Know thy customer; managers need to use digital tools to more effectively pinpoint customers’ needs

Good business managers understand their customers.

It sounds obvious but this basic fact is too often forgotten and so bears underscoring.

PUBLISHED : Friday, 25 March, 2016, 12:10pm
UPDATED : Friday, 25 March, 2016, 12:10pm

Good business managers understand their customers.

It sounds obvious but this basic fact is too often forgotten and so bears underscoring.

New tools are now at executives’ disposal to get to know their clients — always a business objective for the best companies. The result is it is easier to gather information about customer needs. Then to analyse and distribute it more quickly and efficiently to front-line staff, or to customers themselves.

Consider surveys. In the past, this was an expensive and time-consuming endeavour to do well. Remember the days of door-to-door pollsters? Or random telemarketing calls? Now with digital products such as SurveyMonkey, all you need do is to craft thoughtful questions and perhaps dangle a prize for answering. (Think about how many times a free mobile phone or tablet has motivated you to fill out a survey!)

To be sure, the key to a good survey is good questions, and they aren’t always easy to write. Similarly, once you get your answers the hard yards are in the analysis and designing a plan of action for what to do with them.

But if your customers are missing in action, perhaps use that acronym as a call to arms.
Think MIA; Measure, Identify then Act.

But if your customers are missing in action, perhaps use that acronym as a call to arms.

Think MIA; Measure, Identify then Act.

Measure what your customers require. This may be done through a survey or by mining data. Identify the salient points and build a plan of action. Then act. Once you have your analysis, make sure to arm your staff with the relevant data.

Oftentimes, the data is at a business’s disposal already but it hasn’t been mined.

Banks are prime examples. A bancassurance salesperson would be well served to know when bank customers have recently bought a new home (and may need a new property or fire insurance policy), or when they got married or had a baby (and may want to revisit life insurance). Still, often that data isn’t to hand.

Building a data base and an internal system for sharing that information would be useful. This could be put on a dashboard on a computer screen for the salesperson to see all he or she needs to know about a customer so the salesperson can more effectively target a pitch.

It isn’t rocket science but it requires an investment in time, manpower (and likely money to bring your backoffice system up to speed). These are investments that will likely pay dividends in better customer relations.

Alex Trott leads the distribution and marketing business for financial services at Accenture in Hong Kong

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