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Delivering a consistent customer experience in the age of big data

RobertChecketts

Customer experience tips for small businesses_ shutterstock_1006041130.jpgToday's customers expect more. They're mobile, social, and plugged in, and they have access to more brand and product information than ever before. They have more choices and are selectively deciding what brands to interact with and how to engage with them.

Acquiring and retaining customers demands a consistent customer experience and customer-centric relationship building. Businesses need to take a data-driven approach while harnessing new technologies and boosting engagement in ways that will personalize and enhance the customer's experience. Businesses that best utilize the insights gleaned from data to engage their customers can boost profits while reducing costs.

Data makes the customer journey go round

Businesses today are flush with information about their customers, and they're investing more in their technology to analyze that data and use it better. With good data and analysis, businesses can build a holistic view of their customers. They can locate customers within the purchasing journey and serve them based on their unique needs, whether by deploying targeted advertisements or following up with well-timed product updates.

The opportunity to personalize the customer experience and build better relationships is significant. Knowing what customers want and when they want it produces better leads, better targeting, faster sales, and lasting customer loyalty. This last point is critical; loyal customers, Forbes says, are basically a small-business annuity. Smart application of customer data, therefore, isn't optional. Customer relationship management (CRM) and business intelligence (BI) solutions need to be top-of-mind concerns for all SMBs.

Better engagement also builds a better customer experience. It starts with basic communication channels that make it easier for customers to find information, leave feedback, and contact you for support. Live chat, email, feedback forms, knowledge forums, and social media are all representative of this shift toward real-time, on-demand engagement. Customers want to interact on their terms and in ways that are personalized and conversation-friendly.

There's great value in this for businesses. These are intimate opportunities to deliver proactive outbound communications, such as special offers or product updates, that will demonstrate your expertise and dedication to your customers. The inverse is also true—there's never been such an accurate way to gather quality customer feedback that you can use to assess and improve your business.

Better technology builds a better experience

Improvements to your IT infrastructure support your ability to deliver a consistent customer experience in both direct and indirect ways. Tech upgrades are key to expanding data and analytics capabilities and engagement efforts, but they also improve operations and affect customers wherever they interact with your company in the pipeline.

At the very least, CRM and BI initiatives need up-to-date servers, storage, and network infrastructure that can quickly and securely access and query customer data. Anything you can do to better harness your data and produce better insights about your customers will be worth the investment. Cloud-based CRM solutions can also be an affordable, scalable, and easy-to-use option for many businesses.

Externally, better technology also advances your engagement efforts, enabling all-important support and service tools such as live chat or mobile apps. Better tech also powers other forward-facing assets, such as improved payment or ordering processes that make it easier for customers to interact with your products and services.

Serving your customers better and helping them do their jobs separates you from the competition and boosts your organization's professional image. In many cases, your customers are already interacting with new technology with other brands and vendors; lagging behind reveals that you're not up to speed.

Internally, productivity and efficiency are obvious concerns for all businesses. Anything that can streamline business operations will improve the bottom line and, subsequently, the customer experience. Ideally, improved processes mean better customer service, but they also mean cutting costs and realizing savings that can be passed on to the customer or reinvested in other customer-centric areas of the business.

The journey is cyclical

The new customer purchasing journey is cyclical and revolves around a customer experience that is consistent and complete. It's not about rushing toward the sale. It's about forming relationships and making sure that customer needs are met at every point along the purchasing journey.

Technology can't solve every customer relationship problem. But with smart technology—including an updated IT infrastructure—you'll be better equipped to differentiate yourself from your competitors.

Discover affordable IT solutions for your business.

Ready to take the next step? Check out the SMB Hybrid IT for Dummies Guide. Because there are no “dumb” questions!

Or are you ready to purchase? Visit the HPE Store.

 

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About the Author

RobertChecketts

Robert has over 25+ years of IT Marketing and Product Management leadership experience spanning country, Regional and WW organizations. Robert is a marketing executive with extensive experience in field marketing, channel marketing and product marketing on a global basis and is driven to deliver SMB’s end-to-end affordable infrastructure that’s secure from the start, optimized for every workload, packaged for many consumption models, ready to scale, and easy to manage.

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