Predicting Customer Behaviour is Essential

“The best predictor of future behaviour is relevant past behaviour” – Dr. Phil

Why is predicting customer behaviour such a big deal? The most obvious answer would be –because customer needs, preferences, and circumstances change swiftly. There is no one set pattern of how customers may behave and hence it should be one of the prime responsibilities of a company to foresee customer behaviour. This is essential not just to keep customers happy with personalized products and great experiences, but also for the company to save time, money, and effort by creating offerings that customers would immediately accept and use. The good news is that the advancements in technology have brought several sophisticated and accurate tools through which, companies can analyse past behaviour and envisage how customers would respond to them in the future.

Predicting customer behaviour is like a magical ability a company possesses to create a roadmap – vital to enhance its success and change the future for itself and its customers. The fact is that every company has these ‘magical powers’ but only few actually use them to benefit. Using this ability in marketing allows a company to make emotional accurate and intelligent decisions, all the while building a growth mind-set. It can enhance customer experiences consistently, ultimately leading to customer loyalty and brand advocacy. As a customer, you would know that if a company seems to be doing everything right for you and is able to meet proactively, your needs even before you ask, you would be more likely to stick with the company.

Is your company adept at predicting customer behaviour or does it fall behind customer expectations? If your company is unable to envisage even slightly, what customers could expect, it could mean that data is not managed properly and neither does your company have the tools to use the vast repository of customer data to advantage. This would keep your company always, in a reactive mode – never fast enough for customers. You could lose to your competitors who may be using technology and data as a means to judge proactively the next ‘move’ or behaviour of their customers – your customers would soon become their customers.

There is actually no excuse for a company to remain challenged in predicting customer behaviour and customers know that. So much data is available – unprecedented amounts, given the many online channels and the millions of users spending a crazy number of hours on them. Research shows that on an average people spend at least 5 to 6 hours per day online and of these hours, at least 50% is spent on mobile devices. This means that they leave loads of data that can be ‘crunched’ to know current customer behaviour and envision how they would behave in the near future – something that even the customers themselves would not know.

The other reason for the importance of predicting customer behaviour is that it provides solid guidelines to a company to decide what kind of experiences customers should have in the future. This would mean bettering the experiences, they would have had in the past and possibly have in the present. It is a process, which effectively means that must be relentless, on-going, constantly adaptable, with an ability to correct any past flaws and mistakes with regard to customer experiences. These experiences would span every touch point across every channel – both offline and online. It is only by understanding customers from a multi-faceted view and getting a well-rounded feel for their needs, goals, preferences, and expectations, that companies would be able to analyse current trends and become better at predicting customer behaviour – not just a for a few but for a majority of the base and may be even prospective ones.

Of course, irrespective of the number of new kinds of technology that may flood the market, the traditional method of speaking to customers and leaders in the market would still be the best way to access the gap between what customers want vis-à-vis, what your company currently offers. It would also be a great way to know what customers could need in the future based on their vision and plans. A company would be better equipped to know the reasons that lead to customers making a purchase and what the barriers to doing so would be. All this data together, would prove to be a relatively accurately measure of the future of customer behaviour would be like, allowing customers to adjust their offerings and customer service accordingly.

There may not be any quick or easy way of predicting customer behaviour, but it is still a prudent move to make educated and intelligent guesses as to what would shape trends, and what would make customers buy more. Without making the effort to ‘keep a finger on the pulse’ of customers, it would be near impossible for companies to give them what they want and customize offerings for them. There may still be an element of risk, but the research your company does would at least have the backing of solid data and predictive analysis techniques and tools, which would dramatically bring down the risk.

Predicting customer behaviour is a great way for companies to prove to that they are customer driven and focused. It would allow them to direct their efforts to search for solutions that would work long-term and help to sort out current and future problems. Being able to predict behaviour would allow companies to focus also on prospective customers by possibly providing them with solutions that they did not know existed. This would attract them to the company and interest them enough to become buying customers. The idea behind predicting customer behaviour is to provide solutions – to current actual problems, to perceived problems, and to problems anticipated in the future. By becoming a ‘solution provider’, a company enhances its reputation and increases its chances of gaining more customers and gaining more appreciation from their existing customer base.

It would be beneficial for a company to send out short and long surveys to their customer base, and may be even to off and on users to understand how they perceive the company. Customers that provide good feedback and would be willing to ‘promote’ the company to others, would be solid indicators of how they would behave in the future too, of course assuming that the company continues to keep up its level of service and quality of offerings. Companies would be better positioned to align their products to the right customer base / segment, thereby delivering higher levels of customer satisfaction and memorable experiences.

As with all aspects related to customers, predicting customer behaviour would not be possible without the concerted and combined efforts of each person in the organization. Each set of employees would have their individual strengths and have a specific understanding of customers and the company. Together, teams can unleash power, which would help companies make increasingly accurate assessments and predictions of future customer behaviour. The ideas and experience of all put together, would ensure that your company makes the smartest and swiftest decisions, so as to not just meet, but exceed customer expectations. Data-driven predictions and marketing are now becoming extremely popular and from the way, companies are using these techniques for predicting customer behaviour, it would seem that soon they find themselves completely incompetent to understand customers without putting these techniques to good use.

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