The explosion of data and the increasing ubiquity of digital solutions have changed the face of business and technology alike. It can feel like a daunting challenge, keeping abreast of changes and innovative developments in the tech sphere. Even more so when trying to keep up with constantly evolving customer expectations.

Those expectations are being driven and shaped by technology. Smartphones and apps that enable instant communication have set a new expectation that business response times should be instantaneous too.

Similarly, when the world’s largest retailer can offer same-day delivery on thousands of items, customers begin to expect the same from every retailer they shop with. All of which, in turn, creates demand for better, faster, more engaging services from tech companies and in-house IT teams.

Over the course of the last 25 years, Tata Consultancy Services has worked with the airline KLM to continually respond to evolving customer expectations. That has led to the development of several services for KLM customers that have raised the standards of airline travel. KLM launched, for instance, BlueBot, an artificial intelligence-powered social media chatbot and was the first airline to offer the ability to collect boarding passes via social media.

Enterprises using automation, robotics, and AI to meet the challenge of the new generation of digital customers are going beyond cost-optimization and focusing on improved customer experiences.

Here are four things you should think about to ensure the benefits you derive from Business 4.0 are felt by your customers too.

The great leap forward

Meeting this new level of customer expectation, or better still exceeding it, calls for a whole new mindset. Incremental and iterative might be two of the watchwords of agile development. But when it comes to surpassing customer expectations, they might not make the grade.

Instead there needs to be a drive toward more substantial leaps forward – think far-reaching rather than piecemeal, although there does need to be a balance of the two. Your aim should be not only to keep your promise to the customer, but to delight them while you’re at it. That could mean offering them something they hadn’t even thought of before.

Always-on and always available

Whether it’s WhatsApp or WeChat, Facebook or Telegram, instant messaging is hard-wired into customers’ daily lives. They use it to keep in touch with friends and colleagues, and for many its capabilities – which not that long ago would have been regarded as revolutionary – are taken for granted. Similarly, the new breed of shopper wants to be able to place orders online from any device and at any time, with no loss of functionality or experience.

This is the new minimal acceptable level of interaction for a growing number of people. Consequently, deciding to adopt digital communications channels for your business is not without responsibility. If you’re going to make it possible for customers to contact you via an instant message app, you’d better be able to respond accordingly. Weaving in an AI chatbot to help filter and direct incoming contact can help, for example, as it means you can initiate a level of response at any time of day. Plus some enquiries could be dealt with by directing people to other online resources. And if you need time to find a person to get back to the customer you’re able to tell them straight away.

Collaborate across an ecosystem

No business is an island and very few have exclusive rights on all the key elements they depend on. Retailers share logistics companies for their fulfilment operations, in much the same way that they share customers with other retailers; very few have their unique customers or their own delivery network.

Instead of always viewing competition for resources as that – competition – Business 4.0 is enabling some organisations to identify opportunities to collaborate to manage risk and keep costs down. The Dutch bank ABN AMRO has opened up its APIs to software developers through a developer portal, created in partnership with TCS. It’s allowing app developers to make ABN AMRO’s services available to other commercial banks who can, in turn, offer enhanced services to their customers.

Give people what they want

Businesses with a presence on Instagram will automatically receive data on which photos and videos are getting the most attention and engagement. But not everyone scrutinises that data to identify how to improve, or maintain, their engagement levels. This is potentially a missed opportunity to get a detailed understanding of what customers are responding to, then tailor new offerings accordingly.

For example, the airline KLM is developing a personalized sales model that offers customers deals on flights they are more likely to be interested in hearing about, before they even start looking. There are plenty of other examples of this kind of mass personalization in action, from retail recommendation engines, to personalized health plans based on gene data.

Business 4.0, much like the twin tenets of innovation and disruption, has tended to be dominated by conversations about technology. But it’s actually as much, if not more, about changing the corporate mindset to ensure you are aware of opportunities and moving from a proprietary outlook to a more collaborative way of working.