Voice of the Customer

Customer engagement is one of the biggest differentiators across all industries in today’s consumer-driven landscape. With the increasing need for businesses to utilise data about each customer in order to create a memorable experience, ensuring they have the best technology in place to offer the high standards of customer service expected by today’s consumer should be top of the 2020 board agenda.

In recognition of Get to Know Your Customers Day, nine industry experts share their thoughts and advice with Engage Customer on why understanding your customers is important and how deploying the latest in technology can make the biggest difference.

Going the extra mile to tailor the customer experience

“How many businesses can honestly say that they really know and understand their customers?” asks Jon Lucas, co-director at Hyve Managed Hosting. “And by ‘really understanding’, 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’. ”

Krishna Subramanian, COO at Komprise believes companies should be delivering tailored services to address customer needs: “To do this successfully, a business needs to be able to store its customers’ data efficiently and cost-effectively, and extract relevant knowledge from this data.

“Businesses are now in need of data management solutions that help them understand, successfully manage, and extract value from this overwhelming amount of unstructured data, to keep customers happy and confident in the business storing their data.”

The subscription economy calls for constant engagement

Service level agreements are a great way to support customers and offer them a first-class service whilst improving your relationship with them. Tom Needs, COO at Node4, comments: “For any organisation it’s important to always validate the customer service part of the equation, but this is especially the case from a managed service provider (MSP) perspective.

“One way of doing this is to own the service level agreements (SLAs) and end-to-end infrastructure, because this gives partners and customers control, visibility, and better service levels. However, the most fundamental element is the customer relationship – knowledge of unique needs and preferences comes with constant engagement.”

Gregg Lalle, SVP International Sales at ConnectWise continues: “As an organisation, ConnectWise has been educating our partners – MSPs and VARs – on how we have moved to the CX or ‘as a service’ model and how that is different than the traditional model. At the centre of this premise is that there needs to be constant customer engagement.

“Likewise, our partners need to engage their customers in the same way. They need to view their customer at the heart of every interaction and then measure (KPI) the effectiveness of their efforts.”

With the subscription economy booming, more consumers are turning their backs on traditional ‘one time’ purchases for long term relationships with trusted brands. Martin Taylor, Deputy CEO at Content Guru discusses the need to nurture long term relationships with customers by using customer engagement technology: “Organisations at the forefront of today’s subscription economy rely on sophisticated customer engagement technology, such as AI-driven Natural Language Processing, to ensure they can meet changing customer demands as quickly, smoothly and effectively as possible. Increasingly delivered through the cloud, the importance of these contact centre technologies only grows as customers not only expect an attentive and efficient long-term relationship, but one that can take place seamlessly across every channel.”

Happier employees, happier customers

Anurag Kahol, CTO at Bitglass believes employers need to put in place better security measures for the mobile workforce using BYOD devices. “When it comes to knowing their customers – in other words, their employer’s workforce – IT teams must address a real dilemma – how to strike a balance between the security needs of corporate data and how employees want to use corporate data. Developments in cloud-based security tools have given rise to a new set of mobile security solutions that means encryption of sensitive data can be extended to whichever popular cloud apps their customers are using – be that G Suite, Office 365, Slack or Salesforce, which means that data is secure regardless of what application a user is accessing via their personal device.”

Paul Zuidema, Managing Director EMEA at Ergotron explains that knowing customers is key to business continuity: “The business world is ever-evolving, but one constant that anchors any business is its customer base. Knowing them and anticipating their needs and preferences is key to business continuity. For us, employees working in desk-based, seated office environments are our end-user customers. As experts in designing and producing kinetic work environments, it’s important that we understand how to support their health and wellbeing while they’re at work, and promoting better physical and mental wellbeing through the use of the right ergonomic furniture, in the right kind of work environment. In a similar way, businesses would do well to also regard their employees as a type of internal customer base, providing the appropriate support and working conditions that will ultimately elevate their business bottom line.”

Reaping the insights of intelligent analytics

Advanced analytics are just one way businesses can gain deeper levels of insight about their customers, especially when it comes to security. Nir Polak, CEO at Exabeam, explains: “Profiling individual users enables an organisation to understand in great depth and with deep context exactly who is on the network; what they are doing; whether they should be doing it; and what it means to an organisation’s risk and security posture.”

Liam Butler, AVP at SumTotal adds that analytics can also support business users to predict business outcomes: “The cloud has brought analytics back into the hands of business users, particularly in HR. In the ‘old days’, business analytics tools were shrouded in secrecy and owned by IT and MIS as part of the on-premise ERP system. Analytics are now part of our daily life, being used to enable insightful decision-making and to predict business outcomes.”

It’s evident that no matter the industry you work in, advances in technology can support and help organisations better understand their customers. At the end of the day, it’s all down to companies to put in place the right strategies to improve the customer experience, whether that’s aimed at the end-user or the employer’s staff and this day is no better reminder to put customers back at the top of the agenda.

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