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Leveraging the Cloud to Improve Your Customer Engagement

10 Jan, 2017

If you’re looking for new approaches and new ideas, information technology is a great place to start. Today, the Cloud is the primary source of IT innovation. The Cloud is agile, elastic, and iterative – an excellent foundation for building customer engagement.

HIGHLIGHTS

Cloud computing can enable you to save on in-house IT costs while at the same time enabling you to offer improved reachability for customers.

Considering the vast amount of data that’s being generated on a daily basis, it’s easier and cheaper to upgrade your Cloud storage space than it is to add new hard-drives to a server rack.

Cloud can assist you in making sense of customer data thanks to an abundance of tools and services. As big data leads the way, you can use it get to know your customers a little bit better.

“The Cloud makes it economically practical to create, deploy and track highly targeted promotions and campaigns that truly engage consumers and get them to experience your products and services more deeply and personally,” says John Dillon, CEO of Engine Yard.

As business leader, you’re already well aware of the importance of customer engagement and in the past, this probably meant running large call-centres, printing newsletters with feedback forms, or perhaps even strategically placing suggestion boxes at customer touchpoints. But, these formats of engagement take time to glean insights from, and more often than not as stand-alone initiatives it’s harder to collate accurate information.

In a Forbes article, Dillon highlights how companies like yours stand to benefit by leveraging Cloud-based tech to truly interact and engage with customers. These are his top tips when it comes to how the Cloud can improve your business’ engagement strategies:

  1. ‘Accelerate innovation and out-innovate competitors’

Dillon says that genuine customer engagement is fuelled by new ideas: “Many companies have no trouble generating ideas – in fact, many companies today have a problem with ‘idea overload’ because they receive an enormous volume of customer feedback via social media and online customer communities. The real issue is that it takes time and resources to identify potentially game-changing ideas and move them from the drawing board to deployment. How do you quickly sort through that pile and get the great ideas into the development funnel sooner?”

How the Cloud can help you: “The Cloud abstracts the complexity out of developing new service-focused applications. It provides ready-to-use, relatively inexpensive infrastructure and resources for creating, developing, testing, deploying, and refining new ideas that improve customer engagement. With the Cloud, you can build and test more ideas faster. Bad ideas ‘fail fast’, so you avoid investing in ideas that simply won’t pan out; good ideas surface sooner, so you can maximise the payoff of your development efforts.”

  1. ‘Cut the cost of developing and deploying new services’

As mentioned above, the Cloud enables companies to scale up or down faster and more cost-effectively, compared to traditional hardware-reliant business solutions. “Does your company produce its own electricity? Does it maintain its own water treatment facility? Did your employees construct your office buildings? Probably not. So why does every business need to acquire and maintain all of the computer infrastructure, development tools, and expertise needed to deliver innovative customer services? The Cloud lets you harness top-calibre computer infrastructure without having to build and maintain it, and pay only for the resources you actually use,” Dillon explains.

How the Cloud can help you: “The savings are substantial. With the Cloud, there is no need to acquire your own computing infrastructure, purchase licenses for development tools, or budget for the bandwidth you’ll require. Nor is it necessary to procure the facilities to house those resources and pay for the power, water, security systems, insurance, and so on. The cash savings are even higher. People are the largest expense in IT, according to Gartner, consuming 41% of the IT budget. With the Cloud, you can take advantage of the expertise of a highly specialised staff without having to find, recruit, hire, train and pay them.”

 

 

QUICK FACT

“‘The Cloud’ is more than just a clever computing term; it’s changing the way the world does business. The Cloud is essentially a virtual platform for storing and accessing information over the Internet, as opposed to having it saved on a computer network or hard drive. Most of us are already using the Cloud on a daily basis, whether we’re aware of it or not. All those photos you upload to Facebook are in the Cloud, along with the Docs and Sheets you share with your colleagues. And every time you use your phone to remotely access data that’s on another device, you’re essentially making use of the Cloud.” – Telkom

  1. ‘Scale up quickly when your new service is a hit’

In the past, when beta or pilot testing a service or solution, it probably meant investing in hardware to run your new software. If your solution turned out to be a hit, you’d have to fast-track the implementation of on-site IT infrastructure to support the spike in demand. But, with the Cloud, you can scale up in a much shorter, more cost-effective time-frame.

How the Cloud can help you: “With the Cloud, you scale by clicking the appropriate boxes on the service provider’s website. You can scale instantly, massively, and seamlessly when one of your new customer engagement web apps is a big hit; and you can scale back down just as quickly and easily,” Dillon adds.

  1. ‘Launch more creative, personalised and successful campaigns’

Thanks to the flexibility and cost-savings offered by Cloud computing, you can take greater creative risks when trying to capture customers. Consumers are bombarded by social media, online ads, television and radio on a daily basis and you’ll need to ensure that every ‘splash’ you make is felt by the consumer.

How the Cloud can help you: “The Cloud makes it economically practical to create, deploy and track highly targeted promotions and campaigns that truly engage consumers and get them to experience your products and services more deeply and personally. Prior to the Cloud, if you wanted to connect with a specific group of consumers – pet owners, rock climbers, etc. – you did your market research and conducted focus groups, formulated your campaign strategy, developed and tested various creative approaches, rolled them out in pilot programs, refined them based on feedback, expanded the program, and tracked the results. It all took forever and cost a small fortune,” Dillon says.

  1. ‘Make it more entertaining for customers to engage with you’

The growth in Cloud tech has paved the way for ‘gamification’ as a customer engagement strategy. Gamification turns outdated one-way engagement into an interactive game where your customers are an active participant. Dillon’s company Engine Yard, for example, has used gamification to transform its customer support ticketing system from a reactive function into an active, unified community where all users can learn, teach, and support one and other.

How the Cloud can help you: “Users are recognised for contributing, creating or commenting on forum documentation, reporting bugs and requesting enhancements. The results include a 50% increase in forum views and a 40% reduction in new ticket resolution time. Our ticket-per-customer ratio has decreased 18% in 90 days.”

 

 

DO THIS

There’s lots to consider when it comes to moving to the Cloud, as easy as it is to use, which means you’ll need to engage with an IT service provider that’ll enable you to assess your business’ needs to deploy a solution that meets your requirements. While the Cloud offers numerous benefits, you still need to ensure your current in-house technologies are able to integrate with the Cloud. Ask for a digital readiness assessment.

 

Resources:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/ciocentral/2012/07/16/how-to-use-the-cloud-to-improve-customer-engagement/2/#249531041e85

Telkom – Digital readiness assessment PDF

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