March 2021 | 699 words | 3-minute read
In the early 1980s, while leading the turnaround of Scandinavian Airlines System (SAS), CEO Jan Carlzon came to understand the critical importance of the many individual interactions between SAS employees and customers. Each encounter was a ‘moment of truth’, he argued, when a customer’s attitude towards the company could be changed for good or ill.
Carlzon’s idea was recognised as one of the breakthrough business concepts of the 20th century. Yet radical changes in consumer behaviour and information technology have made the ‘moment of truth’ concept due for a refresh.
The internet and related technologies have empowered consumers by providing them with information at their fingertips when they want it. At the same time, advances in technology have given brands the tools to understand and interact with customers in powerful new ways. Thanks to mobile communications, the internet of things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI) and analytics, brands can stay in contact with the connected consumer in a multitude of ways.
That’s why it’s now become a ‘continuum of truth’ rather than a ‘moment of truth’.
Roadblocks to connected customer experiences
Today’s wired consumers have become accustomed to great customer experiences from born-on-the-web brands, especially in retail and financial services. Brands therefore must address the needs and preferences of the connected consumer by providing them with an array of positive experiences to help them discover products and services that make their lives easier.
Traditional retailers, banks and other consumer-focused enterprises are trying to become customer-centric but with mixed results. A bank might send an offer for a credit card that earns frequent flier miles with a major airline to a consumer who never travels by plane. A department store could share a manufacturer’s rebate for a kitchen appliance with somebody who has already purchased it.
Imagine if companies truly understood their customers as unique individuals, not just their spending habits but also their proclivities.
The problem isn’t a lack of customer information. Companies are drowning in data but still fail to deliver satisfying customer experiences because they can’t leverage the data to connect the dots. Despite their attempts to partner with third parties to offer consumers greater value, they struggle to grasp the context behind their specific situations.
Connected consumer intelligence
Successful brands must reach beyond the products and services they sell to recognise the context and patterns associated with how customers learn about their products and services, purchase and consume what they buy. In other words, brands must deeply understand individuals as human beings — not simply as consumers of particular products.
Inspired by the potential to help clients deliver connected customer experiences, six years ago TCS launched the Digital Software & Solutions group (DS&S), a software products business unit, that delivers deeply satisfying, connected experiences to consumers by generating a new type of insight called Connected Consumer Intelligence.
Our portfolio of Connected Intelligence & Insights software and our Connected Intelligence platform help companies in all industries deliver connected experiences.
Every human being lives their day as a journey. During the narrative arc of their day, they might do household chores, cook meals, travel, work, watch TV, interact on social media or face-to-face with family and friends. Along the way, they also make purchases and consume the stuff they buy. It’s here that our software enables brands to understand the individual mindset behind the purchase-to-consumption journey.
To garner consumer insights, brands need to expand their scope of knowledge. No longer is it enough to gather and use data collected from their own transactions with customers, brands must reach beyond their corporate walls for additional sources of data. The sources could include marketing partners, advertising platforms, open data repositories, IoT networks, social media, and location data from mobile apps.
With the arrival of 5G, advances in AI, and the continuing build-out of the IoT, the connected consumer will navigate the world with more knowledge, awareness and decisiveness than ever before, and tech-savvy brands will succeed by selling the customer experience itself — not just a product or service — and taking a personalised approach to every digital and in-person interaction.
—Author Vikas Sethi is practice director, TCS Digital Software and Solutions group