A new redk report, The Connected Customer, produced in partnership with IDG Research, examines an increasingly connected consumer landscape and the challenges this presents to brands.

A new redk report, The Connected Customer, produced in partnership with IDG Research, examines an increasingly connected consumer landscape and the challenges this presents to brands.

Surveying over 100 companies in Europe, ranging from 200 to 5,000 employees in a range of sectors, the report finds that CRM transformation is now a strategic imperative for organisations.

In this, the first of a five-part examination of the report’s findings, we look at how consumers are redefining their relationships with brands and shed some light on the new expectations companies have to meet if they’re to engage successfully with the connected customer.

‘If we understand what a connected customer means, CRM becomes a strategic tool – one that is at the heart of the organisation.’

The power of CRM

Customer Relationship Management is at a turning point. It can no longer be seen merely as a tool for improving organisation, especially as companies begin to recognise and leverage the power of CRM to manage the customers’ journey and deliver optimised customer experiences in the process.

Customers’ relationships with the brands they interact with are no longer regarded as one-offs. They see their own relationship with their brands and companies of choice as a series of connected interactions – and their experiences are remembered. Customers providing feedback, good or bad, on public forums or at companies’ own points of engagement is now the norm, and they expect to build an ongoing relationship with their chosen brands.

Furthermore, and importantly, customers now identify with companies, products, and services emotionally, and expect those organisations to share, or at least reflect, their attitudes and values. They do not want to be anonymous, but instead want companies to have a holistic view of their needs and provide a personalised service accordingly, tailored to their requirements. They also expect to be able to self-serve whenever and wherever they wish.

‘Customers no longer have anonymous and sporadic interactions with each company, but are instead continuously connected to it over time.’

Customer expectations have changed

This radical shift in the nature of customer relationships can now be described as a continuous cycle that’s never really over; no longer is a purchase the endpoint of what had typically been a linear interaction. To take full advantage of the opportunities presented by this change, it’s critical that companies understand these new expectations.

Some of the figures from the survey provide a sharp illustration of just how clearly consumers themselves are now signposting the way forward. Over two-thirds, 68% of them, now expect organisations to have a 360-degree view of the customer, with almost the same number – 64% – expecting interactions with them to be personalised accordingly.

These data particularly resonate with bigger companies; the larger the organisation is, says the report, the more important it is to address these expectations successfully.

Customers are bombarded with spam and irrelevant messages – and their tolerance is dwindling. That holistic view must therefore be translated into effective communications and targeted offers, tailored to their preferences’

CRM transformation is critical

To see just how effective a single-platform solution that places customer experience at a business’s core can be, look at i-surance. Their expansion had outpaced their tech solutions, leaving them with disparate solutions and less-than-optimal customer service. Even in an innovative B2B2C business model, where a complete tech rethink was needed, the right horizontal platform – Zendesk – produced outstanding results.

If companies are going to continue to evolve and maximise the potential of relationships with their customers as i-surance has, they need to look at a solution that our report finds they have hitherto tried to ignore – CRM transformation. You can download the full report here, and we’ll examine the readiness of different business areas to address connected customers’ expectations in part two of this summary.

At redk, we have over 15 years’ experience in digital transformation, working with our expert partners to advise on and implement the best technical solutions for your business. Get in touch now to find out how we can help deliver a first-class customer experience.