay relevant – and most importantly, they will manage to keep their customers happy. But how does a company get ready for this new world?

Customers want to be connected with companies

First and foremost, companies need to understand that customers want to be connected to brands. A new study by Salesforce reveals that for 70% of customers, whether a brand or company provides them with a connected, personalized experience and demonstrates an understanding of their buying behavior and product usage, for example, is critical to their purchase.

Customers want a consistent experience when they engage with companies – both when interacting with a service provider and when purchasing a new product. However, companies often fail in their attempt to provide a truly seamless shopping experience: Whether it’s a support representative who doesn’t have visibility into the customer’s purchase history, an email marketing offer for a product purchased just hours earlier, or a service representative who instructs the customer to request additional assistance through a separate channel because they don’t have all the relevant information at their fingertips.

Too many silos spoil the buying experience

As frustrating as it may be for the customer, it is even more annoying for the company: These silos mean that, for example, a customer service representative in a physical store and a customer service representative only see the customer in a fragmented and personalized way, and do not have access to all existing (and highly relevant) customer information. Critical information that enables a complete customer profile is typically spread across multiple systems within an organization, which inevitably leads to disconnects and almost always prevents a seamless experience.

One of the biggest problems with this is that traditional methods of unifying customer data and feeding it back into engagement platforms and applications require a tremendous amount of IT resources. This complicates customizations and updates to deliver new personalized experiences to customers.

These connected customer experiences must span across all channels and departments in an organization. For effectiveness, all critical customer information should be shared and made available end-to-end, at least across marketing, commerce, sales, and service.

Data provides a 360° view of the customer

Amazon offers a well-known example of good connected and cross-channel shopping experiences: The company recommends products to customers both online and in the mobile app. After ordering a product, customers receive emails and text messages confirming their orders and containing all important shipping information as well as suggestions for other similar products. Problem cases can be easily reported and when contact is made, the employee already has all the important information needed to solve the problem. As a result, the company has virtually dissolved the boundaries between retail, marketing and customer service.

Yet many traditional businesses still struggle to create these types of experiences. Companies need a new way to create and manage connected customer experiences so that the right people can get the right information at the right time and bring it to customer engagement.

To do this, companies need to develop a unified view of the customer and, if necessary, work with specialized technology partners. With the right tools, the various data sources can be securely connected and customer data properly aligned. With this unification, customer data is always up to date and can be viewed by any employee at any time, regardless of location. The data can be used in a unified view on the desktop or on the mobile app by all employees to make intelligent recommendations.

We live in a world where the customer is always right. For this reason, companies can no longer afford not to be one hundred percent aligned with their customers. Companies need to offer connected and personalized experiences and work with a platform that aggregates customer insights from across the organization and makes them available to employees. After all, only with a 360° understanding of what customers want can companies stay ahead of the competition today.

Guntram Friede, Head of Marketing Switzerland bei Salesforce, verfügt über langjährige Erfahrung im strategischen und operativen B2B und B2C Marketing. Mit der vierten industriellen Revolution und der weitreichenden Digitalisierung einhergehend, durchbricht er die Barrieren des konventionellen Marketings und setzt erfolgreich auf langfristige Strategien mit kurzfristiger Messbarkeit, zuletzt als Teil des Führungsteam bei Salesforce in der Schweiz.

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