To Grow Your Business Nurture Customer Curiosity

By Elliot Howard | 4 December 2014

The smartphone has become part of our daily lives faster than any comparable technology in history, aside from the television.

Mobile phones have changed our lives in unimaginable ways. Our daily lives increasingly depend on mobile devices in numerous ways, be it checking email, looking at the share prices or doing our banking. It is estimated that 1.4 billion smartphones now exist on the planet and an astonishing 1.8 million phones are sold every day!

This is an incredible number of devices, but this is just the genesis. We are now experiencing what is being referred to as the Internet of Things (IoT) – a world in which billions of devices are connected, from our fridges to our heating systems. And what a market opportunity it promises to be. The global Internet of Things IoT market is expected to grow by more than $5 trillion over the next six years, according to IT research agency, International Data Corporation (IDC).

The interest in IoT devices is not just coming from the consumer market, but is now also being driven by the business world, who do not want to miss out on this burgeoning technology, according to IDC, which sees us moving from a more supply driven to demand driven market place.

IoT Rings the Changes

Massive numbers of devices means a multitude of ways to target an organisation. This enormous thirst for information and 24/7 connectivity is also bolstering customer expectations on service. This is across the board.

These changes in customer perceptions are mirrored in wider society. Consumers increasingly use social media and the internet to stay in contact with friends and family – as well as for business. Generation Y, or young adults aged between 18 and 32, who have grown up in the information age – together with teenagers – see social media as the number one channel for services with the companies they use their purchasing clout with. This has for the first time put business in the enviable position of being able to interact directly with its customers at a personal level.

At the same time, this digital revolution is taking place just as the architecture of business and the way it operates changes. The simplest options for competency gains have already been grabbed. This means that companies need to step up to the plate and look for the next opportunities. Linked to this, shareholder value is increasingly reliant on the revenue side of the income statement as opposed to the cost column. The answer here is simple, new veins of customer, revenue and profit need to be tapped to succeed.

How would you define a curious company?

It is a bit like playing pinball, companies need to hit the so called new digital sweet spot to score. Basically there is an art to the game. Companies need to work on the skills they are best at to guarantee customers get a genuine joined-up experience from the start to the finish of their transaction. To do this you need to have a very clear picture of each customer and their requirements.

Basically, we need to get more curious about how customers’ brains work – what presses their buttons and how can you use this information to help them smoothly through the transaction process.

First step – look at the landscape through the eyes of your customer. Understand that there is a real need to develop value through propositions and experiences before you can put a price tag on it. Don’t forget customer lifetime value and shareholder value are also linked. But seeing the customer as the driver, not short term profit gain requires a more slanted view of shareholder value than business has traditionally given it.

Moving on you need to create curiosity. This is a focus on enhancing business insights into the customer. You need to understand their behaviour, why the make the decisions they do. Quite simply the ‘what, where, when and how’ strands of human behaviour.

Compelling customer curiosity requires research and development - plus the understanding that some routes will be flawed by financial constraints – but what you will learn will be extremely valuable.

It’s from the wisdom you will harvest from being curious that the next field of growth will eventually arrive.

Changing view of data

Data is increasingly referred to as an asset. Yet there is still a real lack of investment in capturing, maintaining and utilizing data.

Maintaining data quality demands very clear governance including agreed KPIs for which a senior business executive is held accountable and a data stewardship team assigned with tools designed to automate the defined data management processes and deliver control.

Unfortunately data is often viewed as the fall-out from IT enabled processes and not seen as a very valuable business asset. With the arrival of advanced analytics and decision management tools, this data should be the very life blood of a business and not seen as a by-product.

“If you give people tools, and they use their natural abilities and their curiosity, they will develop things in ways that will surprise you very much beyond what you might have expected,” Bill Gates once said. A true observance that sums up today’s technological world. Financial services businesses should prepare to mobilise customer curiosity – not let it totter past unnoticed.

 

By Elliot Howard, Executive Vice President and UK Managing Director, Sopra

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