The transformation of the customer relationship follows a gradual trajectory, as technology enables companies to increasingly digitize aspects of any interaction affordably-archiving and analyzing each measurement. With every step they take, companies get closer to their aim: combining wide-ranging pieces of information, from location to interests to activity, to target the right customers with the most fitting personalized messages.
Having a deep understanding of customer experience is only half the challenge; the ultimate victory resides in being able to leverage that data to conceive exceptional customer experiences. That capability, in fact, may very well be the most effective way for a business to distinguish its offerings from those of its rivals, especially in an era when every competitor is equally accessible. In a never-ending game of corporate ‘survival of the fittest’, resonating with customers may comprise the sturdiest competitive edge. Just as digitization reaches deeper and deeper into consumers’ lives-yielding insights that can be converted into operational strategies and marketing plans-so, too, are companies based in any of the four major geographic regions treading cautiously but bravely into the digital deep. Within all the regions, the most widely used methods of gathering digital data from consumers are tools that monitor comments on social
media and apps that store data. While companies’ ultimate aims may be to construct standalone customer experiences out of blocks of big data, for now they are seeking to develop the requisite rigor they’ll need (not to mention the technological backbone) by capturing bits of what might be called ‘small data’.
Social-media monitoring tools are affordable and simple to use, and provide an obvious ROI, redirecting the stampede of tweets and posts so they can be organized into useful market intelligence. The logistical challenge of tracking customers across a digital landscape that is vast and furious is made easier by having customers download and install an app that will collect information-about their location, say, or their preferences-and transmit it back to headquarters.
Aggregate results, based on responses from all four geographic regions, show that a plurality of companies have begun to skim the surface of data-collection, relying mostly on social-media monitoring tools and apps. By the end of next year, roughly a quarter of the respondents expect to reach outside their own offerings-including the digital products they sell-and connect with consumers via other digital online connections.