Soccer team in a huddle

Skating to Where the Customer Will Be

February 16, 2016 by Robert Enslin 11

Business has embraced world famous hockey player Wayne Gretzky’s quote, “A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.” In a digital world, that is becoming more and more difficult for businesses to do.

Digital business models are disuptive by nature, changing the rules by which traditional businesses operate. In fact, 90% or CEOs believe the digital economy will have a major impact on their industry. But only 15% are actively executing a plan to address that impact. So what are businesses to do in order to “skate to where the puck is going to be”?

Organizations are choosing to blur their own industry line in order to address a broader customer base and gain market share though business model innovation. Alibaba was first established in 1999 as an e-commerce platform to challenge eBay. The company has since moved into financial services and technology, and achieved a market capitalization of US$175B while doing so. Disrupting business is what is driving today’s digital economy. An economy that requires businesses to not only know their customers, but understand and anticipate what they need, before they even know it.

I continually see an assertiveness from our customers as they embark on new business models that allow them to gain entry into new markets, industries, and regions. A major financial institution wanting to expand their presence globally is investigating a joint venture with none other than grocery stores in another country as a means to gain traction. Companies like Under Armour are embracing communities to gain market share and expand their business’ footprint. The company is connecting with 38 million people through a digital health platform to expand their customer base. More importantly, though, Under Armour is using this community to listen to what customers are looking for and using that information to help shape future offerings. Those customer connections have helped bring their connected fitness product portfolio to market, providing a true dashboard for all things health and fitness for the consumer. There is no doubt that customers have significantly more choices in today’s market and in a world of instantaneous communication via social networks, a company can make or break it with online brand engagement. Business success today – no matter the industry or geography – is built from an outstanding customer experience.

Business process change is another means to the end goal of adding customers and keeping them happy. Customers are looking for a seamless (read SIMPLE) experience, no matter the purchasing channel. The experience should be the same across any channel, at any time, anywhere and on any device. In fact, 74% of consumers say they have spent more with a company because of a history of positive customer service experiences, and 68% are willing to spend on average 14% more for that kind of experience. A CRM solution was a great asset to your business 10 years ago. But in today’s world, tracking what your customers did yesterday, will not put you in a position to offer them what they need tomorrow. It won’t allow you to engage them on the web, on social media, or on their mobile devices as they consider your brand, or your competitors.

The right solution can allow you to deliver the kind of experience today’s digital natives – and even those of us who aren’t quite so native – have come to expect. The right solution, while adding channels and engagement functionality, eliminates integrations rather than creating them. The result? Business agility that either staves off disruptors – or helps you become the disruptor.

With the goal to target new customers and also help those customers better navigate complex, multichannel buying processes, Nestle Nespresso SA, an operating unit of the Nestle Group, chose to invest in technology to make it happen. According to Jean-Marc Duvoisin, CEO, Nestle Nespresso SA, “Nespresso maintains a direct dialogue with our consumers and Club Members. Worldwide they interact with us through an array of consumer contact points.” Nestle then uses that deep customer insight to build a business process that makes the complete buying cycle easier for the customer.

Everywhere around the world, digital disruption is creating seismic market movements and creating a new normal for many companies. I see it in my own travels; I hear it in my discussions with customers everywhere. The common denominator in all the discussions? We have to engage customers in a new way. When we talk about this in our own boardroom, the answer is always do what is best for the customer. They should be at the center of every decision made and every process put in place. Skating to where your customers will be can never be the wrong decision.

This story originally appeared on SAP Business Trends.
Top image via Shutterstock

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