Many of you know that customer centricity is essential today. You must put the customer clearly at the heart of your business.
But I also know that many of you struggle because you just don’t know where to start. Am I right? Then this article is for you.
This week I give you ten simple actions to accelerate your organisation along its path to an improved customer-first strategy.
#1 Review & revise the description of your target audience
Do all your brands have a clear description of their target audience? These days we tend to speak about personas.
Is it as complete as it should be?
Include not only your customers’ demographics and consumption / purchasing habits but also information about where they do these things, what values they have that you can tap into and what emotions motivate them to purchase and use your brand.
#2 Assess the optimum way of connecting with your customers
Do you know the best way to contact your target customers, as well as their preferred place and time to connect?
Review how you communicate with your customer and what information exchange there is at that time. Is it one-way or two? Are you in a monologue or a dialogue?
Obviously the second is what it should be. You can learn far more about your customers when they are ready to share their information with you.
#3 Identify the needs your brand is addressing
Do you know what needs your customer has and which of them you are tapping into?
They certainly have more than one need, but you must identify and address only one.
If you attempt to address more than one and especially if they are not sequential, your customer may be getting confused.
Mixed brand messages on what the brand can do for them will leave them perplexed. This will, in turn, reduce the likelihood that they will be convinced your offer can meet their objectives.
Knowing where your brand sits on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs has one additional benefit. It can increase the success of regional and global launches by identifying cultures with similar levels of a specific need.
#4 Make your customer everyone’s responsibility
Is customer care only on the objectives of one or two departments in your organisation? Perhaps it’s only for the care centre employees or merchandisers to do.
It should, in fact, be on everyone’s annual objectives to watch, listen and engage with your customers regularly. This will help them to understand how their work fits into the company’s objective to satisfy and delight them.
Every employee has a role to play in customer centricity and connecting with the customers on a frequent basis and sharing experiences will ensure that they understand this.
#5 Plan for the unthinkable
Do you know where your business is going? Do you know what might happen in the future and what you would do in each situation? How would you react to new laws, new customer demands, and their new sensitivities such as ecology, sourcing or ingredients?
It is better to plan for such events before they happen so that you can quickly react to challenges as well as opportunities.
#6 Review your business plans for customer centricity
Are your customers clearly identified and described in your plans, as well as the customers of your major competitors?
Review your plans by considering how your customers will react to each of your planned actions; not just the outcomes you are hoping for, but a truly detailed analysis based on your understanding of them and their desires.
Have you planned any actions to surprise and delight them, or are you only relying on the “same old” activities, repeated from last year?
People get bored quickly and you can actually “train” your customers to expect your actions, which as a result will quickly become less interesting to them. Plan at least one unexpected WOW action each year.
#7 Expand your innovation thinking
Are you blocked in an innovation box, relying on your internal technical and expert skills?
If you know your customer well you can offer them more successful innovations, perhaps through additional sensorial experiences. Consider adding sound to taste, colour to services, touch to packaging, aromas to retail displays.
Give your customers more reasons to stay with you and they will become more loyal.
#8 Stop testing your communications to death
I can feel your shock as you read this, but why not review your process for developing your advertising?
If you spent more time and resources reviewing how to connect with your customer, and then reviewed early stage work up-stream with them, you would be more likely to develop winners.
It would also reduce or totally replace your usual tests just before airing them, when in most cases it is too late to change anything.
#9 Define your image
Your brand has an image but it might not be what you think it is. Make sure you are measuring it regularly and not only on the attributes that you ideally wanted to perform well on.
Review and update the attributes used to measure the perceptions of your category with your customers, and ensure you measure what is (also) important to them.
The coverage of the total category will likely be more complete and you might even find a new or adapted positioning that no-one else is currently occupying.
#10 Update your KPI’s
You know that what gets measured gets managed, well are you measuring what needs managing or only the easy metrics to gather?
If you know your customers well, who they are, what they do, what they think of you and your competitors, and then compare these to where you want to take your brand, the metrics you need to be measuring become evident.
I hope this list has helped you to define a few areas that need revision in your own organization. Even actioning just one of them will improve the success of your customer-first strategy. Of course doing them all will ensure that your customer is truly at the heart of your business, as well as in the hearts of all your employees.
This post shows images from Denyse’s book “Winning Customer Centricity – Putting Customers At The Heart Of Your Business One Day At A Time.”