As customers adapt to the world-shaking events of the last two years, their needs, desires, and shopping habits continue to change. To keep up with them in 2022, particularly as B2C brands, customer centricity will be more important than ever.
In the year ahead, customers can’t remain a nameless sea of data points—they must be treated as the critical stakeholders they are. As Managing Director North America of Gongos, part of global agency InSites Consulting and dedicated to strategic customer-centricity, here are my top predictions for how businesses will need to shift to prioritize customers in 2022.
1. The Chief Customer Officer (CCO) will overtake the CMO role with respect to knowledge and decision-making power.
While the role of Chief Marketing Officer will never dissolve, this year we’ll see the Chief Customer Officer (CCO) rise to prominence right alongside them—and perhaps even surpass them when it comes to critical decision-making power.
The difference is, the CCO will foster a customer-centric ecosystem that includes aligning the organization internally to succeed with an authentic customer centric presence which includes marketing as well as other functional strongholds within the organization.
As a dedicated ambassador for the customer, the CCO brings leadership and strategic focus to the customer-centric marketing model. It’s their responsibility to balance internal and external priorities, advocate for the customer, and ensure the organization is set up to provide true value in the long term.
2. Traditional marketing KPIs will be accompanied by a true understanding of the ‘why’ behind customer values as Customer Performance Indicators (CPIs) rise to prominence.
No one would disagree that data is important. But what are businesses measuring when it comes to KPIs? And at what point do we start to see a robust, qualitative understanding of customers’ needs as the most imperative data point?
KPIs have long enabled organizations to assess performance, indicating measurements that they’ve used to track their progress against business objectives. Often, KPIs center on revenue and profitability. And while these measurements are useful, they can lead businesses to lose sight of their most valuable asset: their customers.
Without taking customers’ goals into account, traditional KPIs narrow the focus of an organization’s success to incremental gains, rather than innovation or disruptive change. And in such a volatile market, that simply won’t cut it. By honing in on consumers’ goals and motivations—Customer Performance Indicators—organizations can proactively solve for true needs and become invaluable in the mind of their customers.
3. A changing relationship between consumer and corporation has arrived where the playing field is more equalized.
The pandemic has put a fine point on the employee experience, and as 2022 wears on, we’ll see companies putting in work to ensure both employees and consumers are treated as stakeholders. The employee experience is a key precursor to the customer experience, and organizations will shift to prioritize and honor stakeholders both internally and externally.
The relationship between the brand and the customer should be equal and reciprocal: how does the brand deliver a product or experience that fulfills a human goal? And how does the customer’s resulting action lead to growth for the brand?
As retailers look to answer these questions, we’ll see a shift in the relationship between consumer and corporation.
4. Customer loyalty is thinner than ever, and companies will need to dig deeper to earn it.
We’ve seen a record number of supply chain issues and disrupted retail access over the last two years. The inevitable result is that consumers “cheated” on their favorite brands to fulfill their needs. Often, these alternative brands stuck.
In the year ahead, smart brands will dig deep to truly understand and prioritize their customers so that they can deliver better than ever before and win back the loyalists they’ve lost.
The fact of the matter is customers’ expectations of brands are at an all-time high. Customer-centric models that were once ground-breaking are now seen as tablestakes, and brands will need to speed their pace of innovation to keep up with consumer favor. In 2022, the focus will be authenticity: it’s not enough, anymore, for brands to declare customer centricity. They have to live it, day in and day out.