Welcome to the Age of the Customer.
We didn’t create that phrase, Forrester did, but it’s certainly true.
Today’s customers are more connected through new devices and apps; they are also more social and have more nuanced needs. Your customers have been changed by these technologies. Their expectations are higher and are shaped by the always-available, on-demand services that have become the norm. Consider how Amazon has changed the way we shop; how Spotify has changed the way we listen to music; how Netflix has changed the way to watch television.
It’s no longer enough to offer great products with a standard level of service. Because the customer now controls access to information, and therefore their own experience, businesses must now offer great products and unique experiences.
To survive and succeed in this environment, organizations must put the needs and desires of the customer at the center of their business — no matter what the product. But how? How does a small business like ECHOtape, or yours, stay close to its customers and learn about their problems and pain points? Furthermore, how do we capture that information and use it to drive product development?
Simple. By leveraging the same technology customers are using.
1. Be online. All. The. Time. That’s mobile websites, microsites, apps, landing pages, desktop sites, social media, etc. These channels give the customer access to you and your services 24-hours a day. Why is that important? Statistically speaking, customers are 57% of the way through a purchase before even engaging with a supplier.
2. Keep it simple, and get to the point. With so much available information online, customers are flooded with options, making it take longer to research and select products. Are they taking that time? No. Customers are gravitating toward solutions that are described in their language about their needs. For businesses that means, rather than selling product features and benefits, focus on solving the problem. You need X to fix Y. End of story.
3. Make it mobile. According to The Nielsen Company, 41% of smartphone owners and 58% of tablet owners using their device to make purchases. Google shows that a massive 71% of in-store shoppers who use smartphones for online research say their device has become more important to their in-store experience.
4. Variety is the spice of life. Yes. GenY and Millennials are all about the mobile, but don’t forget about the Baby Boomers, who don’t trust technology and want to deal face-to-face in store or talk to a human on the phone. Each customer expects their own desired balance of physical and digital.
5. Social is the new word of mouth. Consumers are more likely to purchase based on social media recommendations, with 88% trusting online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Corporate customers seek out referrals and case studies online and on social networks. What this means is that your whole team needs to be engaged. Indeed, your sales team is often your best offense. Give them the digital tools and empower them to engage online.
In the end, it boils down to this: Technology has opened up new methods and approaches, but success comes down to connecting to your customers on an emotional level. As Maya Angelou said: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
For more of our business insights be sure to keep up with Taped: The ECHOtape blog.