The Time To Connect With Online Consumers Is Now
The phantom email address. If you're like me, you probably have one.
These are the email accounts we use for the sole purpose of registering for online offers and services. A phantom address allows us to fill in a "required field." Yet we have no intention ever to email friends and colleagues using these accounts. Or even to check their inboxes. If we did, most of what we'd encounter in those inboxes would be mass email blasts from retailers - electronic spam that's of no use to us.
Infosys recently surveyed 5,000 digitally savvy consumers to come up with answers that address vexing issues like why so many of us feel the need to use phantom email accounts. What would it take for you to use your regular email address when registering for deals online? The answers we received as part of the Engaging Digital Consumers survey are a wake-up for major players in the financial services, retail, and healthcare industries. The verdict: In order to get actionable data from your customers -- and for them to use their real email accounts -- your company needs to offer them something attractive in return.
We've crossed the precipice when it comes to Big Data. There's no longer any doubt as to our ability to gather enormous amounts of information from various digital sources. Now the question is how to utilize all that data. How does it transform into the kind of knowledge that our organizations can use to grow? Well, companies need consumers more than ever before. But not just to buy things. They need them to help make sense of all that data.
The EDC survey suggests that consumers are quite willing to share a lot of insights if they perceive the company as working with them towards a goal. That might mean anything from better seats on an airplane to a customized offer for a mortgage. I'm thinking of an airline in particular that has come to know me and members of my family quite well. The company knows where we like to travel and during what time of year. We receive online promotions based on that specific knowledge. Not only will we often take advantage of upgrades or travel deals; we're more than willing to share additional pieces of information about ourselves such as the ages of our children. Not surprisingly, the airline will follow up with deals that focus on children and their favorite destinations.
Think back to the late 1990s, when online retailing was new. Customers tended to be hesitant about using their credit cards online. There's been a significant cultural shift since then because companies have demonstrated that their credit card numbers are safe on their sites. That same kind of cultural shift is beginning to happen with the sharing of personal information online. What we're seeing is the development of a back-and-forth, give-and-take dynamic between companies and customers. Those companies that work hardest for their consumer insights are the ones that will be rewarded in the long run. One of my colleagues estimates that as many as eight out of ten companies are currently not maximizing the information consumers are ready and willing to provide them. Ask yourself what your company is doing to build online relationships with consumers.
That's not to say, of course, that there is a magic pill that any organization can swallow in order to give it instant online credibility. Depending on your industry and client base, you have to utilize the right Information Technology to suit your particular organization. The EDC survey shows that customers largely think that marketing efforts from retailers haven't been effective in speaking to them on a personal level. Exploiting the huge differences in the perceptions between consumer groups - such as how Millenials see access to privacy on social media and how Baby Boomers view it - is one of the keys to innovating through mountains of Big Data.
In the financial services sector, half of all respondents said they wanted banks to provide them with updates and insights through social media and email. Nearly 65 percent of those polled said that they wanted banks to communicate transaction and account information over their smartphones. If you're a bank, does your complement of online tools help you build up a seamless connection with your customers? Banks can use specific digital interactions to devise customized marketing and service functions. By creating closer relationships with individual consumers, successive requests for new information aren't perceived as intrusive. They simply become part of a natural method of gaining actionable consumer insights.
The sooner your enterprise recognizes how to connect with savvy, digital consumers, the sooner you'll have an edge over competitors. The digital paradigm has created market dynamics that, once mastered, will help companies derive new value from their online activities.