Get to Know your Customers Day is a quarterly reminder to businesses that, at the heart of it, they are nothing without the people who buy their products. This is something that has remained consistent throughout the move from local business to global, online corporation, and almost every organisation recognises that they need to find a new and successful way to understand and communicate with their customers in today’s digital world.
However, success is not a given. As Jon Lucas, Director, Hyve Managed Hosting noted: “How many businesses can honestly say that they really know and understand their customers? We’re not talking about an annual customer survey or the occasional check-in – genuinely knowing your customers is about being able to anticipate their needs, solve their problems and help them to succeed.
“Ultimately, any organisation of any size that wants to live by a strong customer service philosophy needs to make a commitment – both financially and culturally – to go the ‘extra mile’. The alternative would be a business that just ‘survives’ despite customer churn, thinks that winning new business is cheaper and easier than keeping customers really happy, and where reputation is ‘nice to have’, rather than a daily imperative.”
For businesses that have acknowledged that reputation is more than a nice to have, Krishna Subramanian, COO of Komprise shared advice for how they can maintain this: “A business needs to be able to store its customer data efficiently and extract relevant knowledge from this data. While this has been relatively straightforward for transactional structured data, it is very difficult with unstructured data (such as videos, genomics files, IOT data etc). Increasingly, the bulk of a business’ customer data is unstructured, and it’s growing rapidly. Businesses now need data management solutions that help them understand, efficiently manage, and extract value from this massive amount of unstructured data.”
Beyond data management, it becomes just as important to verify and enable your customer, as it is to know them, as Rupert Spiegelberg, CEO of IDnow, discussed: “As we do more online, knowing your customers has become more important than ever before, particularly in the banking sector. Digital IDs are becoming the new currency, so companies need an easy, trusted and compliant way of finding out who their customers really are.
“But with diverse, international customer bases, growing regulation and a whole host of other challenges to contend with, doing that is much easier said than done. Online identity verification is a growth market because, from a consumer perspective, it enables customers to ID themselves in a fast, convenient manner on the same device they will use to transact with a particular supplier and from a supplier perspective, it can satisfy local regulation requirements that the potential customer is who they say they are, as well as onboard new customers with ease and speed.”
These techniques for improving customer trust and experience apply to service provider industries just as much as to businesses that sell physical products. Tom Needs, COO at Node4 commented: “From a managed service provider (MSP) perspective, it’s important to always validate the customer service part of the equation. As the managed services market continues to mature, it’s vital that MSPs keep pace with changing customer needs and preferences, matching them with the right technology to champion the kind of exceptional service that helps a customer’s business achieve success.
“For example, owning the service level agreements (SLAs) and end-to-end infrastructure is powerful; it gives partners and customers control, visibility, and better service levels. Probably though the most important fundamental is the customer relationship – constant engagement yields knowledge of unique needs and preferences. If a MSP can act on that knowledge to deliver a superior service that works in line with the objectives of the customer, can anticipate their future needs AND do a first-class job should something go wrong, satisfaction is going to remain high.”
This is a sentiment that Mihir Shah, CEO of StorCentric, Parent Company of Drobo and Nexsan, echoed. He reminded businesses that: “In today’s digital age, many businesses are investing in technology to learn about spending behaviour and trends – all geared at leaning more about the customer. But all too often, businesses make the mistake of ignoring complaints, reviews and emails, trying to bush aside any negativity. Knowing your customer is key to staying ahead in today’s competitive market, if as an organization you are looking to improve and innovate, then embrace customer feedback and really take the time to know your customer.”
Business success in 2019 will rely on ensuring customers receive a consistent, high level of customer experience, which is predicated on businesses knowing each consumer as an individual and being able to understand and engage them in the right way. This can be supported by businesses making more of a commitment to their customers, including using better data management, new digital ID technology, and expanded service level agreements to deliver truly exceptional experiences that inspire the ever-elusive customer loyalty.