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Innovation

Innovation to exceed ‘Customer Expectations’

By Ghazi Qarout

 

What customers think and feel about a company and its products is a key aspect of business success. To excel in business today, companies must focus on identifying customer needs and work to create an experience beyond their expectations as part of the ‘customer loyalty’ formula. Conventional wisdom says that customers are more loyal to companies that go ‘above and beyond.’ Organizations that take an approach to exceeding customer expectations focus on defining and executing very specific proactive strategies. A company has to constantly innovate its offerings in terms of products and services, delivery channels, and processes to win customer loyalty.

In today’s competitive world, organizations are striving to deliver a superior and differentiated experience to retain their customers. The complexity of the IT infrastructure has been increasing exponentially; therefore, one of the biggest challenges facing enterprises is meeting the soaring expectations of their existing and potential customers. Customers have come to expect easy, immediate access to innovative services, and this, in turn, has put pressure on organizations to deliver a similar level of innovation.

Innovative products are based on sound IT-backed solutions and scalable IT infrastructure, therefore, a company has to be technologically advanced and adaptive to be able to compete with the market and satisfy customer requirements.

Embedding technology in the products and services has profoundly changed many industries’ standards of competition in producing goods and services. More and more service firms (such as banks and brokerage firms) are providing IT-based service options to their customers. These services are expected to bring benefits such as improved product and service quality, higher productivity, and improved financial performance. Innovation helps meet customer expectations by increasing convenience, collecting service performance information for management use, and offering additional services. Service delivery via the advent of new products and options for various channels of delivery through the use of information technology has emerged as an important attribute in satisfying customers.

Now, by increasing IT investment in CRM technologies, firms can reach out to customers and provide value-added services. Information technology helps a firm to differentiate itself not only through price but also through product innovation, shorter time to market, and superior customer service. IT adoption can help a firm provide customized and innovation-based solutions, thus enhancing its differentiation advantage. Aided by the Internet‘s interactivity features – e-mail, registration forms, discussion groups, and customer communities – a firm can easily collect customer data, which includes demographic data, product comments, and potential demands for certain products/services. This data can provide a good foundation for the firm to customize existing products in innovative ways, which helps firms differentiate their products and services from their competitors or concentrate on a niche market. Technology also provides an opportunity for firms to establish their brand image. Firms can use technology to reinforce their identities, the differentiation of which can help build customer loyalty, one of the most powerful competitive weapons in capturing market and customer share.

Advancement in technology allows companies to not only connect with customers on an individual level but also to provide them individualized products – in turn increasing customer satisfaction. The adoption of such technologies enables organizations to develop a ‘learning relationship’ with customers to predict their demands on an individual level according to changing conditions, affecting the demand of products.

The combined use of technology and customer information for product customization is considered increasingly important for customer satisfaction.

‘Personalization’ is a toolbox of technologies and application features used in the design of an end-user experience. Features classified as personalization are wide-ranging – from simple display of the end-user’s name on a web page, to complex catalog navigation and product customization based on deep models of users’ needs and behaviors. Personalization helps to increase customer satisfaction, promote customer loyalty by establishing a one-to-one relationship between a product and its user, and increase sales by providing experiences tailored to the customer’s individual needs.

The goal is to better serve the customer by anticipating his needs, customizing products and services, and establishing a long-term relationship — encouraging the customer to remain loyal to the company and its products.


A strategic visionary leader in the field of financial services’ Information Technology, with a strong focus on IT transformation, strategy, change management, innovation, solutions, and cost management, Ghazi has led several dynamic teams riding the exponential growth curve of the IT infrastructure in the Middle East over the past thirty years. Starting his career in Jordan in 1983, Ghazi has worked for many years with prominent financial institutions in the region. As an avid supporter of the ICT industry, Ghazi was heavily involved with the Jordan Computer Society and chaired the institution for two years. Ghazi has also been a Trustee of the highly reputable Princess Sumaya University for Technology.

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