languages2-Asian-business-peopleThe importance of customer relations has reached a new dimension and both B2C and B2B companies have to rise to the challenges. The following four key success factors may help you to achieve centricity for your customers consistently and continuously.

1. Analyzing data in real-time: Modern systems are able to detect more and more data, as well as processing big data in real time, so that from past experience and present data, forecasts can be created. Car drivers, for instance, experience that with their navigation system that takes a new traffic jam immediately into account and optimizes the planned route accordingly. Similarly, customers receive more and more shopping recommendations related to their past and current behavior, their location, and specific situation - which is quite feasible using the latest techniques. Combined with real-time geolocation data, the evaluation of customer information could be as follows: A customer in the city center receives a message on his smartphone that the running shoes he was searching for online in the past few days are now offered by the store he is just passing by - in the right shoe size at a special price. Well, most probably he won’t miss the good opportunity to get them there.

2. Provide relevant information only: Today’s consumers often feel overwhelmed by a multitude of information: They receive emails, newsletters, WhatsApp - and Facebook messages, surf the Internet, and are captured by television and radio. Due to this so called "information overflow”, he would simply prefer to get just information relevant to him. It means, if a company showers him with lump sum offers that have nothing to do with his own personal reality, he turns away irritated and sometimes even annoyed. Therefore, it is crucial not only to capture and analyze data in real time, but also to process the data, so that in the end only relevant information is generated.

In the "Age of the Customer" the relevance and the context rules! It can be achieved by means of suitable, integrated systems for the personalization and marketing automation that take into account all factors - from concerns about consumer behavior to contexts and moments. This allows for a targeted individual approach, which goes far beyond the usual rough segmentation, such as sex, age, or marital status, but can forecast needs: If a customer for example has bought a perfume or a washing machine, such products should not be offered to him immediately again, but only after a few months.

3. Do not offer products, but experiences: Customers do not want to buy products any more, but experiences - and therefore companies should increasingly approach them on an emotional level. However, you cannot succeed, if you present in your online stores or at the point of sale only the functional characteristics of your offerings. An optimal "Customer Experience" implies the merger of product data with target group-oriented real content and its integration into an appropriate context. Technically, this can be realized by integrating a commerce platform with the content management system, enhancing the product data in a targeted and consistent manner with individual texts, pictures or videos, and that way creating holistic customer experiences. Seamless brand and theme worlds emerge, where buyers can experience the products better and more personally across all channels.

4. Let the customers determine their own business: In order to survive in the "Age of the Customer", as I said, companies have to center the customer in all of their business activities, including the internal processes. Nowadays, shoppers don’t want to waste a single thought on which department to address regarding concerns or complaints, and no longer see it as necessary to explain a salesperson exactly again, what they have discussed in detail already during their call to the call center. Therefore, new forms of organization are needed which combine all aspects of customer orientation from the traditional departments such as marketing, sales or e-commerce, and combine it instead as “customer relationship management”. Furthermore, it is strongly recommended not to force customers to become active where companies want them. If they buy or reserve a product on the Internet, they might want to pick it up or change it at a branch. In order to make this happen, and to provide customers with additional individual consultancy in the store regarding an online order, companies have to be informed at all times about what has already happened on the Internet and vice versa. Companies that do not integrate their online and offline channels seamlessly are wasting cross- and up-selling potential and will therefore get difficulties in the near future. The same fate has to be expected by traders, which means all those who do not comply with the request of the customer to deliver a product ordered online as soon as possible, will have problems. For this reason, more and more companies implement commissioning and logistics processes for a "same day delivery" – even in the grocery trade, where a continuous cold chain must be guaranteed for fresh produce.

In the "Age of the Customer" and constant digital transformation, companies face without doubts many major challenges, and Asian eMarketing is trying its best to keep you informed with all you need to know to succeed.

Just keep in mind that a customer-centric organization builds an operating model around a deep understanding of its customers, what they value and the contribution each makes to the profitability of the company.

This requires designing business processes that recognize different customer segment needs; delivering a positive and seamless customer experience at every touch point across the customer life cycle; maintaining an active dialogue with customers and acting on feedback; as well as fostering a culture that places the customer at the heart of the decision-making process.

Advances in technology and communication, combined with the explosive growth in data and information, have given rise to a more empowered global consumer that is demanding and challenging. It is expected, for instance, that by 2010 around 80% of the global population will have access to mobile telephony and more than 60% to smartphones or low-cost tablet computers. Furthermore, 50 billion connected devices will probably exist by then globally, with mobile being the primary internet device for most individuals. Social media and access to information, such as peer-to-peer product and service reviews, are already giving greater power to consumers, creating more informed and demanding customers, a fact that every vendor has to deal with.

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By Daniela La Marca