Happy New Year: what 2016 has in store for your business

What is your strategy for the year ahead? For many companies, 2016 will be the year they get serious about using data to predict and meet customer needs. Businesses that lag behind may find their customer base shrinking as they look to more responsive competitors.

It might seem hard to know where to start in adapting your business to meet this challenge. These top tips will help you get started.

  1. Value personalisation
    Offering customers a personalised service used to be an experimental quirk used by some companies – now it’s becoming standard practice.
    Businesses need to be able to offer high-quality experiences tailored to the individual needs of their customers. Getting it right means stripping out legacy IT systems and investing in business technology that can serve today’s needs. The dividend will be greater customer loyalty and brand engagement.
  2. Make it company-wide
    Customer engagement strategy has to be an organisation-wide effort; you can’t have one individual or team chipping away at it while the rest continue business as usual.
    Companies need skilled professionals who can manage data analysis, develop customer experience journeys and people who understand the technology that is required to set up an effective system.
  3. Lead from the top
    If you are going to reinvigorate your customer experience, the CEO has to be engaged and involved. This buy-in from the top means businesses can make the crucial investments that are involved, and stay the course if initial results are disappointing.
    Having a bold, ambitious CEO who truly understands how the business IT platforms work is vital.
  4. Develop a customer-focused culture
    You need to become almost obsessive about your customers – a half-hearted approach will yield poor results.
    As the IT system used by your business changes, so too your culture, internal organisation structure and perceptions about yourself must alter to meet the new reality.
  5. Break with tradition
    There are many good things about being a long-established business, but you must continue to evolve and develop in order to thrive in the age of big data.
    Companies that play it safe by retaining legacy systems are at risk of losing customers as they offer a poorer experience. No matter how long you have been going, you will need a new mindset to maintain success in future.
  6. Invest in analytics
    Data analysts are fast becoming the most important people in a company. Once data was informative, now it is an essential tool for maintaining competitiveness.
    Collecting data is one thing, but understanding it is quite another. You need to know what questions you wish to answer before diving into a sea of data. Crucially, data analysis should always be linked to actions, not just filed away somewhere.
  7. Engage with customers
    Offering a personalised service means working on the affinity your customers have with you. Consumers respond well to being asked what they think, so long as the type of question, frequency and ease of answering are set appropriately.
    Developing systems for collating customer feedback and canvassing opinions and interaction is a fundamental part of the new data-ruled landscape.
  8. Commit to digital
    The ‘digital first’ principle has been with us for a while, and it’s time for businesses to truly embrace technology as being at the heart of their operations.
    Digital should be embedded into every element of a business, helping to harmonise the customer experience across different channels. However, this doesn’t mean that the offering for every device should be identical – learn how your customers use the different devices on offer and tailor your systems accordingly.
  9. Recognise privacy as a value proposition
    With regular headlines about snooping, hacking and data leaks, consumers are placing more and more importance on knowing their data is managed securely by the brands they trust.
    It never hurts to double check the security of your systems, looking at issues such as encryption and storage practices of outsourcing suppliers. If huge multi-nationals have vulnerabilities, it’s highly likely that you do too.
  10. Focus on operations
    In a data-driven marketplace, there is no more important driver of value than your operational model. It’s not enough to just say you are customer-focussed, you need to prove it by what you do as well.
    Thriving companies will be led by the insights provided by customer data, arranging internal and digital structures to promote flexibility in delivering value.

Do you need to invest in systems to harness the power of customer data? Why not talk to us about our finance options?