I was recently introduced to a new way of looking at business and customers as a whole. As a marketer at heart this paradigm shift took me by surprise as there was always the view that businesses should know their customers. However, most focused on their customers’ income, shopping and spending habits, media consumption and more, but not really on the things that matter, like customers’ expectations when interacting with brands over and above the fact that they expect good service and goods that are in working order.
So, suddenly I was bombarded with new jargon like CX, customer journey mapping, moments of magic and moments of misery … but what does it all mean?
It comes down to something we already know, but do not always grasp or want to grasp as it might be uncomfortable to change our way of thinking and doing business, and empowering or enabling our staff more than we currently do.
I have sat in more than one meeting where intelligent people could not answer a simple question: “Why are you in business?”. The obvious answer would be “for the money”, but ultimately business should be able to answer and clarify what problem(s) it is solving for customers, for example whether it is fulfilling needs and desires, growing customers’ wealth or giving customers peace of mind or even entertainment. The product or service we supply ultimately addresses an issue, need or problem the customer might be dealing with. The question is how your customers feel about themselves when they interact with your brand.
In the past, businesses used customer-centric slogans or campaigns like ‘the customer is king’, but what did it really mean? Did it mean that businesses really looked at all the touch points with customers and made each individual experience an amazing one? Did businesses ever look at the processes and interactions through the eyes of customers or did they rather focus on what was most cost effective and easiest for themselves?
A business with processes, systems and cultures of non-empathy first needs to look in the mirror, answer uncomfortable questions, be honest with itself and then transform these findings into amazing experiences for its customers.
The power has shifted to consumers. They are no longer really that loyal to brands and companies. There are so many choices and channels to market available. The standard of products and service is way up there, and ultimately customers will go back to the brands that make them feel good about themselves. They will go back to those brands that created a positive all-round experience for them. They don’t expect much, but if we as businesses and brands exceed their expectations they will not only come back for more (expecting the same with every interaction) but will share these experiences with their networks. Richard Branson was spot-on when he said: “Customers shouldn’t think of your business as a place to buy a product or a service. It should be a fun place to be”.