The way technology has spread its wings in all the industries across the world, it has amazed all of us with huge benefit and its dominative presence. Technology has given new ways to engage effectively with more customers. Now businesses understand the value of being digitally empowered as this approach provides them an extra hand to grow business. India’s digital landscape is continuing to evolve dynamically and it is powered by several factors i.e. penetration of internet, government’s focus on Digital India, all time connectivity due to smartphones etc. All these factors are helping India to become digitally empowered economy. Organizations having a planned digital roadmap today especially for engaging customers will get lead in the race towards growth as the country transforms digitally. Further explaining the importance of having Digital Mantra for customer engagement, DT has compiled an informative story to make readers aware about new business tools.
Businesses across India are at the cusp of a great tectonic shift and a new technological era is dawning upon us. With the advances being made in compute power, AI and ML, it is becoming increasingly important for humans and machines to work together as a cohesive workforce. According to Research by Vanson Bourne in Partnership with Dell Technologies, 38% of Indian leaders agree that humans and machines are already working together successfully as an integrated team within their organizations. Hence, the time is not far when businesses, will harness AI to do data-driven “thinking tasks” for them, significantly reducing the time they spend testing new innovations and in debating and scoping options.
Organizations in India need to focus on the impact that various technologies have on businesses now, and in the future. This is essential to meet the ever-evolving needs of customers in a timely and efficient manner. Technology is and will continue to be a part and parcel of our everyday lives, changing the way we think, behave and adapt. By 2030 every organization will be a digital organization, powered by software and analytics, enabling and powering human-machine teams. Automation and self-service is the way forward with 88% Indian leaders saying that they will automate everything and encourage customers to self-serve. Also, 94% Indian leaders believe that they will be delivering hyper-connected customer experiences with VR within the next 5 years and 93% say that they will be surely using AI to pre-empt customer demands. Therefore, it has become imperative for every business to explore emerging technologies to provide differentiated solutions and to help meet the varied demands of their customers.
Customer Engagement in Digital India
Now organizations are focusing on smart digital ways to engage customers because this is the need of today’s world as world is progressing swiftly toward being digital. Organizations are working closely with digital technology to be prominent in the customer engagement. Customer experience have become centre point in digital age.
“In today’s digital age, it’s crucial for retailers to engage with their consumers through innovative ways and personalized experiences. As the world goes progressively digital, the consumers are adapting to it faster. The advent of social media has made it simple for the brands to communicate and engage with customers real-time. Today, consumers are digitally more empowered, and they get to know more about the products through social media channels and online research, this is helping them make informed buying decisions” said Chandrahas Panigrahi, CMO and Consumer Business Head, Acer India. “We have been leveraging social media and the digital platform to feature right at the top of the consideration set of the consumers when it comes to personal technology. Besides this, through tools like predictive analysis, retailers can foresee a customer’s changing requirements. While innovations like chatbots, are assisting brands in solving basic queries of customers.”
“The digital revolution is an opportunity for any business to transform its own operations and in doing so, find new markets, develop new business models, and engage with customers, suppliers and partners in innovative ways. Customer expectations have changed with the evolution of the digital world, and it’s critical that organizations recognize this and adapt accordingly” commented Adarsh Noronha, Country Manager, Oracle Marketing Cloud. Customers want consistent and seamless experiences that are tailored and personalized. Partner and suppliers also have challenges when it comes to modernizing customer engagement. Many have disparate systems and multiple portals per business unit or geography, and these systems are not integrated with key backend systems like lead management, quote management and sales tools. With too many systems from too many vendors, partners and suppliers find it difficult to engage on a regular basis. Many suppliers and partners operate in the field and depend heavily on mobile, but the lack of mobile access makes it a huge inconvenience when on the go. Digital experience solutions for business services can help solve these challenges by keeping suppliers and partners engaged with self-service capabilities that are integrated with back-end processes, providing a single portal and view for all content and information, and giving mobile-focused just-in-time access to relevant data.
“The digital era has opened up a plethora of options to actively engage customers. Social Media rules the roost amongst the various avenues and has taken customer engagement to never before heights. With Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn etc., one has the power to address large customer base with Product Updates, New Product launches, Product Videos, Promotions etc., in no time” said Manoj Kumar Pansari, Chairman & Managing Director of Astrum.
“Engaging customers has always been a challenge for businesses. We’ve moved into an era of digital automation and analytics, where everything happens in the blink of an eye and customers expect immediate solutions to their problems. They might order a product or a service online or at your store, but they expect a hassle-free experience either way. It’s all about the customer: retailers are focusing investment on in-store experiences and social media campaigns while improving their ability to get a single view of the customer” commented Mukesh Chaudhary, Country Head-India, SAARC & ME, RAPOO Technologies India Pvt. Ltd.
Kishan Sundar, Vice President – Digital, Maveric Systems added, “A major challenge that has posed itself before most businesses is that they are dealing with expensive and disjointed technology stacks and customer serving teams to support their digital engagement – right from marketing to customer care. As a result, a lot of thought and innovation is getting applied to mitigate these challenges by adopting cost effective solution like PaaS or SaaS that will help them engage more effectively with customers.”
“Customer engagement seems to continue towards the online ecosystem for research and verification. While industry data shows a dominating majority of purchases still being made in physical retail, and even digital advertising pushing customers to purchase in retail, customers more and more begin and supplement their product exploration online, specifically seeking reviews from authorities and other consumers alike” stated Faiz Rahman, Regional Manager India and Sri Lanka, STM Brands.
Vinayak Katkar, Co – Founder and Director, Amura Marketing Technologies added, “Recently, brands were trying to raise the bar on customer service to differentiate from competitors and defend prices. Digitalization is acting as an accelerator by improving customer service into an urgent imperative. With the use of social platforms and the online forums, business practices are becoming increasingly transparent, hence enhancing customer engagement. Customer engagement in digital era can be explained in three simple pointers, (1) Availability of single view of the customer across different channels which can be leveraged through CRM solutions like Sell.Do. (2) Customer segmentation based on the purchase history, social media interests, communication preferences, household composition, socioeconomic brackets etc. (3) Marketing Automation and Differential Communication – Reaching out to the right consumer at the right time through right channel based on the customer segmentation.”
New Digital Trends Helping in Customer Engagement
The emerging digital technology bringing new ways to engage more and more customer and it doesn’t even demand technical expertise. Being digitally empowered organizations explores different growth paths that helps in brand development as well as increasing revenue part.
Commenting on the emerging digital trends that has been playing vital role in customer engagement, Chandrahas Panigrahi, Acer India said, “Below enlisted are the emerging digital trends that will help companies engage with customers going forward:
- Predictive analysis
Data, numbers and facts helps companies to predict the market. AI’s competence to handle a large volume of data and finding reasons and patterns among them has given marketers exceptional ability to make data-driven predictions and decisions. Predictive analysis has been helping businesses to improve their conversion rate; however, its implications are much wider. Besides this, it also allows companies to set pricing strategies and recommend ideas for new product lines by recognizing changes in customer preferences and expectations.
- Effective Market Research
Powerful AI can help marketers and companies to design products and communications better. It can analyze large data points and predict where consumer behavioral change will happen. Early movers will benefit from adoption of AI in their business process and get products into market in time.
- Helps to reach out the right target audience
Often it happens that people get advertisements on the web page that have nothing to do with their interests. Thus, it is crucial for marketers to reach the right audience and AI-based Digital Marketing solutions enables reaching out to the prospects effortlessly. AI collects and analyses user data and predicts user behaviour. It identifies the target audience based on their interests, focus, likes and other aspects and decides the target group. When AI becomes more stronger it can even predict the needs even before the potential customer starts searching for it and serve the product message before other brands.
Adarsh Noronha, Oracle Marketing Cloud said, “Customers in every part of the world now expect brands to deliver convenient, hyper-personalised experiences. This means tailored recommendations based on past purchases and return records. Like elsewhere, customers in APAC expect a brand to automatically adjust language, shipping and payment options based on wherever the customer is in the world. Personalised shopping is particularly important in APAC; a market defined by digital experiences, where customers expect instant service and highly individualised offerings. Consumers in the region are hyper-connected with smartphone penetration significantly higher than desktop penetration in many markets. In fact, in 2017 APAC accounted for 64 percent of the world’s growth in mobile social media users, according to We Are Social, which puts more impetus on brands to connect with consumers on their terms.”
“We are going to see increasing use of Artificial Intelligence and Smart Personalization for customer engagement in the digital era. Companies are already starting to see the benefits of using AI technology in things like chatbots when customers visit websites” said Rana Gupta, Vice President – APAC Sales, Identity and Data Protection, Gemalto. “Chatbots are an extremely efficient way for companies to scale digital engagement efforts with minimal behind the scenes human effort. Smart personalization tools enable companies to gather information from users as they visit their websites over time. This information can include their IP address, location, industry, and content they visit on the website. With this data, companies can then serve more relevant content that matches that visitors areas of interest, making the experience more personal.”
Manoj Kumar Pansari, Astrum commented “In some of the global markets today messaging services like WeChat are emerging to be favored e-commerce platforms, where consumers are able to use the in-built payment gateway to search and buy products of their choice. This is a fast emerging trend in some parts of Asia and expanding to a few European countries too. We expect a similar trend extending to India as well and will redefine the way consumers exercise their buying options.”
Mukesh Chaudhary, RAPOO Technologies India Pvt. Ltd added, “Marketers are aware of what needs to be done, and many are taking action. But that often boils down to implementing new technology platforms, adding head count, or increasing digital allocations within the marketing-spending mix. Fundamentally, modern marketing operations calls for the thoughtful, deliberate development of new processes, coordination, and governance. Technology enables the customer experience, but it requires people, processes, and governance to ensure technology does what it’s supposed to do. Delivering on Omni channel customer experiences requires marketing technology that can automate processes, personalize interactions, and coordinate actions. Meeting customer expectations calls for mapping out each of the steps that define the entire customer experience, highlighting not only the technologies and processes needed to enable a smooth journey.”
Kishan Sundar, Maveric Systems stated, “With most companies adopting enterprise wide technology stack than just specific department-related solutions, there is consensus that one size doesn’t fit all and there is high adoption of SaaS and Paas for engaging the customer in the latest and most efficient manner. Software as a Service (SaaS) is a software licensing and delivery model in which software is licensed on a subscription basis and is centrally hosted. Platform as a Service (PaaS) is a category of cloud computing services that provides a platform allowing customers to develop, run, and manage applications without the complexity of building and maintaining the infrastructure typically associated with developing and launching an app. The advantage of combining these powerful technology services and defining uses of technology is creation of software that is built for scaling and utilized on a platform that scales as and when needed, with the flexibility to pay per use.”
“Augmented Reality is proving to be a significant advancement in the ability to reach customers in a new and more compelling way. Because AR technology provides the customer a more intimate, detailed, and interactive way to experience the product, it is showing itself to be a true advancement in digital marketing. And unlike many other digital marketing tactics which reside solely, or at least more typically online, augmented reality is something that can be brought directly and immediately into the retail environment, effectively marrying the traditional with the digital in a way that today’s customers understand and appreciate” commented Faiz Rahman, STM Brands.
Vinayak Katkar, Amura Marketing Technologies said, “Currently, what I feel is that diversification in the platforms used for digital marketing is one of the emerging trends. Marketers consider generating high quality Leads is an area of high priority which needs optimisation. Some of the emerging trends are:
- Pre – Cognitive Marketing – IoT platforms helps to link news, events, and instant alerts to a prospective customer base, through marketing channels, selling channels and campaign builders. Campaign builders’ project tailor made marketing campaigns for businesses by gathering information concerning specific business needs. The marketing campaign will then pre-emptively establish the potential customer’s needs and share related products based on that information.
- User Journey Mapping – User research and data analysis plays a key role in customer journey mapping process. Artificial neural networks can sensor the data down to meaningful insights and make predictions. Brands target potential customers and decision makers by collating information based on regular interactions with gadgets, online public profiles, and digital accounts.
- Chat Bots – This AI based technology uses instant messaging format to chat in real time with your existing and potential customers.
- Personalized Content – It delivers a novel experience to customers based on their choices, selection and preferences and takes into account an improved choice. A study by Marketo shows that personalized, triggered e-mails based on behaviour are 3x better than batch-and-blast e-mails.”
Best Solutions to Boost Customer Engagement
Customer Engagement has been the core objective of every business and it needs higher attention than any other aspect as business can survive only by engaging new customers and retaining the old ones. In today’s digital era, this work has become very easy because there are many solutions already available in the market that helps to execute this work with more expertise and getting fruitful results.
“As technology is changing rapidly, I would recommend marketers to alter their strategies to stay ahead in the highly competitive industry. Companies who have social media presence need to brace up their engagement using AI, Machine learning and analytics tools. It is more about being curious and staying relevant with the latest trends that can benefit your business” said Chandrahas Panigrahi, Acer India. “In the near future, AI will enable marketers to create a completely new experience for customers and will meet all needs of customers like never before. Marketing is expected to get more intelligent and data will be at the center of this.”
Adarsh Noronha, Oracle Marketing Cloud added, Oracle offers a digital experience platform that allows organisations to modernize customer engagement for their customers, partners and suppliers. Oracle Engagement Cloud augments sales-force automation and modern sales performance management. Oracle Sales Cloud with key service capabilities enables salespeople to offer services and support agents to cross-sell products. These unified sales and service capabilities set Oracle Engagement Cloud apart by enabling a company to break down information barriers between departments so that employees can have informed, one-stop interactions with high-value customers.
“As a digital security partner to the tech vendors, we provide the security behind a wide range of new digital services consumers use every day, from securing contactless payments and online banking to vast amounts of digital data that companies are increasingly collecting online” said Rana Gupta, Gemalto.
“Businesses today have the pressing need to be able to think out of the box and pick the solution that is best suited to reach out to its customers. There is no one size fits all solutions for customer engagement, each business has to explore from the plethora of options available and chose what fits them the best in providing optimum reach. To each his own is the mantra” added Manoj Kumar Pansari, Astrum.
“As customer expectations become more important, their nature is also changing. These customer expectations now transcend traditional industry borders, with customers expecting levels of personalization, on-demand access and accessibility that match the leaders in customer experience across all their interactions. Customers are beginning to judge the quality of products and services they receive not only against other companies in the same sector but also against the best customer service they have experienced in any industry. These developments are all-encompassing, affecting both the B2C and B2B worlds. To maintain a common vision for an end-to-end customer experience, companies need their leaders to advocate for customer-centric digital transformation and establish executive ownership over digital strategy and investments” said Mukesh Chaudhary, RAPOO Technologies India Pvt. Ltd.
“STM Brands has been investing in augmented reality development from the last year to create experiences that can be implemented in retail worldwide, including Indian businesses, that are designed to drive more compelling in-store engagement and in turn drive greater conversion from customer visits” stated Faiz Rahman, STM Brands.
Vinayak Katkar, Amura Marketing Technologies commented, “Being a marketing technology digital agency, we have built our own tools and platforms that empower brands to engage and provide a better customer experience. We strongly believe that the combination of technology and marketing, is crucial to the brand’s marketing efforts, as it all works to deliver appropriate and precise marketing campaigns and engagements between the brand and the people. Say for example, one of our products Sell. Do which is a sales and marketing automation platform is being used by more than 200 real estate brands. It optimises their marketing efforts by tracking customer behaviour with the help of drip marketing. For each marketing campaign it provides real time sales forecast and detailed report which helps the brand to have targeted approach and understand their Return on investment. Likewise there is our product called IRIS which is a booking portal for Real Estate companies.”