Commentary

A Lifelong Commitment

Today’s customers expect companies to adapt to their needs, proactively seek them out with relevant offerings, and make the effort to build a trust-based relationship aligning closely with their values. To deliver on these items, organizations should first look to become intimately engaged with their customers. 

How customer-engaged is your business? Let’s take a quick temperature check by answering these questions: Can you list what your company has done recently to boost your customers’ trust? Does your company have a plan to respond to unexpected situations impacting customers? Is your company aligning its offerings and messages to your customers’ core values? If you answered yes to the questions, your company is a leader in today’s marketplace to meet and exceed the expectations of increasingly sophisticated customers. 

Constantly connected across all channels, customers have the power to impact a company’s growth, strategy and operations. To meet the demands of the new customer-led marketplace for business success, companies can start by following four important customer-focused guidelines: 

1. Adapt to customers’ dynamic and unforeseen needs

Customer needs can shift due to an unexpected event, whether a natural disaster or personal tragedy, and how a company reacts can have a long-lasting positive or negative impression. Companies that plan ahead, anticipate customer responses, and adapt culture to carry out targeted initiatives, are able to better support their customers during the unexpected moments. 

2. Establish a trust-based relationship with customers

To gain a customer’s trust and form an invaluable relationship, a company must demonstrate that they have the customer’s best interests in mind. How can this be accomplished? Businesses should focus on being transparent, keeping customers well informed, establishing a two-way trust, and placing an emphasis on its customers’ well-being.

3. Use the customer’s entire network 

Do not underestimate the power and reach of a customer’s network, as it could become a stronger marketing source than a company’s own marketing and advertising efforts. To develop a clearer understanding of the interests in a customer’s network, consider the following approach:

  • Identify influencers – understand key influencers in a customer’s network.
  • Develop insights – conduct market research and analysis to generate insights that can be incorporated into a company’s customer engagement strategy.
  • Analyze online behavior – discover the reasons why customers go online, obtain and share information, and interact with others. 
  • Build the dialogue – participate in the information exchange.
  • Create guidelines – develop business rules and processes with the customer’s network in mind.
  • Use technology – invest in social media listening tools and technologies to fully understand the customer’s network.

4. Align business strategy with customer values

Recognize customers’ core values — whether centered on politics, the environment, fitness, etc. — and align the company’s business strategy and corporate values with them. This demonstrates that the company cares about its societal presence and impact, and not solely about generating a profit.

Deepening the Commitment 

Social by nature, customers navigate their multichannel world by constantly embracing new technologies that continue to meet their changing needs. By taking the time to really get to know their customers, companies can build meaningful and lasting relationships and become a trusted partner, while helping customers navigate key events at various stages of their lives. 

Customers are an integral part of a company’s business and aspiring customer-centric companies must continue to make improvements. Whether fine-tuning business processes or adapting the way they operate, companies can meet the evolving demands and expectations of their nonstop customers, while anticipating their future needs.

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