In today’s high-tech landscape, more customers are eschewing subscriptions or contracts in favor of flexible consumption models, where they pay for what they use. That makes it increasingly important for tech companies to focus on customer service. Since customers aren’t locked into long-term contracts or expensive hardware upgrades, they can leave in an instant, so you need to constantly have your finger on the pulse, and have a system in place that enables you to take action based on customer insights as well as emerging marketplace trends.
Adjusting your marketing and sales processes to fit with this new reality requires an “always on” approach to customer insights. The buying process is essentially “always on” now, and that means you need to be, too, by constantly listening to your customers and engaging with them when it’s necessary.
Because customers are handling more of the research and buying process on their own, the traditional sales or purchase funnel no longer applies. Tech companies should stop thinking of the decision journey as linear. Customers will instead switch back and forth between phases, and at any given moment, they can raise their hands for something: They might need a message from marketing or have an issue for customer service to solve. That’s why tech companies should always be listening to what customers want, who they want it from, and how they want to get it in order to engage with them where they are, with right message.
Adjusting to new flexible consumption models requires maximizing insights from customer data, and traditional market research is only one piece of the puzzle. You may conduct focus groups or quant studies, but ideally you should be generating usage and consumption data that you can mine as a source of insight about issues your customers might have. One tech company we work with, for example, pulls customer data from several different sources: segmentation data, search history that they collect from search and social posts gathered by their customer support team. Then, they explore the effectiveness of marketing programs on what makes customers more likely to convert.
Being “always on” from a data perspective also includes using social listening, traditional market research—both quantitative and qualitative—and your own customer data, as well as third-party sources and field insights. Once you have this data, you’ll need to build engagement models to use it. (We’ll cover how to build these engagement models in the next few blog posts in this series.)
Overall, adjusting to flexible consumption models is less about how you stimulate a sale or a renewal, and more about how you retain customers and have positive interactions with them on an ongoing basis. Understanding your customer enough to point them in right direction will lead to better ROI and significant financial benefits for your company.