Before we carry the fancy business titles that we hold at our different places of work, one thing for sure is we are all customers one way or the other.

Every one of us purchases goods and services directly or indirectly and that makes us customers for as long as we live.

Everyday businesses and customers are always entangled in money games as customers want value for their money while organisations want money for their effort in service provision and product offerings.

The main objective of all profit-making organisations is to make money from their market, and on the other hand, customers engage business to get the best service or product that will meet and satisfy their needs and expectations. They believe that their money should be able to get them the best there can ever be on the shelf.

The only game changer is the type of play.

Technology experts are always coming up with new methods to make businesses and customers transact easy and better. They know that today’s customer is always hungry for information. Customers want to know everything about the brand before making an informed purchase decision and with technology all is provided at the click of a button.

Information search is making customers seek for more and digital media is one aspect that can provide the information scrounging customer all the information needed. Although last week I touched on the flip side of social media, it is still a necessary evil that organisation must sign up to but with precaution.

Technology has availed so many platforms that can readily dish out information about any brand and that information can be good or bad. Businesses must, therefore, embrace the digital era so as to be competitive.

Customers go through a buying process where they search for information and through the internet, millions of brands has tones of information posted online. As customers search for the perfect brand that will suit what they are looking for, sometimes they act like little detectives digging for the correct information.

Social media is just but one aspect of digital marketing, organisations should also make use of other platforms such as search engine optimisation, content marketing, email marketing, web design, social media marketing as well as pay per click. This help the detective-like customer to get information while looking for business that matches their expectations and standards.

Having several platforms is crucial for business as this provides their different customers a variety to choose from. It is important for businesses to be flexible enough and let their customers use their preferred media platforms.

Shoppers normally lean towards engaging and learning about brands using online platforms. Research has proved that most customers’ purchase decisions are influenced by information that they get on different digital platforms.

Organisations using online platforms must also inform all their staff of their online presence. Just last month, I made enquiries at a certain piggery shop that sell pork products if they have an online shop.

My first point of call was my contact who is part of their marketing department and surprisingly enough he did not have the information and referred me to someone within the department. I reached the second referred co-worker who in turn referred me to another number. I got frustrated and thought I could find solace and the right answer from their website but alas, the website too was not user friendly.

This shows how simple information like knowledge of the presence of the organisation’s online shop can be made complicated when it is not openly shared to all the employees of the organisation.

The least person at any organisation must be able to refer customers to the online shops and be able to articulate the benefits of buying online. Organisations must run adequate awareness campaign training for all their staff. Employees, as brand ambassadors, help to decongest the brick and mortar shops and increase online traffic to the organisation website.

Organisations that have online shops should make them simple in such a way that when one visits the organisation’s website, the online shop is visible enough and inviting. When customers visit the online shop, they do not get joy from being referred from one person to another.

All they want is click on an organisation’s website, visit the online shop and start picking the products or services that they require pay for them online without talking to anyone.

Online shops should be interactive and be able to provide response. I sent an enquiry to one car dealer on their website on Thursday and all I got was we have sent the enquiry to the relevant department and they will contact you. Up until now I have not heard a word from them.

This is just another sign that the company has not really upped its digital game and if it is not careful, they may end up being overtaken by new players who make use of these new technological spaces to catch the market.

With many Zimbabweans scattered all over the world but restricted to move, organisations must be aware that online space is the perfect place to build their shops and sell their products and services. A lot of people with relatives in the diaspora are receiving groceries at their doorsteps paid for online by their loved ones in the diaspora.

Customer satisfaction is higher when using digital platforms than when using the traditional means like phones.

Cresencia Marjorie Chiremba is a marketing enthusiast with a strong passion for customer service. For comments and suggestions, she can be reached on [email protected] or on 0712 979 461.