By Dana Dunne, CEO of eDreams ODIGEO.
In recent years, we have seen how change cycles seem to get shorter and shorter. As 2023 progresses, it’s already apparent that the business outlook for this year has shifted significantly from just a year ago—the OECD’s March 2023 Economic Outlook Report described an environment of high uncertainty, and current global economic projections certainly seem to highlight its impact. This means that companies in 2023 must adapt to the accelerated pace of an ever-changing environment. So, how can businesses keep up?
Investing In Customer Research
Even if you think you are investing significantly in customer research, you probably need to invest more. As the macroeconomic situation has evolved, so, too, have customer attitudes. Over the last 10 years, customers have become increasingly demanding. They want more—choice, products, value—and optimizing around e-commerce can deliver this “more” by creating vast networks of content to meet consumer demand.
In this instant gratification age, people don’t want to do the leg work themselves, either. They want their options personalized and packaged into consumable target propositions that suit their needs. So, any business hoping to succeed must understand the direction in which customer trends and habits are shifting. If you think you understand your customers well, this could be true, but any data you have will likely be outdated relatively quickly. Companies need to be constantly seeking feedback and evolving their offers quickly and regularly in a world where markets and customer sentiment can fundamentally change overnight.
AI: The Transformative Technology
The role artificial intelligence (AI) has to play in the future of business cannot be overstated. As we move into a world where brands know more about their customers, understanding how best to utilize this knowledge is essential. What AI offers is a way to optimize your proposition around this window into each customer faster and more accurately than ever before.
That insight can be used to build and strengthen individual relationships between a brand and its customers, meeting needs and deepening loyalties through personalized propositions that connect the people who purchase with the companies that create. This can include showcasing tailored options, delivering customized service or restructuring internal operations around customer requirements, but the key is that the level of information now available is a game changer for smart businesses looking to tech-enable for growth.
Technology should always serve a distinct purpose. With access to AI and the knowledge to leverage it, a company can augment their current offering in line with market and customer insights. For example, our business is using AI to introduce an enhanced range of e-commerce benefits across the booking process. But generative AI can also support businesses beyond enabling customer-facing solutions: It can streamline decision-making processes, shorten IT and development cycles, gather data that is able to keep pace with change, and anticipate scenarios, thereby allowing companies to adapt their strategies and operations accordingly.
Customer outcomes based on this informed, up-to-the-minute perspective can be greatly improved. As AI technology is embraced and its “hive learning” gains momentum, businesses can use this data to outpace competitors and position themselves—and their products or services—ever more convincingly as being uniquely suited to the people who buy them.
Using Technology To Create Truly Personalized Experiences
A report by McKinsey shows that 71% of consumers expect companies to deliver personalized interactions, and 76% get frustrated when this isn’t delivered. It’s important for businesses to adapt to these trends and capitalize on changing market dynamics before slower-moving competitors. Customers want to be heard, and they demand that businesses listen, learn and respond accordingly.
AI may be an answer to this requirement. Applied appropriately, it can act as a critical aspect of how businesses provide customers with a tailored experience that outstrips what a more traditional process can replicate. For example, our company is using AI to create personalized recommendations for members based on their stated preferences. Not only does this create customer satisfaction, but it also optimizes conversion for our partners and allows us to move away from a transactional client relationship. Expanding to cover the customer’s entire transaction life cycle can allow you to find numerous additional opportunities to connect with them, from showcasing all available choices to augmenting their purchase to receiving feedback.
Whatever your industry, consider what best practice looks like for the integration of generative AI into your services. In practice, the possibilities for what generative AI can offer are limitless, but they should always speak to what customers really need, whether that be a unique, tailored experience, a chatbot that already understands their preferences, or simply offering faster ways for customers to find the best deals.
Businesses that couple technology and customer insight into meaningful actions should be well placed to succeed. But in my experience, in order to benefit from these innovations, you have to fundamentally regear all aspects of your business, from how you account to how you design and market your customer experience. I believe tech-enabling purposefully, and with a clear goal on the final destination, will be fundamental to success for businesses over the next few years.
Looking To The Future
Business leaders need to accept that change is inevitable and that the ability to thrive means embracing change rather than conservatively capitulating when no other option is available. This is not change for change’s sake, but rather a recalibration of business as we know it in order to become business as it should and will be. And I expect to see more success stories as more business leaders become willing to look at change holistically and take the informed leap.
Forbes Business Council is the foremost growth and networking organization for business owners and leaders. Do I qualify?
Read the full article here