Smart customers call for smart strategies
Customers are smart – much smarter than you think. A blanket approach is no longer acceptable. Smart customers value personalisation and expect solutions to be customised to their unique needs. They are empowered, demanding and self-guided – a trend driven by the digital age.
Smart customers see right through a customer-focused window dressing and have little tolerance for false statements, irrelevant ads and useless content. However, they do notice when businesses put customer needs first.
Survival of the smartest
Businesses and employees must smarten up – first and foremost by viewing themselves as customers of their own products and services. Every employee is, after all, a customer with access to the same technology that empowers the market.
Start by becoming your own customer for a day. Gain some insight into how customers think through the decision-making process before you start. This means that your search will not start on your website but rather on aggregator and price comparison sites, blogs and reviews, social media interactions with influencers, and so forth.
One way to do this is to go through each and every channel and touchpoint on all devices. Pose as a customer and call your own call centre. Take note of how you feel throughout the experiment and what you, as a customer, love and hate about the process.
With more choice than ever before, customers will move on swiftly without a hint of loyalty. Businesses need to focus on anticipating and meeting changing customer needs at every touchpoint and stage of the relationships lifecycle. This requires businesses to adopt a customer-centric strategy and culture. It also means bringing the human element to life in content marketing.
Smart strategies and cultures
At its core, businesses of tomorrow will have a customer-centric culture and strategy – which places customers at the core of the business. Research already shows that customer-focused companies are 60% more profitable.
This is where start-ups and small business have a tremendous advantage, as it is much easier to establish a culture than to change one. Research shows that being customer-centric is more important in establishing a digital-native culture, than being innovative, data-driven, collaborative or agile.
Businesses can earn trust and respect by offering customers relevant and valuable content, tailor-made solutions, personalised communication, competitive pricing and transparency – anything that reminds them that there are human beings behind your business who can relate to their unique needs. Never underestimate the power of a personalised emailer that addresses the customer by name not number, or a follow-up mailer on a deserted online shopping cart with a special price, bundle offers or alternative products the customer may not be aware of.
Technology continues to arm customers with facts, reviews, specs, price comparisons and word-of-mouth. By the time customers make contact, they probably know more than your customer-facing staff. Gen Y shoppers in particular are confident that they can answer their own questions faster via their smartphones.
Ironically, employees are customers with access to the same tools customers use to make purchase decisions. Employees must retrain themselves to think like customers by using these same tools, such as review and comparative sites, to keep up to date and to pre-empt the customer’s mindset and potential concerns in advance. A customer-focused culture relies on quick and effective customer data sharing across departments.
From smart data to smart customer experiences
Data is knowledge and knowledge is power. Even customers have come to expect targeted ads based on search histories. Personalised offers are valued as long as companies use customer data to benefit customers before the bottom line.
Data can provide a key competitive advantage in the form of unique customer experiences. Unstructured big customer data must be turned into valuable insights. Many smart solutions are available to businesses; such as Nashua’s Managed Document Solutions that enables businesses to optimise the way their data is managed, stored and accessed.
Online giant, Amazon, the world’s most customer-centric company, attributes its global success to big data and simply listening and inventing for customers. Instead of using big data to sell more stuff, Amazon’s customer-centric strategy assists customers to make the best purchase decisions
Invest in technology that streamlines data and communication. Never assume that your customers are not ready for new digital technology and value them enough to take them along on your business’ new tech journey.
Businesses should focus on minimising customer effort and maximising customer value to remain competitive in a world of changing needs and unexpected disruptors.