According to world-renowned expert on branding and digital strategy Minter Dial, customer-centricity is one of the biggest trends for 2015.1 While the term has been around since 90`s, the philosophy has not yet made it into mainstream vernacular. What are the 7 most important tips for being customer-centric?
1. Customers are not your targets, your product is a target for them. Traditional marketing sees clients as targets. Strategy and research is focused on "creating a need", seeing the target audience as a one indistinguishable mass. This one-way approach will no longer pass the bar. Your audience demands to be seen and treated as equal partners in the deal - and they have much more options than in years before. For example, multi-billion industry of wearable technology is failing due to the omission of clear customer need for better and more sustainable power source. No matter how amazing all the wearables are, people really need better batteries.2
2. 2010s are a decade of active, two-way relationship. Days of passive consumption, such as watching television are over - nowadays, Internet and its interactivity are the king and queen of customer communication. Brands are no longer set in stone, but they have morphed into a relationship that exists in the hearts and minds of the users.
3. Customer-centricity is not only a theory, it is a cultural shift. Companies around the world are spending vast portions of their budgets on implementing the theory of "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you". Do the brands Amazon, Zappo or Apple ring a bell? Yep, all of those put their customer front and center.3
4. It is about needs, not wants. When you meet needs and omit wants, your product is more viable in a dynamic market. This became apparent in 2008, when during the economy crisis the wants were left behind, but the needs remained as poignant as ever. Let us all think back to Windows Vista – yes, that one didn’t sell well.4
5. Companies do not own the brand, the customer does. One well-worded hashtag can create a storm of million followers in just a few hours. Such power in the hands of consumers can destroy the brand`s reputation in a single day. Don't stone-wall your customers - give them a piece of your product and help them customize it. Increased customer experience leads to rise in customer loyalty.
6. Talk less, listen more. Thanks to social media, brand communication shifted from company advertising monologue to a lively dialogue between opinion influencers and lamenting audience, as well as to the healthy opinion exchange between the general public. Make this work for you - listen to what your customers have to say and don't be afraid to take their advice.
7. Empower your customer. Customer-centricity gives the reigns to the fellow-man and allows him to make vital decision about the brand and the product. In 2013, KFC let the Australian customers to change the branding colours of their product to support their national cricket team.6 This not-so-traditional move brought the hot-wing company great popularity in the land Down Under. Remember - empowered people are happier and more productive and therefore tend to have more money to spend on products.
Are you interested in making your e-shop more customer-centric? Check out these great tips by FitSmallBusiness.com or try engaging your customer in a non-traditional way by providing them with a quick and easy way to let you know about any issues they have experienced. For more information, read about Youstice here.