In the course of 2012, we heard quite a few CEOs and managers say they really like the idea of “listening more to customers”, of becoming more “customer-centric” and of wanting to “excel in customer intimacy.”
That’s a good start because thanks to the digital age, customers have become very powerful: they can make or break the image of your company without any effort.
What do you need to make customer-centricity work?
- Empathy to have a good understanding of all the moments that really count to your customer
- Imagination to give them exactly what they do not yet realize they will be wanting to die for once it becomes available.
How? Don’t talk, but listen. Really listen. Put yourself in the shoes of your customers. Involve them in everything you do to collect new insights. And turn great ideas into action.
That is why we wish you a great 2013, full of empathy and imagination!
- Make your strategy straightforward and believable
You know what your brand stands for from your company’s point of view, but can your brand deliver what you promise? Do not only say what you do, just do it in a believable way.
- Stand out from the crowd
Don’t copy any other brand you may be looking up to. There are already too many brands that are pretty similar. Know and truly understand your competitive advantage and adhere to it. Make it the corner stone of your strategy. Aim to be unique in what you are offering, by doing the same, but differently.
- Be authentic
Tell an authentic story about your brand and close the gap between company fiction and customer reality. Don’t think in terms of a 30 seconds commercial or ad, but tell a credible and compelling story of all times. Your brand deserves its own story that builds on its past strengths, its present value and its meaningfulness for the future
- Be where your audience is
Be present in public and private places where chances are high to get noticed by your target audiences. Be not only in the predictable shops and collateral, but be in places, building and venues where people meet and convene, both for pleasure and work. Also, go beyond two-dimensional marketing. Think of different ways to bring your story to life in a three-dimensional way.
- Put customer centricity at the heart of your strategy
Listen to your customers. Understand what your customers think about you and trust what they really value and appreciate in a relationship with you. Reward them for doing so.
- Personalize your approach
Customers are unique and they want to be treated as such. Forget old school push and mass marketing as main drivers for success. Treat customers in a respectful way, by showing them you really care about their wishes and needs. Consider their problems as yours and solve them. Communicate the right individual message to the right customer at the right time in the right format. And walk your talk at every customer touchpoint you can imagine.
- Deliver an unforgettable experience
Think of generating additional demand for an existing offering. The experience itself may be quite different from your core service, but it is the start of a relationship and a potential opening for future transactions. Make your product or service visible and tangible so that it turns into a real experience. Powerful brands connect emotionally with all five senses: sight, smell, sound, taste and touch.
- Be collaborative and engage with your customers
Customers know your brand because they use it… Therefore, they can tell you a lot about their experiences. Maybe a scary idea for lots of companies, but better participate than ignoring the reality. Your brand is being discussed over the internet anyway, so why not participate? Let customers exchange ideas and experiences about your brand. Allow them to share ideas, discuss and rate your products. Use social media for listening. Listen to what your customers are saying they are interested in. Interact only when you have something interesting to say about issues they are looking for. Don’t sell your company vision, just be real… assist and help.
- Embrace the principle of managing your virtual company
Make your website bring more business to you. The internet no longer is a linear experience. The era of the online business card or brochure is over. The internet is exponential in its reach. Make your website become an experience that is about your visitors. Build in many call to actions and turn web visitors into customers and advocates of your brand. Your website should be owned by them.
- Use co-branding to widen your scope
Team up with brands that have values identical to yours, that appeal to the same target groups as yours. Through co-marketing you can broaden your own scope and expertise.
- Do have fun in 2011 !
Wishing you a great, inspiring and successful 2011
Ann & Co