Customers have higher expectations than ever these days. And yet they don’t. They want more, and they strongly suspect they should be getting what they want, along with more personalized service. But they’re still surprised – and pleased enough to tell their friends – when you actually come through for them.
When you put a rugged tablet PC in the hands of your front line staff, you’re making sure they have the resources they need to meet customer expectations. And when the resources behind that tablet PC reflect your latest business intelligence, you can make significant strides toward developing stronger customer loyalty, even in today’s highly competitive marketplace.
Business intelligence is more than gathering data about your customers. You have to actually do something with that information, and that’s where most retailers are still struggling. It’s not enough to know about your customers, in the past sense, you have to be able to predict what they’ll do next, so you can put the right product and offer in front of them, at the right time.
Taking advantage of the data you collect requires a systematic, comprehensive approach. You need to:
- Start by re-assessing your current situation. The information may be there, but you’re probably not analyzing it – or more to the point, integrating it -- well enough with the rest of your data to conduct effective predictive analysis. You need a fully integrated system.
- Get everyone from the CEO on down to commit to making fully integrated business intelligence systems a company priority. Without overt support from the top, it’s too easy to let former priorities or other distractions weaken your resolve. Committing to the right tools that support strategic information flow is essential, too. A tablet PC is indispensible because it puts intelligence at everyone’s fingertips.
- Give them the information they need to make things happen at the customer level. Shoppers arrive at your place armed with product knowledge obtained online, recommendations from friends, knowledge of competitors’ pricing and availability – everything they need to purchase somewhere else. If you don’t have exactly what they want, right now, at a price that works for them, you simply must be able to resolve that issue without them walking away. The only way to do that is by putting information directly in the hands of your customer-contact personnel, and giving them the authority to use it.
- Consider implementing SaaS (software-as-a-solution) applications that facilitate faster, more detailed data capture, retrieval and analysis. SaaS and cloud-based applications can streamline all your processes, with dramatically lower cost.
- Make it easy to capture and use the information. Your people work most efficiently and effectively when they’re on familiar ground, and it’s no different for business intelligence. Real-time capability is good, but a visual format that presents information simply, is easy to read on a mobile device such as a rugged tablet PC and offers user-specific tailoring is most helpful.
- Spread the wealth. You’re gathering more valuable information than ever, and with the above-mentioned changes you’re poised to use that information, so make it available to everyone on your team. That includes sales associates, store managers, district managers, merchandising managers, space planners and those folks responsible for security and loss prevention. With a tablet PC in hand, everyone has instant access to exactly the resources they need.
To successfully consolidate your business intelligence and extract the most productive value from it, choose a vendor that understands consumers but also how retailers function. You’ll need both to strengthen customer loyalty as well as improve profitability. Otherwise you could fall prey to more adept competitors.