The key for any successful business endeavour has always been understanding your customers. But gone are the days of good old fashioned face-to-face customer service, the days where you knew – almost – all your customers, their family members, and personal preferences.
Today, if you pause for a moment and look at your customers, and try to understand them, you’ll notice that things have changed significantly. Digital technology is transforming the way they live and work at an ever-in- creasing pace. The modern consumer has the world at their fingertips on their smart phones, and traditional customer services are no longer enough, as they are bombarded by a constant stream of competitor offers online, ever-changing Tik-Tok trends and the latest and greatest advice from influencers. Consequently, customers now strive for convenience at anything, anytime and anywhere to bring them simplicity and assurance to support navigating in this fast-paced world where no one ever stops.
So how can you understand your customers? The good news is that as human customer contact diminishes the digital touch points of a customer have increased significantly. And whenever there is a digital contact, there is data! Several big tech companies have proved time-afer-time, that data is the leading driver of understanding your customer – and thus business success. How big a success comes down to how well you are able to leverage the insights from this ever-increasing amount of data.
The modern consumer has the world at their fingertips on their smart phones, and traditional customer services are no longer enough, as they are bombarded by a constant stream of competitor offers online, ever-changing Tik-Tok trends and the latest and greatest advice from influencers.
Fishing for tuna
In his book “Data Strategy: How To Profit From A World Of Big Data, Analytics And Artificial Intelligence” Bernard Marr compares the challenge of understanding and adapting to your customers’ needs to deliver what is most convenient for them with the analogy of fishing for tuna. Originally a hit-and-miss occupation where boats would go out, with little more information to work with than what spots they’d had success with in the past. As they went through a digital transformation; learning to predict the weather by meteorology, track their position by GPS, detect fishes through sonar, satellites and sensors in the sea – their ability to find and catch fish improved. So, if you’re fishing for tuna commercially, you have to keep
If you don’t want to be “out-fished” by your competition there are a couple of things you need to consider investing in. First of all, to ensure that all your teams have the most complete and up-to-data available consider introducing a data lakehouse like data management architecture, which can combine all your data sources; both internal, such as point-of-sales transactions, loyalty schemes etc. but also external like weather, demographic or attitudinal data.
Secondly, making your data available to a predictive engine based on artificial intelligence allows you to forecast your customer’s behaviour. This can then be utilised for everything from optimising product prices in real-time at levels that we’ll be confident that will, for example, maintain our market shares to creating personalised experiences through micro-moments, making sure customers are met with offers exactly at the right time and right place where their needs materialise. One thing to keep in mind in this step, is that evenAI itself is a data driven technology, a successful AI is business driven. AI is a means to achieve business cases that beforehand was deemed almost magic.
A transition to AI takes time
Finally, a transition to AI doesn’t happen overnight. Going back to the tuna example, you need to be able take advantage of the cutting-edge technology to be successful. In order to anchor AI strategically into your organisation in a way that can be measured on the bottom line it’s key to create a symbiosis between humans and machines i.e. building an “AI-Augmented Workforce”. On one hand it’s about boosting the abilities and skillsets of your employees through AI-enabled solutions, leveraging their jobs from tactical to strategical, giving them the capability to understand their customers and predict any behavioural reactions in real-time. On the other hand, it’s about having business to understand the potential of AI and how to embrace it in business cases to strengthen your value proposition to the customers. If you can accomplish this, then you’ve lifted AI from a strategical decision to an operational tool.
All of this is a process. But a process starts with a decision! And there are companies out there, ourselves included, ready to hold your hand though such a change ensuring it’s a success.
Remember, even as customers create more and more data and technology changes faster than ever, one thing remains the same: The customer still comes first!