For countless years successful companies have told their staff that 'the customer is king' and that customer satisfaction is a key requirement for sales growth and repeat business. Such companies today are also likely to have some form of customer relationship management software as well as a plan to take advantage of the growth of mobile computing. However, what most organisations generally fail to comprehend is the sheer size of the challenge and the current rates of adoption of technologies that are changing the way the world communicates. Those who ignore the implications will be left wondering why their sales figures are slowing down and how their competitors overtook them.
The Internet of Customers
New social and mobile technologies are triggering a seismic shift in every industry. There are approximately 1.7 billion smart phones on the planet right now, but by the time this article is posted this number will already be out of date. A Cisco Internet Business Group study has predicted that by the year 2020 the number of Internet-connected devices will reach around 50 billion - that's more than seven separate Internet connections for every person currently on the planet. This represents a dramatic change for customer service professionals who now need to deliver service to the always-connected, highly independent, mobile customer. Connected customers are social and always on the move, and they are making Internet-connected devices an integral part of their daily lives. As well as phones and tablets, they will connect an increasing number of lifestyle devices like personal fitness monitors, smart watches, cameras, smart cars, and a whole range of intelligence-building devices such as appliances, TVs, security monitors, thermostats and baby monitors.
But behind this Internet of things is something profound. Because behind every tweet that happens on Twitter, behind every post that happens on Facebook, behind every one of these devices and wearable technology, behind every one of our mobile devices -- behind every one of these things, there's a customer. Welcome to the internet of customers.
The Connected Customer
The new and repeat customers connected to these pervasive devices drive micro-moments of potential productivity every minute and are changing how contemporary business happens. This connectivity revolution is driving the biggest shift in sales, service and marketing in the last 60 years and it demands that companies use new tools to better understand and engage their audiences. This year's IBM CEO study predicts that social networking will become one of the top ways that companies will engage with customers, replacing more traditional methods. Modern marketers are moving from passive observation to turning insights into action. They need the right technology to do this and Gartner predicts that by 2017, Chief Marketing Officers will spend more on IT than CIOs.
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