* Become the architect of tomorrow’s business relationships.
* Create new and extraordinary customer experiences.
* Make these experiences intentional.
With the increased pace of technology bewildering many businesses it can be difficult to maintain focus on providing an extraordinary customer experience when your customers have embraced these new technologies but your business hasn’t.
Many marketers still produce communications based around traditional marketing and sales strategies, disseminating messages pushing their brand- like in the old world sales mantra, ‘Always Be Closing.’
Customers Are Changing – So Must Your Business
However, as your customers change and find information in new ways, so must your marketing adapt to meet customers’ needs.
In his book, “The End of Business as Usual,” Brian Solis talks about the three types of customers:
So what are the definitions of each of these customer types?
They watch TV, read newspapers and magazines and they have conversations in the real world with other people and are not really going to change much in terms in how they influence and how they learn in the future.
These are the customers we have come to know over the last 20 years. They start their search with Google, they are comfortable with getting informed through web sites and they are very comfortable with e-commerce.
They live in mobile & social networks…a key difference between connected individuals and the other two types of consumers is that where the other two are willing to go and look for information, connected individuals expect information to come to them, so instead of going to Google, they’ll go to social networks and ask people, “What do you think I should do?” They’ll ask for information or recommendations, read the reviews of their peers, they’ll do in-store research using their mobile phone – so they are much more empowered and much more informed.
Connected Customers – a $4.2 Trillion Dollar Opportunity
The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) reported in “The Connected World – The $4.2 Trillion Dollar Opportunity,’ that businesses that have changed to become “high-web” are the most successful – increasing revenues and profits and creating more jobs.
High-web organizations use a range of Internet tools to market, sell, and support customers, interact with suppliers, and empower employees. This is compared to medium-web businesses that market or sell goods or services online, low-web businesses which have a website and/or social networking site and no-web businesses that have no web presence at all.
Brands Are No Longer Created by Business
One significant change is that Brands are now co-created through the experience of our customers. This is a huge and fundamental change that many businesses have found hard to swallow. It changes the way that a company has to market itself. Companies now have to change the experience to meet customers’ needs.
Engagement is the way that businesses change the experience. However, just adopting new technologies, having a Facebook page or a website doesn’t have an impact unless the customer experience changes.
One example of this is the decline of newspapers. In Australia there have recent announcements of mass layoffs by the major newspaper publishers and a move to a greater digital presence, but none of that will mean a thing unless their customer experience also changes.
Customer Journey Is Different To The Marketing Road Map
Recognizing that the customer journey is different to the path the business wants to follow is another key to creating extraordinary customer experiences. Putting customers in the sales funnel and progressing them in the traditional sense is no longer relevant because your customers are finding information in different ways. The customer decision-making journey for connected customers and how they influence others is different than for traditional customers.
Connected customers look for information to make informed decisions and then they share that with their connections, who are in effect, their audience.
When the new connected customer wants to make a decision about a product, they go online and start talking to others about what they want, so the touch points that businesses now have with these individuals are different to the traditional sales funnel.
How businesses use the strategies and information they put into the various communications channels determines how successful they are likely to be. Many companies are still using traditional marketing strategies when communicating with connected customers. This is why when measuring social media marketing against brand engagement on Facebook the engagement level is only around 1% – because much of the marketing effort is simply not worthy of engagement.
Influence Drives Outcomes
Businesses also have to ensure that, when consumers find information about you, they find the information that you want them to find. Connected people find information about you one or two ways, because they either follow you now or someone they know follows you. Influence has become so important because businesses can be influential, as what they share and what they say drives outcomes.
Change Is A Cultural Thing
If you want people to always say great things about you and recommend you then you must change. We all know that the process of change is hard, but first you have to recognize that you must change, then, decide on the process. With the increased pace of technology development, businesses must constantly adapt. Rigid business models are no longer working.
In fact, moving forward , having an adaptive culture is one of the biggest foundations of business success.
As Brian Solis pointed out, 40 per cent of fortune 500 companies over the past 20 years have gone, and that is because they failed to change. Many more household names are running the risk of disappearing in the near future because they have failed to change.
It’s All About The Experience
Customer experience is the next big trend in business. Experiential outcomes will become your new mission or vision statement.
Stop and ask yourself what type of experience are you trying to create? Is the experience intentional?
As a business owner you are the one who should be defining the customer experience, because if you’re not, then your customers will be when they share those experiences with their connections. Their audience and their audience, shares them with their audience and so on…
Connected customers look beyond the ordinary and don’t settle for uninspired products and services.
Connected Customers Pay More, Buy More & Buy More Often
Connected customers already buy more than traditional or online customers, they pay more for their products and services and they buy more often. But connected customers won’t settle for low value products, services or experiences.
For business this means creating an adaptive culture within your organization that embraces change and becomes predictive so that you create a customer experience that people will find extraordinary enough to want to share, over and over again.
Connected customers make up a significant percentage of your potential market. In some sectors they are already the dominant group. So are you willing to change? Do you want a share of the $4.2 trillion dollar opportunity? Or, as Brian Solis put it, will you succumb to “Digital Darwinism”?