Why smarter commerce matters

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By Victor Silvino Self-professed addicts or fans of iced Frappucinos may be aware that getting a coffee at Starbucks is not simply a buy-and-sell transaction. With over five million fans on Facebook, Starbucks regularly holds discussions on coffee appreciation, announces weather conditions near local stores, and has even designed and launched a new instant blend, Starbuck Via– through social media. One promotion via Facebook and Twitter drove more than one million customers to its stores in a single day. Apart from retail, companies in industries such as telecommunications, and banking, too have realized the importance of positive customer relationships and consequently embraced the need to engage customers wherever they are. Change in dynamics In the Communications Service Providers (CSP) industry, social networking and mobile commerce have dramatically changed the dynamics between buyer and seller. To succeed, CSPs must put relationships with customer at the center of their operations, using two — way communications and synchronizing their plans with their customers? in order to profit from the information explosion. A real life example is at Globe Telecom, a leading mobile communication services provider in the Philippines. With more than 27 million subscribers, Globe implemented a program that enabled its marketing people to rapidly and cost-effectively create service offerings from reusable service components. It recognized that the most effective way to attract and retain the value-conscious Philippine mobile customer was to spur action through time-limited marketing promotions ? for example, reload HSDPA service with P30 and also get 24 hours unlimited SMS product. Call it opportunistic marketing in the extreme. Globe was able to drive revenue improvement from hundreds of simultaneous targeted promotions, which are enabled by the integration of customer intelligence, behavior segmentation, profit simulation and promotion execution ? all delivered through an integrated and automated solution. Traditional strengths are no longer sufficient. Today, customers have an unprecedented level of power over businesses. Companies who want to stay competitive need to invest in customer experience capabilities that work across all channels where possible. Customer first Technology-driven shifts in consumer behavior blew up Blockbuster, toppled Tower Records, and bankrupted Borders. To survive the shift, businesses need to put the customer at the heart of their operations. This means that you need to align all your processes ? from design to manufacturing, from sale to customer service ? around customer preferences; essentially creating an organization capable of delivering smarter commerce. Waiting for monthly reports from the field or results from surveys can slow down the decision making process. Invest in social media listening programs and business analytics to help you gain insights from engagements with your customers on the Web, and their behavior at your outlets. The graveyard list of companies that still relied on ?business-as-usual? is getting longer by the day. The age of the customer requires you to re-align your organization to deliver smarter commerce – the ability to understand your customers? needs in real time, and to deliver experiences that resonate with them across all channels. Thanks to smartphones and free social media apps, customers have become more instrumented and interconnected than ever before. Companies need to react to their needs for continued survival. The author is the country manager for software group at IBM Philippines ]]>

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