June - 2013 - issue > In My Opinion

Serving the "Autonomous Customer": How Technology is Supercharging Customers

Sudhir Narang
Managing Director-BT India
Thursday, May 30, 2013
Sudhir Narang
British Telecommunications (BT), wholly owned subsidiary of BT Group plc (NYSE:BT, LSE: BT-A.L), is a provider of communications services and solutions, serving customers in more than 170 countries. Headquartered in London, the company has a current market capital of $22.23 billion.

Technology is accelerating the way we shop, bank and communicate. This change is driven by alignment of new-age shopper's expectations from the retailers; especially online retailers that are setting the highest benchmark of service, price transparency and availability of stock. In order to get to their goal of a good bargain and the right product, the modern-day customer tends to hop from one channel to the other, virtually creating a parallel 'omni-channel' world.

This is leading the world to what organizations refer to as the rise of the "autonomous customer" – customers who are mobile, internet and technology-savvy, are loyal to no one brand, and may cut organizations out of the dialogue process completely when considering their next purchase.

According to a joint study by Avaya and BT Global Services titled "Meeting the demands of customers in the future", for an autonomous customer, shopping online starts by seeking advice on a search engine or a social media site rather than an organization's official website. These customers (which are over 65 percent) will continually change their preferred contact channel depending on where they are and what they are doing. They are no longer loyal and will buy more from companies that make it easier for them to do business with.

The research offers some interesting insights into the evolving mind of the customer identifying two ways that organizations can respond to the autonomous customer - reduce customer effort and integrate service across multiple channels.

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Reader's comments(1)
1:Very aptly written, Sudhir. Yes, the demands of the customers are changing and as you said, many are not necessarily loyal to one brand. I think that this makes it difficult to come up with one strategy; however, I also see that it makes service/solution providers more creative to meet the demands. Consider many iPhone users who were once loyal to Apple are now moving to Samsung as it is able to meet their demands in usability, price and yet give a style statement.
Posted by: Chetan Nagaonkar - 06th Jun 2013
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