An island community of 100 people has one doctor. Two doors down from the doctor lives the baker. A further walk down the street lives the barber and so on.
The community is close-knit, and the doctor often welcomes the baker into her home to keep tabs on his chronic chest pain. She knows his family, his worries and a great deal about his situation. She can give him completely bespoke, intimate care attuned to his needs. This is the benefit of a closely paired one-provider-one-customer relationship.
These days, most people aren’t served this way. The single provider is often a multinational corporation with hundreds of thousands of employees and the customer lives alongside millions of others in a complex world bustling with all manner of competitors vying for position.
So, how can an organisation serve a customer with the same degree of intimacy as the doctor in our example?
The answer is connectivity. Not just connecting with the customer but connecting the various parts of an organisation so it acts in unison to provide a seamless experience. That means having the likes of marketing, which knows every detail about the customer, share insights with product or service development, which can make sure your offer is relevant to customers, and ensuring everyone talks to the sales and digital teams as they’re the ones delivering to customers.
For the doctor, this connected way of managing customer relationships comes naturally through her eyes, brain and hands. But for the organisation, it takes the structured application of technology. Carefully managing customer relationships is nothing new (remember hand-written customer records like Rolodex?) but the latest technology is making it more sophisticated.
Are you ready for Customer 4.0 revolution?
Before taking the leap into upgrading your tech, though, think about how you can help your customers do what they want by thinking about how you connect your organisation’s vision, decisions and actions. What do you need to know about your customers? How will that inform your decisions? And how will you act on those decisions to better engage with customers?
Connecting your organisation’s vision will take rich and varied data on customers’ behaviours and characteristics from multiple sources. Processing that creates meaningful and dynamic views of the customer. And a system that consolidates them into a single, undisputed organisation-wide picture of the customer.
We worked with Rabobank to build a single view of their customers by bringing together disparate data sources, such as online interactions, branch visits and calls to the contact centre. We then used artificial intelligence to ensure this one view was meaningful. This has generated new insights for the bank and smoothed the customer journey.
Connecting decisions means integrating the picture of the customer with other information, such as changes in the market or the status of operations. Analysing this integrated information to understand the customer and derive insights. Deciding on a joined-up course of action in response to the insights. And referring to historic activity.
Working with the Irish Health Service Executive, we combined insights into patients with knowledge of hospitals from clinical teams to devise a more efficient emergency care system. This meant bringing together all areas of a hospital and the national body to agree an integrated approach to improving patient care. This joined-up decision has cut waiting times by an hour and found savings of €4 million in just one hospital.
Ensuring your organisation’s actions are connected will mean coordinating to ensure a seamless experience for the customer and listeningso you learn from ineffective actions and adjust them quickly.
At Veolia Water Technologies, we used a deep understanding of customer objectives to devise a long list of potential improvements across the business. We then tested the most impactful ideas with real users to see what would deliver the best results for customers. This system of starting with small tests and scaling what customer liked best saw two new digital initiatives roll out.
Embarking on, or even exploring, customer technology can be complex and daunting. There’s no easy answer but by planning technology investments around an organisation-wide approach, you can quickly see improvements that customers value. There are, of course, many systems at work within your organisation, but what better place to start than with your customer?