Is your business looking at its marketing through the lens of the customer? Because if you aren’t using customer insight to find out what customers want and how they want it, you’re stuck in the past.
Looking back at past decades, it’s easy to see how much the approach to communicating with customers has evolved. Back in the 70s, we had the ‘pay and spray’ approach – everyone got the same message. During the economic boom of the 1980s, the competitive edge was found through advertising the virtues of high quality. By the 90s, the commoditization of products, such as phones or powerful computers, meant branding and brand profile became the defining factor of marketing.
Since the turn of the century, the volume of brands and services making noise means that now it’s customer experience (and partly convenience) that takes center stage. It’s why Uber is usurping the role of traditional taxis; why consumers buy from Amazon rather than the shopping mall; it’s why people book an AirBnB rather than hotel room.
These brands are winning because they are giving customers what customers want, rather than what they tell customers they need.
You might think that everyone is thinking the same thing, but that’s just not true. Only recently, I read an article in Marketing Week from a head of customer insights at UK retailer Marks & Spencer, who is still trying to convince non-marketing types that firing out millions of identical emails to its customer base isn’t the way forward.
Businesses need to be looking ‘outwards in’ to their business, through their customers’ eyes.
As arguably the most customer-centric brand out there, Amazon is constantly looking for ways to improve this customer experience. Earlier this year it announced Amazon Prime Wardrobe, which lets shoppers order clothes, try them on, but only pay if they fit. If they don’t, Amazon will collect the box and return it, whether the customer is home or not. This means no uncomfortable changing rooms, no risk of purchase and no hassle with returns.
Elsewhere, food delivery service Deliveroo is putting the customer first by setting up clusters of ‘pop-up’ kitchens around the world. Over 30 Deliveroo ‘Editions’ hubs have been set up in areas of cities where there is a high demand for particular takeaway brands that couldn't otherwise deliver.
Entrepreneur Elon Musk is famously customer centric. Twenty minutes after receiving a tweet from a Tesla customer complaining about drivers hogging charging stations, he replied that he would look into the matter.
Just seven days later, Tesla announced ‘idle fees’ for those who left their electric car parked at a station when it wasn’t charging. This makes the news that Apple and T-Mobile CEOs Tim Cook and John Legere stay in touch with customer’s real needs by reading (and sometimes responding to) their emails seem rather tame in comparison.
Of course, not many businesses have the logistical or financial muscle to pull off customer-centricity to this scale. But you can make a start at looking through their eyes.
Remember the data
While an obvious first step towards customer-centricity is to speak to them, you can also learn a lot from things they don’t tell you. Namely, learning more about their actions during their customer journey and analyzing them through data.
For starters, this will require a unified customer view (by aggregating your data from disparate sources), and this will enable you accurately segment your customers through their behaviors and develop deeper insights. This means insight into the motivations of why, when and how a consumer makes a decision – not just to optimize their journey, but start looking at wider improvements to customer experience. Read more about how our Customer Data Platform could help.
Remember the experience is human
You may be able to see how your customers behave – but how do you respond? How they feel about your brand can depend a lot on the conversations you have with them. As Elon Musk and other customer-centric brand leaders have shown, the impact of genuine conversation can have a very positive impact. Companies like Sainsbury’s and Wendy’s are good examples of brands improving sentiment through natural, good-humored communications.
Remember that customer-centricity needs to be a company-wide culture
If you’ve ever watched an episode of reality show Undercover Boss, it shows how much difference it can make having such close contact with customers, and highlights the importance having whole company working towards the same customer-centric goal. Some brands have been known to do this by making every department in the organization spend a week or two in the customer service department.
These are just a few of the many steps to take on a road towards being a more customer-focused business. You have the insight to start making a change – now is the time to act on it.
Maintaining a cross journey conversation with your customers
Customers engage with brands across many touchpoints and many channels. Yet, while any one of these touchpoints might provide a positive experience in isolation, customer journey optimization is about maintaining this experience as they travel from one point of engagement to the next. Learn:
- What does a customer journey consist of and why isn't it linear?
- How do you measure customer intention?
- Why do you need customer microsegments?
- What are the benefits of cross journey communication?
- What is required for effective cross journey optimization?