As a private business owner, you have an opportunity to differentiate yourself from your competitors and grow your company. A critical component of growth is to engage with your customers in new ways—the ways they prefer—with the help of technology.
Technology like artificial intelligence (AI) is by no means a silver bullet. But when used strategically, it’s a powerful tool in your arsenal that you can use to provide the right experiences for your customers.
Being digital is about more than just using new and emerging technologies. It’s about new ways of solving problems and enhancing opportunities to differentiate your organization in the marketplace, including creating unique customer experiences. When you create a new, memorable, meaningful experience—one that no one else in your market can offer—you will create your biggest business asset.
So what is that unique experience only you can provide? And is what you’re doing today helping you stay ahead of your customers’ changing behaviours and preferences?
While companies recognize the importance of technology to their future success, most have focused their efforts to date on one-off initiatives, rather than comprehensive and strategically planned ones.
While 52% of Canadian CEOs believe data about customer preferences and needs is critical to making decisions about long-term success, only 2% have comprehensive data in this area. Overcoming this data gap with strategic planning and use of technology can prove to be a major opportunity for your business.
It’s critical to differentiate yourself and provide the value that customers are looking for by knowing them at a granular level. Traditional segmenting is now giving way to more sophisticated customer analysis that draws from a variety of sources, both online and offline.
The true opportunity from the customer data you collect through various touch points lies in then converting that data into insight. This insight can help you enhance the customer experience throughout the sales cycle and in retention.
Strategic decisions are still often based on instinct, but AI can turn large amounts of data into intelligent insight and provide informed recommendations. AI is increasingly transforming service interactions—and leaders know it’s changing all areas of their businesses. In fact, 82% of private-company CEOs agree that AI will significantly change their business within the next five years, a view that’s closely mirrored by Canadian CEOs.
Big data has been a hot topic and is revolutionizing business—and there’s a reason for that. Half of Canadian CEOs say data about customer and client preferences is critical to making long-term decisions—but nearly 30% say what they currently have isn’t enough.
By using big data and turning it into insight, organizations can spot growth opportunities and enhance buyer-facing interactions. For example, sophisticated chatbots can deliver detailed and timely service 24 hours a day and reveal significant customer issues and barriers to purchase. And as language models improve, we’ll see chatbots move from providing simple notifications to participating in conversations and offering personalized recommendations. Companies that use technology to best understand and then deliver what consumers want, how they want it and when they want it can truly offer differentiated customer experiences to grow their business.
You can build further on the analysis you conduct on your customers’ path to purchase and use the insight you gain to expand and tailor your customer relationships. This can give you the ability to meet the evolving needs and preferences of your customers, even in offline interactions. For example, the emotional attributes of your company, consistency in your pricing and personal interactions can be informed by data-driven insights.
Customer relationships are for the long term, and go beyond quantifying their lifetime cost or segmentation, though that’s an important first step. The relationship is a partnership—and beyond transactional selling. From aligning your company culture to enhancing interactions, staying focused on your relationship with customers will set your company apart and set you up for success in the future.
Enabling physical store locations to interact with a mobile device to improve a customer’s shopping experience
Helping field workers stay organized and keep track of client interactions without taking up too much of their time
Using wearables to make a difficult situation such as a car accident more human for the claims adjuster and the customer
Creating an online booking experience that replicates the experience customers have when speaking to a live person
Power and utilities
Anticipating the needs of customers through predictive energy-use modelling and dynamic payment options