9 guiding principles for using digital to drive a customer centric business model

9 guiding principles for using digital to drive a customer centric business model

By Grant Pattison, Senior Manager, Marketing & Sales Technology, IAG
Twitter: @grant_pattison, LinkedIn: In/grantpattison
Thankfully, the frequency of which I’ve heard the term “digital disruption” has died down over the last few months. However, a slowdown in buzz-terms has had no impact on the speed I see businesses trying to use digital technology to keep customers and prospects engaged with their brand. So much so, these businesses are placing the evolution of their existing business models on the top of their strategic priority list, ensuring it will be the main driver of their future investment plans for the foreseeable future.

Living in Australia, we make our own luck and have done so since the first indigenous Australians inhabited our lands 50,000 years ago. Since then, a lot has changed – particularly from a business perspective and we’re now living in an age of connection focused on leveraging informal communities and ecosystems, rather than having command and control structures – web and mobile work rather than assembly line manufacturing – and social movements and relationships rather than hard labour.

Today, businesses are more nimble – using digital technology to accelerate growth by penetrating target market segments further than they've ever been able to. Social media as an example is enabling businesses to engage with customers and prospects at different points in the customer journey. From creating awareness, generating demand and driving conversion to delighting customers and creating advocacy. Using social has become part of our DNA.

To run a successful social media campaign, it is imperative to recognise it as part your business model rather than an independent system. Not only can businesses use this avenue to engage customers for sales but they can also save tons of money and time on marketing and customer service costs. Despite the multitude of social channels available (i.e. Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter etc) it is important to consider aggregating these different channels through a support tool that monitors a variety of activities like sentiment analysis, product or service ideas, audience segmentation and more.

Digital technology has made it easier to remove the friction points customers have with your business, replacing them with processes that enable a more seamless, straight-through transaction path agnostic of the engagement medium. A focus on reporting and analytics around the customer journey can put key data-driven insights in the hands of the decision makers in your business enabling them to take the necessary actions to optimise this customer journey in real-time. Sometimes there are thousands of touch points and events that need to be monitored; however out-of-the box web analytics and customer experience visual replay solutions can provide KPI focused visual dashboards to give your renewed digital customer focus the kick-start it needs.

However, without the ability to mine and process these huge chunks of data, they become practically useless. But, with a little finesse and common sense, the smart use of digital technology can transform your business. Check out some of these 9 guiding principles and benefits for using digital technology to drive your customer centric business model:

1. Digital is helping to breakdown the affordability barrier. In developing countries, you can get a computer for less than $30 which is supporting an innovation boom throughout Asia and parts of Africa. In Israel, almost every child is given the opportunity to learn how to code, which has seen Tel-Aviv become one of the hottest cities for start-ups globally.

2. The customer and digital transformation agenda needs to be driven from the top. If your MD or CEO is on board and speaks about putting the customer and digital at the heart of everything you do, this will go a long way to accelerating the changes that may be required at your business. David Thodey was a great example of this while he was CEO at Telstra.

3. Social media is your best source of real-time information. Ever wonder how CNN is always first on the ground when an event occurs? Twitter data and other public datasets are fuelling social media command centres and the drive a first mover advantage in the competitive broadcasting industry. Brings new meaning to the notion of leveraging the crowd for early-warning systems and risk management.

4. We’ve moved on from the “customer is always right”. Through processes such as human centred design and design thinking, we now are actively trying to understand what customer’s desire through a position of empathy and listening. Turn this feedback into action and in turn create more customer advocates and relevant propositions for your business.

5. The greatest ideas are more often than not outside of your organisation. It’s a strange thought, but the solution to your number 1 business problem is likely walking around in the head of someone in a different organisation, different country or a different industry. Find the right set of fresh eyes to look at the problems you're trying to solve and you might be able to finally crack that nut that’s been keeping you awake at night.

6. Have a single purpose and goal for your business. One of the easiest ways to create internal business alignment is through simple and easy to understand goal setting. If the most important thing to your business is customer satisfaction, then define what method you’re going to use to score yourself on this, set a baseline and an improvement target, communicate to all employees that this is the single most important goal and align their bonus remuneration. Easier said than done right?

7. Over communicating can come with its disadvantages. It’s imperative for every leader in your organisation to understand your business vision and be empowered to make decisions that support it. The number of meetings happening in an organisation can be directly correlated with that organisations productivity velocity. Often the need for more meetings comes from a lack of clarity on the businesses vision or autonomy to make decisions without needing regular approval and check points.

8. Try and have one view of the customer. While having a 360-degree view of the customer (another corporate buzz term) is often seen as a silver bullet or panacea, it’s important to set time aside to think about your strategy for Customer Relationship Management (CRM), quality data collection and what your business sources of truth are. A simple place to start is making sure all your customer feedback is recorded and distributed to those within your business that can take swift action to fix.

9. The connection of everyday objects to one another will drive the next wave of digital innovation. But given all the objects that we surround ourselves with, how do we know where to start? Gartner, one of the world's leading IT research and advisory companies forecasts that there will 6.4 billion connected things in use worldwide in 2016, up 30 percent from 2015 and we’ve reach 20.8 billion by 2020. Furthermore, in 2016, 5.5 million new things will get connected every day. Wow – how can your business capitalise on this?

Please feel free share this article with your network and let us know how your business is using digital to drive a customer centric business model.

About the Author

Grant Pattison is the Senior Manager, Marketing & Sales Technology @ CGU Insurance’s parent company, IAG. Grant is responsible for establishing and driving the enablement vision for marketing & sales through the lens of our Customers & Partners experience.

Grant is an industry leader and has been facilitating and delivering valued outcomes for CGU customers, partners and employees for almost 15 years.
Twitter: @grant_pattison
LinkedIn: In/grantpattison