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How to lose your customers: keep them frustrated

Innovation Summit gathers global experts to provide insights into data-driven strategies and the latest analytics and technology trends and innovations

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Recent research commissioned by Experian, with Forrester Consulting, revealed that most customers (51%) are so fed-up with slow sign-up processes that many will simply abandon their application altogether.

This was one of the key messages delivered by Experian South Africa at its annual Innovation Summit in Johannesburg recently, when it discussed why investment in technology and analytics is a must if business is going to meet rising customer expectations.

“We continue to live through a period of significant economic and political uncertainty and that is putting extra pressure on organisations to make efficient and effective decisions,” said Mark Wells, chief customer officer at Experian SA. “Acquiring a more sophisticated view of our customers’ behaviour and the markets we serve is critical, if we are going to survive and thrive in these unpredictable times,.

“Customer retention is one key element of this challenge. Customers no longer expect but demand a seamless end-to-end customer journey when they are dealing with organisations of all shapes and sizes, across all platforms. The secret to keeping up with their demand lies in harnessing the potential of data-driven technology.”

Offering a frictionless and fluid customer journey is vital for any business that is serious about keeping their customers happy in a fast-paced digital world. According to the Forrester Consulting research, 74% of businesses say that improving customer experience is a critical or high priority, but 28% admit they are not sure they offer a friction-free service to customers. And just 35% are using automation to help them make accurate decisions about new customers, which can radically speed up processes by removing the need for human involvement.

“The good news is that the solution is there to solve this problem. It all starts with the data,” said Wells. “By combining access to traditional and non-traditional credit data with complementary data science and machine learning tools, organisations can now access even smarter insights to understand their market and make faster, more accurate decisions, even if a customer’s circumstances change during a time of financial uncertainty.”

He said organisations need to access the widest possible data universe, encompassing internal and external data sources, traditional, non-traditional, structured and unstructured, current and historic data. They need to use data science, machine learning and on-demand analytics to reveal new and unique data attributes and patterns of consumer behaviour over time.

“By doing all this, it’s possible to widen their prospect pools by identifying new, underserved markets and customer segments without changing overall risk appetite. It also removes the costs, risks and complexity of building an integrated in-house data and analytics ecosystem,” he said.

According to the Forrester research, 82% of businesses say that they know how important data, analytics and AI are to their prospects, while 71% plan to invest in advanced analytics and automation as a priority in the next 12 months.

Said Wells: “It’s encouraging that so many businesses have identified investment in new technologies in the coming year, because it will enable them to identify the right customers and serve them far more effectively. Taking some of the pressure off in the process.”

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Millennials turning 40: NOW will you stop targeting them?

It’s one of the most overused terms in youth marketing, and probably the most inaccurate, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK

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One of the most irritating buzzwords embraced by marketers in recent years is the term “millennial”. Most are clueless about its true meaning, and use it as a supposedly cool synonym for “young adults”. The flaw in this targeting – and the word “flaw” here is like calling the Grand Canyon a trench – is that it utterly ignores the meaning of the term. “Millennials” are formally defined as anyone born from 1980 to 2000, meaning they have typically come of age after the dawn of the millennium, or during the 21st century.

Think about that for a moment. Next year, the millennial will be formally defined as anyone aged from 20 to 40. So here you have an entire advertising, marketing and public relations industry hanging onto a cool definition, while in effect arguing that 40-year-olds are youths who want the same thing as newly-minted university graduates or job entrants.

When the communications industry discovers just how embarrassing its glib use of the term really is, it will no doubt pivot – millennial-speak for “changing your business model when it proves to be a disaster, but you still appear to be cool” – to the next big thing in generational theory.

That next big thing is currently Generation Z, or people born after the turn of the century. It’s very convenient to lump them all together and claim they have a different set of values and expectations to those who went before. Allegedly, they are engaged in a quest for experience, compared to millennials – the 19-year-olds and 39-olds alike – supposedly all on a quest for relevance.

In reality, all are part of Generation #, latching onto the latest hashtag trend that sweeps social media, desperate to go viral if they are producers of social content, desperate to have caught onto the trend before their peers.

The irony is that marketers’ quest for cutting edge target markets is, in reality, a hangover from the days when there was no such thing as generational theory, and marketing was all about clearly defined target markets. In the era of big data and mass personalization, that idea seems rather quaint.

Indeed, according to Grant Lapping, managing director of DataCore Media, it no longer matters who brands think their target market is.

“The reason for this is simple: with the technology and data digital marketers have access to today, we no longer need to limit our potential target audience to a set of personas or segments derived through customer research. While this type of customer segmentation was – and remains – important for engagements across traditional above-the-line engagements in mass media, digital marketing gives us the tools we need to target customers on a far more granular and personalised level.

“Where customer research gives us an indication of who the audience is, data can tell us exactly what they want and how they may behave.”

Netflix, he points out, is an example of a company that is changing its industry by avoiding audience segmentation, once the holy grail of entertainment.

In other words, it understands that 20-year-olds and 40-year-olds are very different – but so is everyone in between.

* Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram on @art2gee

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Robots coming to IFA

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Robotics is no longer about mechanical humanoids, but rather becoming an interface between man and machine. That is a key message being delivered at next month’s IFA consumer electronics expo in Berlin. An entire hall will be devoted to IFA Next, which will not only offer a look into the future, but also show what form it will take.

The concepts are as varied as the exhibitors themselves. However, there are similarities in the various products, some more human than others, in the fascinating ways in which they establish a link between fun, learning and programming. In many cases, they are aimed at children and young people.

The following will be among the exhibitors making Hall 26 a must-visit:

Leju Robotics (Stand 115) from China is featuring what we all imagine a robot to be. The bipedal Aelos 1s can walk, dance and play football. And in carrying out all these actions it responds to spoken commands. But it also challenges young researchers to apply their creativity in programming it and teaching it new actions. And conversely, it also imparts scholastic knowledge.

Cubroid (Stand 231, KIRIA) from Korea starts off by promoting an independent approach to the way it deals with tasks. Multi-functional cubes, glowing as they play music, or equipped with a tiny rotating motor, join together like Lego pieces. Configuration and programming are thus combined, providing a basic idea of what constitutes artificial intelligence.

Spain is represented by Ebotics (Stand 218). This company is presenting an entire portfolio of building components, including the “Mint” educational program. The modular system explains about modern construction, programming and the entire field of robotics.

Elematec Corporation (Stand 208) from Japan is presenting the two-armed SCARA, which is not intended to deal with any tasks, but in particular to assist people with their work.

Everybot (Stand 231, KIRIA) from Japan approaches the concept of robotics by introducing an autonomous floor-cleaning machine, similar to a robot vacuum cleaner.

And Segway (Stand 222) is using a number of products to explain the modern approach to battery-powered locomotion.

IFA will take place at the Berlin Exhibition Grounds (ExpoCenter City) from 6 to 11 September 2019. For more information, visit www.ifa-berlin.com

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