Have you ever stepped back and wondered why certain companies scale rapidly, while others struggle to gain market share? The answer is in building a customer-centric brand. One of the best ways to achieve this goal is by becoming a resource for potential customers.
Yes, your products and services can solve their problems. But the most impactful marketers are able to craft a web presence that invites intellectually curious web users to their site. The brand becomes an authority on topics related to their products and services.
They prove that they are helpful long before the customer makes a purchase. This builds trust and brand awareness.
So, how do you build a customer-centric brand that markets itself as a teacher first and a profit-seeking enterprise second?
1. Discover the questions your customers need help answering
Before you develop content, it’s important to uncover what your customers need help with. This information will provide you with targets you can aim for, instead of simply throwing content at the web and hoping it somehow generates engagement.
Keyword research is an important step in this process. What are your customers typing into google?
If your website can serve as a trusted authority, answering their questions, you can win them over.
I’ve also worked with brands that distribute surveys to their existing customers via email. This can provide some fascinating insights. But don’t forget to check-in with the customer-facing members of your team. They talk to your customers every day. They know what questions come up the most.
2. Dedicate yourself to process optimization
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World and star of CNBC’s The Profit has a slogan for business owners: “People, process, product.”
Too many startups and small businesses fail to develop streamlined processes for fulfilling customer needs. This results in an inconsistent experience with your brand.
Companies can deliver a customer-centric experience by:
- Removing unnecessary steps from the process.
- Creating dedicated workspaces that flow to streamline production.
- Creating clearly-defined areas of responsibility for your leadership team.
- Don’t get hamstrung by titles. Assign team members tasks and areas-of-responsibility based on what makes sense for the process.
- Create a team that is responsible for interacting and engaging with customers. They need to be product evangelists.
- Avoid bouncing customers around your organization. Empower customer-facing team members to resolve customer issues in one call.
3. Leverage On-Demand Video and Imagery to Communicate Important Information
I know what you’re thinking. You’re on board for step 1 and 2 but creating video sounds scary. “Don’t I need a studio?” “How am I going to pay for all that expensive camera equipment?” “I hate how I look and sound in videos!”
Don’t worry. Take a deep breath. This one’s a lot easier than you think.
Our phones have some of the world’s most advanced cameras ever developed. The astronauts would have killed to have your iPhone camera on their first moonwalk.
Let’s start with baby steps. Do you have a catalog of powerful, engaging product photos? Are the products properly in-focus? You don’t need complicated, expensive video or photo-editing software to get this right.
You can remove unwanted objects from photos with simple tools that could help your grandmother become a pro at retouching important images.
There are also webcams that provide plug-and-play support for creating professional backgrounds as you explain important concepts for your team and your customers.
97% of companies feel that video is a powerful, effective tool for giving customers a more complete picture of their company’s values, services, and capabilities.
The best part is that digital photos and videos are available to your team and your customers on-demand. They can respond to customer inquiries in real-time, without the need to tie up a member of your team.
4. Recruit talent from your most passionate consumers
Your first instinct when looking for people to join your company might be to post ads on the popular job listing sites. This isn’t a bad idea, but I’ve found some of the best employees come from your loyal consumers.
In addition to all of the other strategies for reaching talented people, include information in your company’s email newsletter about open positions. Also, look around social media for brand mentions by ecstatic customers.
This doesn’t always work, but when it does you’ve gained someone that has spent time on the other side of the transaction. That’s a valuable perspective.
5. Invest in fostering an empathetic culture
Would you be surprised to learn that just 38% of customers feel that brands understand their needs and do a great job of delivering solutions?
Empathy needs to be a cornerstone of your customer-centric corporate culture. Empathy means that your team is exceptionally skilled at jumping into the shoes of the customer. They understand their emotional needs. They understand why the customer is so aggravated.
Without this knowledge, it’s difficult to craft a solution that transforms a bad situation into a loyal, passionate consumer for your brand.
- Create empathy tests for your interview process. Make it an important scoring factor in deciding whether to bring new hires aboard (especially in sales).
- Encourage your team to spend time reading customer messages, reviews and listening to support / sales interactions.
- Challenge each aspect of the customer experience. Are you contributing to a real solution, or are you simply adding steps that get in the way of delivering an efficient, satisfying experience?
In wrapping up, I want to call attention to how important it is that your brand take the time to listen to customers. Surveys help, but there are so many interactions between your company and your customers. Calls should be recorded. Emails should be carefully archived. And customer reviews should be proactively engaged with.
- Learn what questions your customers have. Resolve to be the best solution to their needs.
- Dive into your processes for handling customer needs and producing products. Look for ways to optimize.
- Leverage eye-catching video and photography to engage visitors. And don’t forget to use video to create a database of helpful instructional videos for customers and team members.
- Try to convert some of your most passionate customers into team members. When it happens, the end result can be magical.
- Practice empathy as a leader. Invest in recruiting empathetic people. Actively practice empathy as part of your customer-interaction strategy.