Struggling in your business? Rethink customers!

Emergence of Customer 3.0 – Digital Omnivore in multimedia environment

Face to Face, Print media, Physical Posts, Telephone and Telegraph were the keys ways to communicate with the customers post Industrialization for a substantial period until 1990s when telecommunication redefined the way to interact with customers. Initially, the interactions essentially revolved around marketing & selling with minimal or at worse no interactions around customer service and support. With limited choices in hand during that era, customer was at mercy of businesses. Telecom drastically changed the way businesses engage with the customers and then focus was more on powered selling and differentiating themselves with customer service in the competitive markets as customers had choices to shift to another business. Customers were now easily and quickly approachable on mobile phones on few clicks on the dial pad of customer facing representative’s phone.

Graph 1.1 – Average Number of Portable Devices owned per respondent, by Developed country

Source: Deloitte Global Mobile Consumer Survey, Developed Markets, May-July 2013

Graph 1.2 – Average Number of Portable Devices owned per respondent, by Developing country

Source: Deloitte Global Mobile Consumer Survey, Developing Markets, May-July 2013

Recently with the breakthrough in disruptive technologies – Mobility & Social Media; businesses observed a paradigm shift which has changed the landscape drastically in the favor of customers for good. Customers are powered 24X7 on their devices – PCs, Laptops, Smartphones, Tablets, Netbooks, eReader (refer to 1.1, 1.2) across multimedia channels – SMS, Social Media, Chat, IM, Email, Web to engage with businesses in unimaginable ways even 3-4 years ago. As per survey done by ContactBabel, although voice call still dominates, around 3 in 10 transactions are coming from alternative sources, making voice-only call centers a thing of the past.

Source – US businesses Survey by Contact Babel 2013

Estimated cost for live agent ($7.76 per interaction session) pegs on a significantly higher side as compared to IVR ($0.98 per interaction session), Email ($3.37 per interaction session), Web Chat ($3.52 per interaction session) channels. The key is to provide consistent experience across the integrated multichannel environment so that the customer has the flexibility to contact and the customer facing representative is proactive in responding with all the necessary information about the customer and the related past interactions.

Another survey conducted by edigital research in UK in 2013 shows that actual use of contact channels is lower than consumer expectations in all cases. Customers expect to have a range of different contact methods available to them.

Source: UK Survey, edigital research, 2013

According to Micah Solomon, author of the award-winning book High-Tech, High-Touch Customer Service, there are six major trends transforming the way customers expect to be treated – Instant Gratification, Value Based buying, Greening, Timelessness, Empowerment, Self Service Desire. Businesses have come back to the square one in understanding, employing and then tapping these new channels to engage customers for every step in the Customer Engagement Lifecycle to match up to customer’s expectations.

As per survey done by Economist Intelligence Unit, 55% of respondents agree that customer service is now a universal responsibility within their organizations — meaning that customer interactions are no longer limited to sales, marketing, public relations and call centers but organizations also need to integrate the multimedia interactions and monitor & analyze conversations in the whole mix wherever they take place.

Rethinking Customer Value

Amidst this pro-customer technology revolution, new customer value metrics have come into the picture – customer referrals, frequency of customer’s social network activity around referrals and product discussion, customer social network size. According to Economist Intelligence Unit survey respondents, revenue (65%), customer profitability (59%) and customer lifetime value (38%) are key data points. Other less frequently cited metrics include frequency of purchase, share of wallet, and the number of customer referrals that come from the customer. Few respondents say that their company tracks the size of a customer’s social network (6%), the frequency of a customer’s referral to the company on social networks or the number of “retweets” that mention their companies. Customer Value around these newly defined metrics is humongous. Companies are now looking for co-creation with the customer, growing customer base, strategize marketing efforts, determine levels of service, risk assessment, leverage customer in marketing, and so on. The question is how to tap this customer value. Integrated, intelligent and personalized customer interaction across the lifecycle gives a perfect opportunity to businesses.

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