There’s a new kind of customer in town. One who is no longer baited by bells, whistles and once-a-year, customer appreciation days. This new customer appreciates honesty. If the document isn’t ready for collection, as promised, this customer wants a representative of the business to say so and to acknowledge that, “we dropped the ball, but here’s what we’re doing to fix the situation, so that it never happens again.” Notice that I didn’t stop at fixing the situation “this time.” This customer wants the problem fixed permanently, with no possibility of recurrence.
The businesses that react to this statement by questioning the unrealistic expectation of having problems fixed permanently, are those that are not at the top of their industry. There, I said it. The businesses that perform at the top of their industry aim for what seems impossible to their competitors.
This new kind of customer wants a business to go beyond being simply “efficient.” So for all of the businesses still struggling to meet basic levels of efficiency, please start doubling the effort to meet minimum standards.
So, all of this data-pondering leads me to the simple fact that the current-day profile of the customer has changed and he or she needs more than an efficient sale to become loyal.
The businesses that perform at the top of their industry aim for what seems impossible to their competitors.
Let me create a more vivid representation of my point. Let’s say that two businesses are equally matched in efficiency, but only one has a full-blown schedule of activities, events and campaigns that are always over-subscribed by customers. Which of the two businesses is likely to have a deeper sense of customer loyalty? Yes, you guessed right. The one with the engagement levels going through the roof.
This new kind of customer wants to feel that he or she is part of a customer community that shares common needs, likes, issues and social cause activism.
All that I’m saying is that there’s evidence to show that the business that takes the time to create a sense of community amongst its customer base, tends to create a more emotional connection that lasts beyond the sale. Businesses that only have a product or service focus, are destined to lose ground to those that engage customers beyond the physical outcomes of the sale.
The takeaway here, is that there is a correlation between efficiency and revenue, but the graph veers sharply upward, when we examine the relationship between engagement, revenue and loyalty. Another way to look at this relationship is through the eyes of customer resonance.
The business that takes the time to create a sense of community amongst its customer base, tends to create a more emotional connection that lasts beyond the sale.
Marketing and business data scientists tell us that conducting research through the customers’ lens, is gold to gaining valuable insights that drive customer pleasing decisions (resonance). What the science is telling us these days, is that customers want relationships that connect deeply with their values and they want the businesses that dive deeply, to do so with authenticity. Customers can smell fake outreach efforts a mile away.
As a Service Transformation Consultant, I encourage clients to “go live” with their clients. This includes optimizing engagement using digital marketing channels that are open all-day, every day for customers to engage, feedback, network and chat. It means, as well, stimulating voluntary customer “enrolment” in conversations that matter.
If you are in the automotive business, for example, customer community building can happen through channels that focus on topics that resonate and score big social engagement points with drivers who will keep checking in on social pages to see “what’s new.” Car care tips, defensive driving techniques and wellness support advice that provides tips on best driver-seat positioning, for preventing spinal problems, come readily to mind. Use of an app is a great way to meet customers through their mobile channel.
Without a doubt, businesses have been putting in the effort to become digitally-enabled, as a means of optimizing time, effort, convenience and ease of doing business for their customers and creating more effortless workflows for employees. However, the next giant step would be to use the same digital resourcefulness to elevate the brand voice of the business, within customer engagement networks.
Customers want relationships that connect deeply with their values and they want the businesses that dive deeply, to do so with authenticity.
The evolving customer wants to interact with businesses that take the time to curate their brand personalities in ways that offer a layered customer experience. Of course, this means having a properly designed customer engagement strategy that keeps the business top of mind in a competitive ecosystem.
I would wager that the payoff for executing this strategy well, would be the best trifecta. Customers experiencing a sense of belonging, customer retention and ultimately, scaling of the business through customer advocacy.
So, “What’s at stake here for a business?” Simply the future with its customers.