The Rise Of The Digital Customer Should Not Be Feared, It’s An Opportunity


The rise of mobile technology and social media means that consumers today have never been more connected or more influential. With smartphone penetration expected to reach 90 per cent in the next three years and the advent of mainstream 4G services signalling a much faster mobile experience, this is only set to increase.

Consumers using connected devices can choose how and when they interact with a business and expect instant gratification which usually means a quick, convenient online service. What’s more, people are more likely to take recommendations on products or services via social media channels before making a decision. The evolution of digital and mobile technology has sparked a power-shift – not only between businesses and consumers but also between consumers and local government departments delivering public services.

But this power in the hands of the consumer is not something that should be feared. Yes, there are challenges, but I believe the rise of the digital customer provides three clear opportunities for businesses and local government departments. Firstly, to understand customers better, secondly to use this insight to tailor and personalise services and thirdly, to deliver instantaneous services. Capitalising on these opportunities will not only drive customer loyalty and satisfaction, but for the private sector it will also serve to boost growth.

Digital insight is the key to understanding consumers better

Smarter use of insight available through digital engagement can help British businesses and government departments to understand more about their customers than ever before. O2’s Priority Moments local programme uses data and analytics tools to help independent businesses understand their local customers’ behaviour and needs. This insight is then used to inform marketing plans and offer targeted promotions – directly boosting revenue, driving customer loyalty and increase footfall in their stores.

Personalised service and added value

Businesses and local governments can use insight to deliver personalised services, along with added value to improve customer experience and differentiate from competitors. Debenhams recently introduced free Wi-Fi into its stores, not only to allow customers to access the web or communicate with friends on social media, but through a mobile app customers get access to a huge variety of information and personalised promotions while they are in store. They’ve had over a million downloads of the app and customers are staying in store longer as a result.

Instant gratification is easier than you think

Consumers increasingly expect greater levels of sophistication from businesses and public services when it comes to the way information is used and services delivered. Islington Council in London, for example, uses Twitter to engage directly with local residents on a range of new council initiatives. From recycling and rubbish collection to local sports facilities; Twitter is enabling the council to deliver targeted, real-time service to the local community.

It’s important to remember that digital engagement isn’t just about products and services, it’s about inspiring change and introducing new ways of doing things – different, personalised ways of interacting with customers. The technology is available to open new communication channels – it is now up to businesses and local government to make the best use of it and embrace the rise of the digital customer.

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Ben Dowd

Ben Dowd is 02's Business Sales Director in the UK. Ben’s responsibility covers SME, Corporate, Indirect and MNC sales as well as Corporate Marketing and customer retention for SME. In addition Ben represents O2 Europe on the MNC Committee. Before the business sales role Ben was head of indirect consumer channels for O2 UK and held this post between 2002-2005. Ben worked in the Finance directorate before joining sales and held various roles including Head of consumer and commercial Finance. He has been with the business 12 years and is a fellow of the chartered institute of Management accountants.