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Connected customers and digital leadership

22nd November 2016

Mobile shopper30% of mobile shoppers abandon a transaction if the experience is not optimised for mobile - research gathered by Mobify.

A key characteristic of the business leaders succeeding in their industries today is their complete understanding of their customers and how their businesses relate and interact with those customers. In the digital age, our abilities to communicate and engage with customers has continually grown and developed, becoming more-and-more interactive, discursive and collaborative all the time. At the same time, with a global market on offer our connected customers have grown and changed their expectations of our businesses. We no longer compete with our nearest geographic competitors. Now we compete with any business in the world offering the same product or service.

And so in this digital age, what are the traits and characteristics of our business leaders in their understanding and attitudes to customers. We’ve produced our Top Ten Tips for you as a leader to review and reflect –

1. Customer-obsessed

Challenge yourself every day to learn something new about your customers – either an individuals, organisation or potential new customers you’re keen to engage. Find out how they learn about your business and how their purchasing decisions are informed. Best of all, talk to some customers on a regular basis and be sure to ask questions about how they relate to your business and how you can bring them improvements. Regularly review social networks to learn more about them if you can – use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn to see what their interests are, their connections and business interests. Develop a real sense of being interested when you speak or meet – and collect information to add to your CRM.

2. Customer = Staff

Understanding and value the role and relationship between customers and staff as the most key stakeholders in your business, and make sure everyone understands and values that vital connection. Find ways to encourage staff to engage and support customers in new and enjoyable ways – using digital technologies as a channel of huge benefit e.g. video conferencing with regular clients to catch-up meetings, or using video blog (vlogs) as a way to update groups of clients with the latest developments.

Data board3. Data-Creator

Learn how the data gathered by your business is currently being collected, stored and analysed. Think of ways of improving that information and data work so that you gain key insights into your customers, their needs and their expectations. Think of data sets which might be available outside of your business, and which would add value to these insights. There may well be a way of gaining access to that data, or at least to develop the collection of new data which will enhance your insights and analysis.

4. Experience is King

Bring new insights into your understanding of your customers by developing customer journey templates which can be reviewing regularly to discover key touchpoints and ways in which your current systems and processes can be improved – particularly with the benefit of digital. Use these insights not only to find key improvements to experience – find ways to delight your customers and remind them how vital they are to the success of your business.  The way most businesses (especially service sector) will set themselves apart in future will be customer experience and value.

5. Know Them

Customer personas are a great way to tease out key insights into the characteristics and motivations for your average customers. Consider their needs, expectations, key decision pushes, and key marketing pulls. Think of the common traits which they demonstrate to you in the development of your relationship and the things which matter most to them. This will be different for businesses in different sectors, and different customers, but the templated approach helps us to think through our common customer experiences and find ways to excel.

Business meet up6. Customer MeetUps

Be proud to act as a connector of your customers to each other. You are in a position to engage those customers in new opportunities and networks for support, so make the most of that role. You can of course arrange physical meet-ups and focus groups to help with your business reviews and use this as opportunity to connect them to each other. And you can do lots more online using business networks to set up groups or provide introductions – LinkedIn groups are very popular in professional service businesses, whilst Facebook groups are increasing common in smaller business circles.

7. Connect and Create

Use your connections to other businesses and clients as a key part of your innovation process. Bring customers in to inform and advise on your ideas, but also to bring their own ideas with them. Create digital platforms to encourage your customers to provide ideas for service or product development, or ways in which processes can be enhanced or completely changed. Make sure that your connection to your customer is much broader than the transaction wherever you can.

8. Teach Them

Whether your business is involved in delivering services or products there are always opportunities to help your customers learn. Think of ways in which you can engage them in understanding more about the context of their use – instructional videos and help guides are very common. But also think of ways to engage them in learning about the wider context of the service and product – perhaps focussing on the value achieved through your supply chain, or the partnerships which you invest in. Or in Cosmic’s case, the social impact which we achieve as a part of our work.

9. Quality Counts

When was the last time you had a good review of the systems which are place to support and ensure top quality in the delivery of your business? Have you done this review with a digital lens to identify where progresses could be utilised to enhance the quality on offer. Have you embraced the use of digital to provide regular feedback and review loops? Think of the range of ways in which digital can now be brought into play to enhance the quality of your work – prototyping using 3D printers all the way through to using Apps to enhance productivity and customer satisfaction.  And at the same time you have the ability to test with customers through digital channels to gain instant feedback.

Celebrate10. Celebrate

Use each and every opportunity to celebrate the successes of your clients. Share their news and events across your digital marketing channels, and find ways to bring strong brand alignment through the association of your business to your client’s success. Create video ‘well done’ cards to send to your clients, or issue your own publicity materials with this celebration as the main headline. Make sure that you congratulate your clients on their success too – we all like to get that praise!

Cosmic are offering the first South West based Digital Leadership Programme, join us for our inspiring and motivating sessions run by our joint CEO’s Julie Hawker and Kate Doodson which will help you to gain a wider understanding of digital leadership, digital operations and give you the chance to network with others within the group.

For more information and to book: http://cosmic.org.uk/leaders