Computerworld

INSIGHT: 10 ways technology has changed your customers

Technology has opened up a world of information and competition, causing a power shift away from suppliers and toward customers.

Technology has opened up a world of information and competition, causing a power shift away from suppliers and toward customers.

Your customers are being changed by technology - their expectations are higher and it's easier for them to shop around.

Many changes have occurred because of consumer technology; such as mobility, cloud and social media.

The personalised experiences we get from companies like Amazon and Spotify are "normal" now; we expect this level of service to be available to us, anywhere and on any device.

Business customers are consumers too - and people are coming to expect the same level of service at work.

Because of technology, your customers are:

1. Less reliant on you for information because so much is available online

Today, customers are on average 57% of the way through a purchase before even engaging with a supplier.

2. Spoilt for choice because they have instant access to more suppliers, products and pricing options online.

The internet makes it easy for new global, niche and disruptive competitors to lure your customers away.

3. Flooded with information and options, making it take longer to research and select products.

Customers are gravitating toward solutions that are described in their language about their needs - rather than product features and benefits.

4. Already purchasing online. Neilson research has shown that 1.9 million New Zealanders now shop online (that's 56% of the population) and the average annual transactions per customer has increased to 11 - up 58% in 2 years.

5. Increasingly mobile as consumers with 41% of smartphone owners and 58% of tablet owners using their device to make purchases.

And 71% of in-store shoppers who use smartphones for online research say their device has become more important to their in-store experience.

6. Increasingly mobile in business with 90% of executives using smartphones to research for business purposes, 14% making a direct purchase because of it - and 34% who didn't purchase because of a non-mobile friendly interface.

7. Demanding more variety of interaction than ever before - from digital natives who want an online and mobile experience, to baby boomers who don't trust technology and want to deal face-to-face.

Each customer expects to be able to receive their own desired balance of physical and digital.

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8. Wanting personalised experiences that are tailored for them, based on knowledge about their preferences and previous behaviours.

Marketing today is expected to be relevant and provide on insightful recommendations.

9. Better connected to each other and more able to share information more readily than ever before.

Consumers are 71% more likely to purchase based on social media recommendations. Corporate customers seek out referrals and case studies online and on social networks.

10. Demanding better, more reliable service because they have come to expect instant access to what they want, when they want it. Great customer service is available 24x7, engaging, personalised and offers self-service.

Customers are disrupting the supplier relationship

Customers are more aware, have more options, are more demanding and ultimately have more power.

To win, you need to recognise this and provide the best experience, not just the best product:

• Understand your customers and really learn what they want from you today, as well as what they value from suppliers in general.

This may signal an opportunity to give them a new, desired experience. Disruptive innovators often enter (and take over) industries by offering a unique experience to that market based on existing technology.

• Offer engaging experiences from start to finish, with options for customers to interact with you in the ways that work best for them. The best customer experience journeys are consistent, insightful and personal.

• Provide consistently good service across all interactions that your customers have with you. Make sure you deliver the right service for the medium; customers have different expectations of in person, online, mobile and social interactions

If you can win the hearts of your customers, you will win their minds. Technologies have opened up new methods and approaches, but success comes down to connecting to your customers on an emotional level.

“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel” — Maya Angelou

By David Reiss - Business technology specialist, Spark Digital