Even as technological advancements and changing consumer behavior are redefining the rules of business, forward-thinking organizations are adopting innovative customer engagement strategies to acquire and retain customers. While accelerated digital adoption is giving rise to new business opportunities, changing consumer behavior is impacting how they evaluate purchase decisions and their expectations from the retail experience. Marketing teams that are in tune with the fast-changing customer attitudes will be at the forefront of the next wave of growth.
The following four-point primer aims to give brands a perspective on the way forward.
Solve real problems
Customers will reward businesses that solve ‘real problems’ – issues that are a genuine concern and which need a solution. The approach should be to not only solve the customer’s problem but also weed out the very reason that caused it; this is a dynamic, continuous process and requires a deep level of commitment. There are times when poor or insufficient research may lead organizations to attempt solving problems that do not even exist in the market. To ensure that an organization’s efforts are in sync with real customer problems, it is imperative to not just hear their concerns, but to truly listen to them. Customer feedback is the most valuable insight in product development or service enhancement. This customer-oriented approach will lead businesses to bring about real, meaningful, and sustainable changes for the better. By seeking permanent, long-term solutions rather than quick fixes, the company will enhance its reputation—and its bottom line.
Make UX a company-wide KRA
It costs many times more to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing customer. Hence, an organization’s best bet is to deliver a best-in-class user experience to the customer. Today’s consumers do not buy just goods and services – their decisions revolve around buying an idea and an experience, that is unique, personalized, and shareable. If the customer has a positive experience, not only are they likely to repeat the experience but will also influence others to do so. For this level of customer delight, it is imperative that not only customer-facing teams, but also back-end teams are sensitized to deliver a superior user experience.
Hero the product
Yes, the customer is king, but how good is all the marketing and customer service excellence if the product itself leaves something to be desired! How about taking a conventional horse-before-the-cart approach, and making the product the Hero; make sure it works 100% before embarking on an engagement journey? Build products the company takes pride in and let it be everything that the brand stands for, encapsulating the values and representing the philosophy of the organization. Hero products can define the brand and the right marketing can take it to the next level. As consumer needs evolve continuously, the brand’s market research should be an ongoing process to classify the change and enable an upgraded product in keeping with the times.
‘What is in it for the customer?’
The golden rule still holds true – a customer is always thinking, ‘What’s in it for me?’ In an era where the customer is inundated with choices, every communication must be designed to convey a benefit or solution that the product delivers to the customer. No feature is insignificant and no detail is too small, as long as it fulfills a customer’s need – and the customer sees value in it. To know what customer perceptions and preferences are – just listen to them! And work on the feedback to improve and deliver a product or service that the customer desires. Over time, this not only ensures brand loyalty but also builds trust – the ultimate emblem of effective customer-centricity.
With today’s discerning consumer expecting not just a great product, but also transparency, authenticity, ethical practices, and legitimate brand promises, the onus is on marketers to effectively convey these qualities to the consumer to build brand trust. When a brand is delivering an amazing customer experience and fulfilling its promises ethically, it’s the job of marketers to ensure that the right messages are communicated effectively through focused strategies that enhance brand trust. Customers like honest brands; the journey can be slow, but success is guaranteed.
The author is Senior Vice President – Marketing and Customer Engagement at InterMiles.