We never miss an opportunity to listen to industry leaders. So WAVE has attended the first day of The BAM Marketing Days, among the speakers of which you’ll find some of the nominees for the Belgian Marketer of the Year 2018 (and even the winner).
One of the hot topics of the event today was customer centricity. The philosophy of fan-journey, fan-experience and fan-centricity is at the core of what we do, so this topic was especially interesting and useful.
No matter what the company was, whether it was a large furniture retailer or a bakery chain, all have drawn attention to the same fact: as a marketer you have to practice meaningful marketing and as a business if you want at least to survive in the current competitive environment (let alone grow) you need to be customer-centric, you need to practice the outside-in approach.
Ten and even five years ago it was normal for a brand to come up with a great product and then to go to marketers to ask them to come up with a promotion strategy. It worked. You’d come up with a cool packaging, make a promotion or lower the price if needed to make customers try it, you’d get a cool agency to create a great TV spot, perhaps you’d even have a cool ambassador endorsing the product – and it worked. In some cases it worked better than in others but it always worked. What about today? Is such an approach sufficient today?
No. No, it’s not. And the sooner all the brands realise it, the better. Of course pretty much any brand would claim that it’s VERY customer-centric, that customers are at the core of what they do. But is that really so? Clearly not. Back in 2005 Bain conducted a survey, the purpose of which was pretty much to see if brands’ perceptions of themselves match those of them by their customers. And it came to no surprise that there’s a huge delivery gap: while 80% of the brands believed they provided superior customer service, only 8% of their customers agreed with that. Now that’s a huge delivery gap we’re talking about! And although the situation has been improving gradually in the last years, we’re far from closing the gap. As key take-outs of BAM Day 1, below are some tips for brands to move in the right direction to achieve that:
- Create a great team of professionals internally, hire the best people, motivate them, make sure they’re onboard and that everyone is aligned of what the purpose of your business is – after all, no matter what a great team of marketeers you have and what WOW campaigns you create, if for instance the cashier doesn’t treat the customers right, you’ll never be able to achieve your goal as a business
- Make sure you know your customer – customer insights and data shouldn’t be just some random words on the company presentation slides but it should be at the core of what you do, the air you breathe (not literally of course :)). You need to know what your customers want and need, you need to know what their pains are and what you can do to solve them, you need to foresee what they might need in the future and how you can be the ones to help them
- Whatever you do – be it a product or a service development, make sure your customer is always at the center, create a product that will solve your customer’s challenge, help him in whatever way or simply make his life better/easier/healthier/more convenient (the list is infinite)
- Be honest with your customers – whatever happens, don’t lie – people always feel that. Even if there’s a problem/mistake/***-up (excuse my French), admit that as a business you’ve done a mistake but turn it for your own good – it’s better than pretending as if everything’s great and not taking out any learnings! After all, we are all human beings and we all make mistakes, it’s more important how we cope with them!
- Know your customers so well that you know what they care about, what makes them smile or what they’re angry about at any specific moment in time – this will allow you to be on the same page, to make the same jokes, to demonstrate that you care about them, that you know what bothers them or what makes them happy and that you’re always there for them
- Don’t forget to speak the language of your customers – no matter how conservative or traditional you’re as a business, you have to adapt the tone of your communication and language based on who you are talking to – don’t assume that a genius TV spot will appeal to everyone and be a solution to all your challenges!
- Think about customer experiences, rather than basic product offers – an emotionally connected customer brings much higher value to your brand than a one-time buyer of an article on promotion!
To be fair, there’s no rocket science there. Everyone has been talking about it for years. But it’s good to hear those simple, yet so difficult to implement pieces of advice every now and then – especially when they come from people who know what they’re talking about.
Yet the majority of brands are not there yet. But as long as as a business you keep those basic pieces of advice in mind (which can be VERY CHALLENGING to implement) before doing anything, there’s hope that we’ll be able to solve the issue of the service delivery gap in the near future.
And it goes without saying that the essence of this approach should be implemented when talking to fans. Who are to be fair even more complex than “regular” customers, but who can help you grow your business in ways you couldn’t have even imagined before.
After all – Fans are the fast wave. Let’s ride it! (together :))