What is real-time analytics?
Real-time analytics refers to the capability of utilizing the entire data of the enterprise along with other resources as and when required. Methods of dynamic analysis and reporting included in this process are based on data generated just less than a minute prior to the actual use of data. It is also termed as real-time data integration or real-time business intelligence.
Technology improves business operations
Few decades ago, business operations had a traditional outlook with no Internet, email, smartphones, or mobile marketing. The modern world of communications is instantaneous; huge volume of information is sent across the internet, email, and various other tools used by enterprises. Technological advancements have been instrumental in improving operations and business processes for companies of all sizes. Technology has empowered small businesses to transform into big global businesses. Let’s see how.
It is essential for small enterprises to have cell phones. Employees constantly stay in touch with the owner to give a timely response to the customers. Smartphones have raised the bar of customer service with access to Internet, email and business apps on the move. Social networking and text messaging helps small enterprises connect with the target audiences and even improves the internal communication across the entire organization.
You do not have to limit yourself to print ads in order to reach your target audience – existing as well as new customers. Different methods of Internet Marketing include an informational website, search engine marketing, and online sales. Email marketing is another effective tool that is a low-cost approach to reach a larger audience; you can send monthly newsletters, business updates, or discount coupons. mCommerce, an extension of eCommerce, is a new frontier to reach your target audience by advertising on mobile apps, text messaging, and gamification to update customers about the new offerings and latest news about your enterprise in a fun and entertaining manner.
Enterprises must churn productivity from their technology tools and operations to increase the efficiency of employees and lesser turnaround time for different tasks. Tasks may range from printing materials for an ad campaign or customer service through online chat or via email. You need the employees to remain focused while using technology and more importantly use it efficiently and appropriately to save time.
Often, a phone call may prove to be more productive than writing an email. Proper IT support in terms of hardware and updated software applications helps employees deliver their peak performance at all times.
Technology helps enterprises build a close relationship with their customers. You can answer customer queries using emails or offer instant assistance through online chat. Site visitors can get real-time assistance as and when they are navigating a business website. Call centers must be equipped with latest phone equipments and headsets to increase the efficiency of customer service agents. Customers should get a choice to contact your company 24/7. Although technology empowers your employees however you must not overlook the human element. Training employees to deliver efficient customer service is a continuous process; your employees must be equipped with necessary skills to use the latest technology.
Telecommuting is one of the major benefits offered to employees at the modern enterprises. Colleagues are able to communicate from different geographical regions and at different time zones with the help of email, online tools, as well as mobile computing devices. Employees can also share documents in the digital form and upload it on Dropbox. You can also organize webinars and give presentations to your employees. In addition, you can upload training videos on YouTube and share it across the entire organization to keep every employee informed about the organizational processes.
The simplest conferencing method utilized by global businesses is teleconferencing. However, with the advancement in technology, modern enterprises are harnessing the power of the Internet to practice latest trends of web conferencing. Tools like Google hangouts, Skype video calls integrate web cams, audio tools, and online meeting spaces, thereby developing an extremely interactive environment.
The audience members can see each other, share their views, exchange documents, work on problems together, and recreate the experience of meeting in-person thus going beyond the barriers of geographical limitations. In this way, SMEs can expand customer base and reach a global audience easily.
How IT can improve customer service
Information Technology has offered several solutions to enterprises that help them improve business efficiency and customer service.
- Email: You can send emails to customers notifying them about your new deals and offers. Every customer is looking for a cheaper alternative; when a customer sees the tag of 50% discount on any product, he/she will rush to purchase the product at a discount price. Take advantage of this weakness; create tailored emails with the details of promotional discounts and deals. Suggest deals that expire within a limited period; such deals develop trust and urge customers to buy instantly. In addition, special deals make your customers feel that you care for them. For instance, Amazon.com is a good example of how you can utilize IT tools to improve customer experience. Once you buy a product from this online store, the company can track your interests when you revisit the store; cookies gather details related to your personal information which can be used to develop exclusive shopping deals for specific customers and suggest relevant items (as per previous purchase) at a lower cost.
- Collect customer data: IT solutions help enterprises in customer profiling. Tailor your products and services to suit their needs. In this way, you can deliver the best customer experience on time and even at a reasonable cost. It saves money as you do not have to spend much in creating expensive advertising campaigns. As a business, creating a persuasive ad does not fulfil the purpose if your offering cannot meet customer expectations.
For collecting relevant data, survey forms must be loaded on your official website. Secondly, a ‘Help’ section must be available on the website so that customers can lodge complaints or concerns regarding your product or service. Listening to customer feedback helps enterprises improve their value proposition. You may also use feedback tools like uservoice.com.
- Customer service over phone as well as online support: A business should always respond to customer queries timely. Auto-responders or robots are not favorable for providing customer support. A human representative should be available 24/7 to provide able assistance to your customers. A well-organized customer service team requires experienced professionals to handle customer queries well.
For instance you are providing email support to a customer. You can prepare an email template that can be used by the customer service representative to reply to the customer. If it is a technical problem, a representative from your technical team can address that complaint and create an appropriate support mail from the company’s account.
- Easy payment gateways: Making payments for online purchases is very easy with the help of technology. To improve your level of customer service, you can offer several payment options like electronic card payments, wire transfer or payment gateways like Paypal, CitrusPay etc. For instance, Paypal is regarded as a safe method of online payments because users do not have to provide their financial details on every website.
- Building trust and confidence: Always remember, before doing business a customer always conducts a background check of your company. Location-based services using Google Maps and iBeacons will help you develop a good profile under ‘About Us’ tab. The helpline number and company email address must be clearly visible on your website. You must allow customers to post testimonials so that you win the trust and confidence of new customers.
Role of Real-Time Analytics
Customer loyalty drives business success, and real-time marketing is a valuable tool for you. Technology and business analytics support real-time marketing which helps you arrive at quicker decisions thus improving overall experience, timeliness, business value, and convenience for the customers.
However, if you want to realize the full potential of real-time analytics, you must understand few of the key principles governing real-time marketing.
- Identifying and prioritizing when and where to use real-time analytics. Will you create customer value by providing customer-facing processes? Else, will you improve the marketing performance and efficiency by enhancing marketing operations?
- What is the cost-benefit of implementing real-time analytics? It is not only a technology solution; you need to consider the factors of cultural implications, processes, infrastructure needs, and people.
- You must understand the overall customer ecosystem and what role you play. Understand various elements affecting the lifecycle of a customer’s buying decision. What interactions directly come under your control? What are the key takeaways from a customer interaction? What are the points to be careful?
- Self-assessment of your analytical capabilities: The in-house technology available in your enterprise will define the extent of real-time analytics that can be implemented to improve customer experience. You can create different analytical models like predictive, scoring etc. for smoother integration of vendors and partners.
Big Data poses the challenge of filtering huge volumes of data to acquire relevant customer insights. Establishing real-time analytics solution requires you to define the type of application – customer facing or marketing facing processes. This distinction helps enterprises take practical steps to maintain a competitive edge using real-time analytics.