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The Digital Customer is one of the bi-products that came from the dawn of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), Blockchain and many other emerging technologies. Now that we have a more digitally inclined customer, what do organizations have to do in order to pivot their services and offering towards catering to this customer?
Organizations have to be digitally inclined in order to transform themselves for the sake of remaining relevant to their new customers. Providing experiences that are memorable has become of paramount importance; the Experience Economy places the customer at the heart of the innovation driven within organizations. The recipe for delivering success is defined by embracing data, experience, and intelligence across all functions of the organization.
Applications, AI, Machine Learning (ML), Automation and Distributed Ledgers with built-in consensus mechanisms allow for a sale between parties to happen quicker and for customers to get exactly what they want, when they want it. Furthermore, these new digital technologies have led to a change in customer expectations, creating a new kind of modern buyer which many refer to as a digital customer—always connected and aware of what technology can enable.
With the dawn of “real-time CX”, and the Experience Economy, we are living in a world where marketing is disappearing, sales is throwing out the playbook, commerce is everywhere, and customer service is becoming predictive. It’s a radically different way of thinking about how we interact with customers.
With the new types and levels of engagement that new technologies provide, customers generally rate organizations according to their digital customer experience. With every online activity, the customer leaves a digital footprint that informs organizations seeking to target multitudes of potential customers on what customers are in the market for, where are they expecting to find these products and finally when do these customers intend on making a purchase.
They make their impressions known publicly on various social and digital media platforms, and they consider the comments of others when making a purchasing decision. This type of consumer-to-consumer interaction is forcing companies to rethink their approach to customer interaction and customer experience. This has also led to organizations adopting a human centric approach, all with the aim of ensuring the human touch and empathy permeating through their digital experiences.
Customers expect highly targeted messages and content, which organizations can only deliver with a data-driven marketing strategy. Advances in ML, AI, big data and analytics (including predictive analytics) will allow organizations to create new customer experiences and new sales models.
We believe that data is the most fundamental ingredient to success in customer experience and so, organizations should be thinking “data-first”. Without a solid data foundation, it’s just not possible to deliver an experience that is relevant, timely and consistent.
Across Africa, particularly in East Africa, we are seeing the adoption of emerging technology to drive and increase the service of customer experience. Leading this charge are various government and transportation players. For example, the Kenya Revenue Authority, an agency of the Government of the Republic of Kenya, invested in a cloud-based CX solution for improving the process of filing tax forms.
Position Data as an Enabler of Transformation
Digital transformation initiatives are accelerating disruptions in customer experience. Agility is another key factor in the new marketing approach, which can be supported by ML and AI including recommendation engines which can quickly convert a prospective customer to a lead, and eventually complete a sale. Organizations can create more demand with personalized marketing campaigns, as competition in the new digital marketplace will require speed and agility in order to win mind and wallet share of the customer. Companies should also leverage structured and unstructured data for determining customer profiles, as well as predictive analytics to anticipate potential customer experience scenarios.
By keeping in mind that every department plays a vital role, companies can take a more holistic approach to customer experience. A positive customer experience has the potential to increase revenue through greater competitiveness and positive brand perception. Good brand perception, in turn, motivates employees, who feel proud to work for a well-known and successful company.
Using data, individuals can now attract the kind of deals and products they are in the market for in a similar way to how one would use filters on a website to filter out products that they are not interested in. By being aware of how companies use things like “Cookies” to optimize your viewing experience, you can also use this to ensure you receive deals that are of interest to you based on your preferences and by being an organized digital customer.
The world in general, and Africa in particular, will continue to benefit from the exponential growth opportunities that this fourth industrial revolution provides. A recent study, which was also echoed by the Ichikowitz Family Foundation’s survey titled ‘The rise in Afro-Optimism’ highlights how ’70 percent of Africa’s population is youth under the age of 30 years, with a huge majority currently being active on social media and other digital platforms.’ With increasing mobile penetration and investments in digital infrastructure, we will see the highest rise in online interactions and commerce in Africa as compared to the rest of the world.
It is now apparent that emerging technologies will play a big role in transforming African customers into digital customers, thus transforming business as we know it in Africa.