Re-imagining the Customer Experience

June 21, 2019

For several years now, a remarkable number of companies have been reciting a particular mantra around which they’d like to define the core ethos and pledge of their brands – “customer-centric.”  Some go so far as to promise to “put the customer at the center” of their organization.

As a consequence of this generation’s technology revolution, true customer-centricity is more attainable than ever.

To become customer-centric requires a considerable departure from brand behavior of yesteryear. Silo’s have to be broken down, new communication channels must be embraced and integrated into the whole, traditional communication channels must be reevaluated, real-time customer behavioral data must replace traditional demographic data, insights must flow freely throughout the organization to allow for iterative optimization of communications, and consumers must be allowed – at least in part – to determine their own ideal relationship with a brand.

Buzzwords like “personalization”, “loyalty” and “omni-channel marketing” have been regurgitated ad nauseum of late, but really they all allude to the same principle: customer-centricity.

Customer-centricity is achieved when the following work together in unison:

  • Your Brand must always stay true to its core ethos, but must rely on comprehensive consumer insights to adapt and evolve as necessary, in order to provide consumers with the experience and relationship they desire. 
  • Your Consumers must be approached as people with nuanced wants, needs and expectations rather than generic and archaic demographics that don’t begin to define whom they are or how they should be engaged. Consumer identification, segmentation and engagement should be rooted in actual behavioral patterns, motivational triggers, propensities and psychological wants and needs. Only this level of precision allows for contextually relevant experiences and relationships. 
  • The Brand Experience Ecosystem must be constructed as holistically as possible, rather than the traditional approach of fragmented and disconnected brand communications. This begins with a clearly defined strategy that has the courage to be executed agnostically. The lines are forever blurred between online and offline, retail and social, content and conversation; and thus it no longer makes sense to plan or strategize in silos. Quite the contrary – to be effective, brands must allow consumers to engage through the channels, experiences, frequencies and sequences they desire, and must focus just as much on pulling insights out of every interaction as they do creating or facilitating the interaction in the first place. 
  • Consumer Insights must become the centerpiece of a brand’s engagement strategy, and thus a much greater level of urgency and resources must be allocated to compile and make sense of the seemingly limitless amount of data that swirls within and around any organization.  In today’s digital age, almost every activity we undertake leaves a digital footprint, which provides an invaluable glimpse into what we really want in our brand relationships. Aggregating and analyzing this data allows companies to optimize the brand experience ecosystem, more accurately segment and engage consumers, and evolve the role the brand plays in consumers’ lives. But none of this is possible unless and until brand silo’s are eliminated, channels are integrated and insights flow throughout the organization.
  • Critical Business Results must be the end goal of every interaction. Marketing and advertising are a vital means to an end, but that end must be clearly defined and communicated. And in the post-digital era, to achieve business results, brands must provide a discernible value proposition to consumers, beyond the value of a product or service itself. Quid pro quo and mutual value exchange are paramount, and in order to provide consumers with an experience that is personally rewarding, insights are essential. 
  • Customer-centricity provides consumers with their ideal brand experience while also maximizing business results for the brand. A relevant and rewarding experience drives loyalty and evangelism, and in the era of peer influencer, this has the added impact of further amplifying a brand’s message exponentially through social media. Customer-centricity is a significant departure from traditional brand behavior, but its impact cannot be underestimated.  In fact, I would argue that the most successful brands of tomorrow will not rise because of what they sell, but rather because of their ability put the customer at the center of their organization. 

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