Businesses often look for ways to maintain customer connections and remove obstacles to doing business when challenges arise. However, more than overcoming short or medium-term disruptions, getting close to the customer is an enduring goal.
Today, businesses of all sizes are taking advantage of emerging commerce developments to strengthen customer interconnectivity. New approaches, aided by technology, can make it easy to cultivate customer relationships and loyalty without major investments or long, resource-consuming projects.
What closeness feels like: the four C’s of emerging commerce
Four qualities, distinct yet interrelated, increasingly define the expectations of consumers and business customers alike for what they want to experience:
- Continuous. Customers expect 24/7, always on, immediate access to a business. This requires organizations to become integral to customers by organizing around their way of doing things.
- Contextual. Historically, customer context has meant an omnichannel approach that provides a cohesive experience whether customers connect in-person or via a computer, tablet or smartphone. Now contextual commerce goes beyond omnichannel. Successful organizations understand how to fit seamlessly into a customer’s environment to make things simple and seamless.
- Conversational. In one study, 80% of consumers said they want a more personalized experience and are more likely to do business with a company that offers one.1 Every interaction, from push notifications to customer service encounters to payments, should deepen understanding of customer preferences and behaviors. By creating a dialog through customer interactions, commerce becomes a conversation that can deepen over time.
- Cashless. The objective is to automate and integrate payments into the customer experience. Frictionless payments—that reduce cash handling and paper—have become especially important in the COVID 19 environment. Many businesses feel a sense of urgency to implement cashless solutions not only for their customers but for their employees and suppliers. What’s most important is to understand how the various cashless alternatives work and to determine which best fits with the use cases for your business.
Building the foundations
Three areas are among the building blocks of customer closeness, driven by technology innovation:
- Security is tables stakes for customer trust. From always-on access to personal data and digital payments, people assume a secure experience, but they do not want security to be intrusive or cumbersome. Multifactor authentication illustrates one technique for achieving this, whereby customers authenticate who they are through different factors, such as confirming a one-time passcode via text/email/voice or use of a biometric.
- Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) can enable your business to organize around your customers by breaking down your services into basic building blocks of a customer experience that is continuous, contextual and conversational. With APIs, a service can be a single data point or instruction. Businesses use these to establish small, shared services that can be aggregated into customer solutions.
- Artificial intelligence (AI) is increasingly present in daily life. For example, a chat bot can answer the phone, communicate with a potential renter, and schedule a tour. Digital assistants can do everything from turn on light switches to order a pizza. AI solutions can start an interaction and seamlessly pass this to a human. This provides continuity while responding to a customer’s needs conversationally within a situation’s context.
Customer connections make for constructive commerce
The four C’s of emerging commerce are helping organizations to organize around customers. Today customer relationships can achieve a level of interconnectivity that is increasingly difficult to disrupt.
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1 “The Power of Me: The impact of personalization on marketing performance”, Epsilon (source: New Epsilon research indicates 80% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase when brands offer personalized)
TM-13076 | 01/21