25 years of the internet has changed the way we do business. Of course, this is way too broad of a subject to cover off neatly, so let’s shift the focus to the way technology has changed the way we interact with customers over the past decade.
Cast your mind back to 2005 – Instagram didn’t exist, nor did Twitter, and Facebook and YouTube had been up and running for less than twelve months. Apple hadn’t released their first iPhone, and Chip and Pin payments were only just entering UK shops. So, how have the interim years seen technology advance, and what happened to our customer interactions?
- Smartphones and social networks allow us to connect with customers
Now in 2016, technology is enabling us to keep in touch with our customers, wherever they are in the world and whatever they’re doing. For instance, an email newsletter can drop into thousands of people’s inboxes at the click of a button.
We can pay for targeted ads to appear when our customers are clicking around the internet, and our companies’ tweets now fall alongside the tweets of consumers’ best friends and favourite celebrities. We’re more present in the minds of our customers than we ever used to be with our logos, content and product seen by the masses in a way we couldn’t have dreamt of before.
- … and customers expect to be able to get in touch with us anywhere, any time
On the flip side, modern technology has created an expectation that our customers will be able to talk to us whenever they want and wherever they are, whatever we’re doing.
Whilst this is great for building relationships, it’s also meant that we’ve had to invest in employees to man social media networks, reply to comments within specified timeframes and handle negative reviews with swift and sophisticated PR work. An increasing number of websites are offering live chat, and customers are happy to take to the internet to let you know if they’re dissatisfied with your reply.
- Software has generated honest feedback from consumers
Technology is also helping us to find unearth genuine likes and dislikes rather than making speculations – however well informed we thought we were. Nowadays, smart businesses are involving focus groups and sending out questionnaires to find out what their customers think.
You can create online surveys to find out the response to questions such as “what would you add to our recipe if you could get your hands on it?” or “if you could adapt our product at all, what would you change?”. Survey software like this allows for frank, candid feedback, helping businesses to evolve and improve.
- Technology has brought our brand closer to our customers
A particular challenge companies used to have was that it was hard to share our brand goals and value beyond our employees. Nowadays, gadgets and social mediums have helped us show our personality and communicate who we really are to our customers. Innocent is a great example of this: anyone following Innocent’s social media profiles now has a good understanding of what makes the company tick, what their unique personality is, and how their ethos supports great customer service.