IBM just released its latest annual study of CEO attitudes, and an interesting new trend seems to be emerging from the corner office. CEOs are very concerned with engaging in more intimate conversations with customers—in fact, a full 88% are focused on this. Last year, “change” was the main thing keeping CEOs up at night.
Of course, this doesn't necessarily mean the top chief should be spending the day milling about, striking up chatter with customers. But what is on their minds is the ability of their organizations to better understand what customers are saying. Social networking, of course, is the vehicle for making this happen in some way.
But the depth of understanding is more than simply talking to customers through Twitter or Facebook. What companies need is to be able to capture and analyze the data that is flowing from these channels. This is important for insurance companies seeking to offer new products that cater to new customer groups.
Interestingly, IBM parsed out those CEOs and organizations that seemed to be leading the pack, and examined where they stood in regard to customer engagements. “The most successful organizations co-create products and services with customers, and integrate customers into core processes,” the report states. “They are adopting new channels to engage and stay in tune with customers. By drawing more insight from the available data, successful CEOs make customer intimacy their number-one priority.” Among this standout group, CEOs were 18% more likely to be focused on insight and intelligence to achieve strategy. “The emergence of advanced technologies like business analytics can help uncover previously hidden correlations and patterns, and provide greater clarity and certainty when making many business decisions.”
Looking to the customer as a resource for new innovations and approaches is also another emerging trend. The watchword for many forward-thinking CEOs is to “co-create” new product and service innovations with customers. Interestingly, a few months back, I heard the CEO of the UK's largest retailer put it in similar terms. Essentially the best management consulting in the world is free, he pointed out – because it comes from your customers, and their ideas and suggestions.
New consumer groups are emerging in rapidly developing markets, but their attitudes about price and value are largely unknown. Standout organizations are 38% more likely to be pursuing greater insights into this trend. Standouts were also 13% more likely than others to be focused on developing new and different channels.
Joe McKendrick is an author, consultant, blogger and frequent INN contributor specializing in information technology.
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