IT Matters: Your firm’s most important data

by Kevin Squires
Kevin Squires is Vice President, Business Technology for the Econo-Rack Group of companies (Konstant, RediRack, Econo-Rack, Technirack.)
Kevin Squires is Vice President, Business
Technology for the Econo-Rack Group of companies
(Konstant, RediRack, Econo-Rack, Technirack.)

As the landscape within the manufacturing sector faces even more competition, it is evident that companies can no longer afford to compete on price alone. Newcomers with little overhead can easily duplicate many products and offer them at prices established companies can’t come close to matching. Pricing is no longer a sustainable competitive advantage and will only significantly erode the profit margins over the long term.

So how can a company compete? There is one thing you have that other companies do not—unique information on the customers you deal with. Companies usually have customer feedback, customer transaction data and other distinctive data that nobody else has. This data is gold!

Organizations can use this customer data to gather insights and develop a segmentation strategy that provides their customers with a unique, relevant experience that talks to the areas important to the customer.

Why talk to customers exclusively about capacity when their real interest lies with the safety of your product? Engage your customers on topics important to them and you have created a differentiator. According to Gartner, in 2016 89 percent of companies expect to compete primarily on the basis of customer experience.

IT leaders are in a great position to exploit this data since they see where all the customer data touch points are in the organization and the various channels. By combining these data repositories across the company, it is possible to obtain a full spectrum view of each customer; to establish a profile or segment that can be used by the various business units to put the company in a prime position to utilize the data effectively and drive business growth.

For example, many companies gather customer feedback on how they are doing but fail to share that with the sales and marketing groups to arm them with key information levers the sales representative can use when visiting with the customer next—to show the company listens and/or to possibly create up-sell or cross-sell opportunities.

IT leaders can also help the organization by using business intelligence tools and analytics to identify customer hurdles that may be present, and assisting the organization in addressing them so the customer has no obstacles standing in the way of making a purchase or resolving any issues.

Looking at the different customer channel behaviors can also help uncover the impact of targeted marketing campaigns on various customer segments, allowing marketing to better optimize the strategic mix between physical and digital advertising.

In the end, it is about using what tools you can to help increase the company-customer bond that extends well beyond who offers the best price. Fulfilling the expectations of your customer goes far beyond selling to them for the best price.

It is about what else you can provide that helps differentiate you from your competition and it is about how well you can establish a meaningful and relevant rapport with your customer base. Using your customer data can help bring multiple strategies to light on how to do this, especially when you look across all of the data channels.

And the best part is, once you establish that customer bond, that customer is usually yours for the long term despite what might be the higher price they pay. And isn’t that what it’s all about?